It’s been thousands of years since the ancient Egyptians began burying their dead along with their favorite possessions. But time hasn’t dimmed the excitement of sorting through their things—and now, reports Mohamed Abdel Aziz for the Associated France-Presse, archaeologists have discovered a cache of colorful sarcophagi, over 1,000 figurines and eight mummies in a tomb near Luxor.
The statues and mummies were discovered in a tomb that dates from Egypt’s 18th Dynasty. They were located in Dra-abu’ el-Naga, a section of the gigantic necropolis in ancient Thebes that’s long fascinated archaeologists. The necropolis is located near what is now known as the Valley of Kings—a place where Egyptian royals buried their dead in fabulous style.
The newly discovered tomb wasn’t owned by a king, but a nobleman, Userhat. It seems to have been used first for him and his family, then opened in a later dynasty as a kind of mummy storage facility during a time when grave robbings were common. Inside, officials tell Aziz, were at least eight mummies. But the really spectacular find was a collection of more than 1,000 Ushabti, or funerary statues.
Ancient Egyptians liked to bring their possessions along for the afterlife, and they also brought along representatives of their servants, too. The Ushabti are tiny statues representing workers who presumably would be on call during a dead person’s afterlife. The little figures would be buried along with their “master,” ready to perform a variety of tasks in the tomb.
Egypt’s ancient might be long since dead, but archaeological exploration is alive and well in the country. Earlier this year, a team of Swedish archaeologists found 12 burial sites north of Aswan, and just last month the remains of a pyramid was found south of Cairo. Officials say that their excavation in Userhat’s tomb is ongoing, so it’s possible even more mummies and figurines could be found.