Russian archaeologists find unique mummies in Egypt

AL-FAYUM, November 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian archaeologists have found well-preserved mummies in Egypt dating to the country's Ptolemaic era, the head of the Russian Academy of Science's Egyptology department announced on Tuesday.

"Well-preserved mummies of this period are extremely rare," Galina Belova said.

The discoveries were made in the Egyptian oasis of Al-Fayum, where several mummies, combining traits of Hellenic and Egyptian traditions, have previously been found.

Teams of Russian archaeologists are currently carrying out excavations in Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, and near Luxor in the country's south.

"Burials from the Greco-Roman period are laid at the depth of two meters or lower," Belova said, adding that as a rule, coffins of the period are not decorated.

However, the Russian team found a 2,000-year-old family tomb containing three well-preserved mummies from the Ptolemaic era. The wooden coffins were ornamented with colored paintings and carved with hieroglyphs, recounting the family's story.

A man, probably the head of the family, was buried with a gold-plated mask. The remains will be x-rayed to establish the man's true age and to reconstruct his appearance.

The tomb also contained 1.4-meter coffin made of compressed papyrus. Judging by the illustrations adorning the coffin, it contains a mummy of a child, probably a girl, but researchers have decided not to open it 'in the field'.

A mummy of an old woman with well-preserved hair has also aroused interest, as well as a tomb of a baby, buried with mummified dogs, cats, monkeys and ibises (long-legged wading birds).

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