Mummified ewes, dogs, wild goats, cows, gazelles, and mongooses found along with ram heads in ancient city of Abydos in southern Egypt, officials say.
At least 2,000 mummified ram heads dating from the Ptolemaic period and a palatial Old Kingdom structure have been uncovered at the temple of Ramses II in the ancient city of Abydos in southern Egypt, antiquities officials said.
Mummified ewes, dogs, wild goats, cows, gazelles, and mongooses were found on Saturday in the temple along with the ram heads, which are thought to be votive offerings indicating continuing reverence for Ramses II at the site about 1,000 years after his death, a statement from the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said.
It added that the discoveries would expand knowledge of the site over a period of more than two millennia up to the Ptolemaic period.
The Ptolemaic period spanned about three centuries until the Roman conquest in 30 BC.
Abydos, located in the Egyptian governorate of Sohag about 435 kilometres south of Cairo, is one of Egypt's major, though lesser visited archaeological sites.
It was a necropolis for early ancient Egyptian royalty and a pilgrimage centre for the worship of the deity of Osiris.
Excavations were carried out by a mission from New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.
Alongside the mummified animal remains, the team uncovered a large palatial structure with walls approximately five metres thick from the Old Kingdom's sixth dynasty, in addition to several statues, papyri, ancient tree remains, leather garments and shoes.
The structure could help "reestablish the sense of the ancient landscape of Abydos before the construction of the Ramses II temple," the head of the mission, Sameh Iskander, was quoted as saying.
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Egypt's revival of tourism
Egypt has unveiled several major archaeological discoveries in recent years.
The discoveries have been a key component of Egypt's attempts to revive its vital tourism industry, the crowning jewel of which is the long-delayed inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum at the foot of the pyramids.
The tourism sector is one of the major sources of foreign currency to the country, which is heavily reliant on the country’s ancient treasures.
Egypt's tourism industry accounts for 10 percent of GDP and some two million jobs, according to official figures, but has been hammered by the unrest during the Arab Spring and the Covid pandemic.
It also took a critical hit by the conflict in Ukraine after the north African country lost its two biggest markets, Russia and Ukraine, during the first few months of the war.
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