<p>One of 40 sarcophagi that were discovered in a large cemetery in Egypt's Minya province, just south of Cairo.</p>

One of 40 sarcophagi that were discovered in a large cemetery in Egypt's Minya province, just south of Cairo.

Photograph by Fayed El-Geziry, NurPhoto/Getty

See Inside This Newly Discovered Ancient Egyptian Cemetery

Artifacts found inside the network of tombs suggest it contains a priest of the ancient Egyptian deity Thoth.

"This is only the beginning of a new discovery," Egypt's Antiquities Minister, Khaled al-Anani, said in a statement.

He added that excavators will need at least five years to uncover the large, ancient necropolis whose discovery was announced over the weekend.

The series of eight tombs contain burial shafts that date back to the region's Pharaonic Late Period, which began in 672 B.C., to the Ptolemaic dynasty, which began in 332 B.C. The tombs were found in a city called Minya, just south of Cairo, in a part of the city called Tuna al-Gabal that contains known burials and catacombs.

Several artifacts and human remains were found, but among the most impressive is a mummy decorated with a bronze collar. In a post about the announcement on the ministry's Facebook page, they note many of the burials are associated with the ancient Egyptian god Thoth.

Among the ancient culture's deities, Thoth is linked to writing and the creation of an alphabet.

Several burials were found, but the mummy bearing the bronze collar is thought to have possibly been a high priest. In addition to its bronze adornment, it's decorated with blue and red beads and amulets made of semi-precious stones.

One inscription on the mummy has a hieroglyphic that reads: "Happy New Year."

In this tomb, archaeologists also found four alabaster jars with the Egyptian god Horus carved onto the lid. The jars contain the mummified organs of the tomb's mummies.

Archaeologists also found 1,000 ushabti figurines. The small blue-green figures were commonly placed in deceased ancient Egyptians' tombs and were thought to represent workers in the afterlife.

So far, the Egyptian excavators have unearthed 40 sarcophagi varying in shape and size that they suspect belonged to the priest's family members.

In another tomb, they found several coffins and other artifacts meant to accompany the dead.

The find was made on an ongoing excavation by archaeologists from the Ministry of Antiquities.

Last May, they found 17 mummies in a tomb also located in Tuna al-Gabal.

In addition to adding to the region's archaeological record, Egypt's state-funded archaeological excavations are part of a push to revive the country's once booming tourism industry. The country saw its once-thriving tourism industry plummet after massive political uprisings in 2011 that unseated the country's former president.

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