Egypt unveils ancient necropolis south of Cairo

Egyptian archaeologists on Sunday unveiled mummies, brightly painted sarcophagi and dozens of ancient tombs carved into a rocky hill in a desert oasis south of Cairo. The 53 tombs - some as old as 4,000 years - were discovered recently on a sandy plateau overlooking farming fields in the village Illahun, located in the Fayoum oasis about 80 kilometers southwest of the Egyptian capital. Archaeologists gave journalists a rare tour of the ancient burial site Sunday, which is next to the nearly four millennia old pyramid of Pharaoh Sesostris II. "At the beginning of the excavation I said that we may rewrite the history of the site, and I was right," said Abdel-Rahman el-Ayedi, the deputy secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities who oversaw the dig. Three slim wooden sarcophagi believed to be holding female mummies were laid out in one of the tombs. The innermost coffins were painted to resemble the deceased using blue, yellow, rust and black dyes.