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Archaeologists unearth King Tut's neighbours

Unknown mummies in undisturbed tomb

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Archaeologists have discovered Egypt's first undisturbed tomb since Tutankhamun in 1922 – unbelievably just five metres away from that of the boy pharaoh.

Authorities today gave journalists a first sight of the discovery, believed to date from the 18th dynasty (around 1500 to 1300 BC), which included the reign of Tutankhamun. Five mummies in wooden sarcophagi were found, along with painted face masks and 20 storage jars carrying royal seals.

Experts are unsure who the mummies are, however. Egypt's antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said: "Maybe they are mummies of kings or queens or nobles, we don't know. But it's definitely someone connected to the royal family."

It had long been thought that the Valley of the Kings, 500 miles south of Cairo, had given up all its secrets. The latest find is the valley's 63rd known tomb. Patricia Podzorski, curator of Egyptian Art at the University of Memphis, which ran the dig told the BBC: "They said it before Howard Carter found King Tutankhamun's tomb and they said it after. But, obviously, they are still wrong."

The team which made the discovery were working on an already known tomb when they stumbled on the startling new find. The unknown burial was found underneath construction-related buildings from a later dynasty. A 10-metre-deep shaft was discovered leading to the main chamber, blocked by a stone door.

So far, no-one has actually entered the chamber, the treasure trove only glimpsed though a small hole made by the archaeologists. ®

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