Egypt: Mummies found 'floating in sewage'

Polluted water at an archaeological site in Egypt Image copyright AFP
Image caption Polluted water is a problem for millions of Egyptians and for the country's archaeological treasures

Two ancient Egyptian mummies have been found floating in sewage in a village waterway, it's reported.

The mummies, which were wrapped in several layers of linen and still in their wooden sarcophagi, were found by police in a village near the city of Minya, about 240km (150 miles) south of Cairo, the CairoScene online magazine reports. They're thought to date back to the Greco-Roman era, from 332 BC to 395 AD, but the Ministry of Antiquities says little is left of the bodies. "Although the coffins were decorated with colourful designs, they were missing any ancient Egyptian inscriptions or hieroglyphics," the ministry says in a statement. A third sarcophagus was also found, but was empty.

How the mummies came to be dumped in the polluted water is not yet known, but ministry official Dr Yusuf Khalifa says it's likely they were unearthed by people carrying out illegal excavations, and ditched to cover their tracks. There are tight restrictions on excavations in Egypt; in October 2014 seven people were arrested in Giza after an illegal dig uncovered the remains of an ancient temple. Experts are now trying to restore what remains of the two mummies, and they'll be put on display along with their sarcophagi at Minya's Hermopolis Museum, the ministry says.

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