Archaeologists discover burial ground for Egyptian high priests

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered mummified remains and thousands of well-preserved artifacts at a burial site of more than a dozen Egyptian priests.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Saturday the discovery of a necropolis near the city of Minya, south of Cairo in an area known to house ancient catacombs. The burial grounds date back to the late pharaonic period, which spans from 664 to 332 B.C.

"We will need at least five years to work on the necropolis," Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said, "This is only the beginning of a new discovery."

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Archaeologists discover burial ground for Egyptian high priests
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Archaeologists discover burial ground for Egyptian high priests
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: Ancient artifacts are seen in the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: Ancient artifacts are seen in the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: Ancient artifacts are seen in the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: Miniature statues are seen in the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: A miniature statue is seen in the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: One of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: One of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: Ancient artifacts are seen in the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: An archeologist works on one of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: A skull is seen one of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: One of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: One of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: One of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: Skulls are seen one of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MINYA, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 24: One of the 3,000-Year-Old 8 pharaohs' tomb, which were dug out during archaeological excavations, is seen in Minya, Egypt on February 24, 2018. (Photo by Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An Egyptian excavation worker works on a finding at a newly discovered cemetery, dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era, in Minya city, Southern Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An Egyptian excavation worker works on a finding at a newly discovered cemetery, dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era, in Minya city, Southern Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Enany looks a sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An Egyptian excavation worker works on a finding at a newly discovered cemetery, dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era, in Minya city, Southern Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An Egyptian excavation worker works on a finding at a newly discovered cemetery, dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era, in Minya city, Southern Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A sarcophagus that was discovered is displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, 24 February 2018. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, an ancient Egyptian cemetery was discovered six kilometers north of Tuna al-Gabal archaeological site in Minya, containing a number of burial shafts dating to the late pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era. The archaeological mission unearthed a mummy decorated with a bronze collar, 1000 figurines, some 40 sarcophagi, four canopic jars, and other funerary items. (Photo by Fayed El-Geziry/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Skulls are seen inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Men secures a stone sarcophagi, discovered in an ancient burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian antiquities worker brushes a deceased animal's skull inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian antiquities worker brushes a coffin inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Ancient statues discovered near an ancient necropolis in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Ancient statues discovered near an ancient necropolis in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A stone sarcophagi, inside the recently discovered ancient burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A deceased animal's skull inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El Anany stands near a stone sarcophagi, discovered in an ancient burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A stone sarcophagi, discovered in an ancient burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
A wooden coffin inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian antiquities worker gestures near a coffin inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian antiquities worker is seen inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Skulls are seen inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian antiquities worker brushes a coffin inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Egyptian antiquities worker brushes a coffin inside the recently discovered burial site in Minya, Egypt February 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
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The tombs discovered "belong to priests of the ancient Egyptian god Toth," according to a press statement from the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry. Toth, according to Egyptian historians, was revered as the god of knowledge and wisdom.

Related: Archaeologists uncover 4,000-year-old tomb in Egypt

Archaeologists discovered the mummified remains of a high priest, which was covered in beads of ivory and crystal and decorated with a bronze collar as well as amulets of semi-precious stones.

They also found 13 other burial tombs, 40 limestone sarcophagi, a collection of more than 1,000 well-preserved figurines, and four canopic jars made of alabaster and inscribed with hieroglyphs.

Mostafa Waziri, head of the archaeological mission, says eight tombs have been uncovered so far and he expects more will be discovered soon.

Earlier in February, archaeologists discovered a tomb of an ancient royal official buried more than 4,000 years ago during the period known as the "Age of the Pyramids."

In 2017, the ministry found a necropolis holding at least 17 mummies in the area of Tuna al-Gabal, which is also known as the site of tombs, a funerary building and a large necropolis for thousands of mummified ibis and baboon birds, as well as other animals.

Egypt hopes that recent discoveries across the country will help spur the vital tourism sector, partially driven by antiquities sightseeing, which was hit hard by political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

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