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The discovery of a previously unknown 'royal tomb' containing five sarcophagi in the Valley of the Kings has turned out to be no more than an ancient funeral parlour.

Egypt's acrchaeology chief Zahi Hawass admitted: "This is not a tomb for nobles or relatives of a king, as had been thought upon its discovery, but rather it is a room for mummification."

As we reported in February, when University of Memphis researchers first stumbled across the entrance shaft, right next to Tutenkhamun's famous tomb, 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."

In fact, the boxes were full of bits of pottery, shrouds and other mummification detritus.

The sealed storage jars found in the 10 metre deep room also contained materials used in mummification. It was thought they would hold grave goods for the supposed upscale occupants.

The site's change in status represents a large slice of humble pie for authorities in Egypt, who had trumpeted the find as evidence that there are still great discoveries to be made there. ®

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