Mysterious ancient cemetery in Egypt could contain a million mummies

A mysterious ancient cemetery in Egypt could contain more than a million mummified human remains, archaeologists have claimed.

Around 1,700 bodies have so far been uncovered at the Fag el-Gamous (Way of the Water Buffalo) site, around 60 miles south of Cairo. But experts believe that countless more are contained in the burial ground.

"We are fairly certain we have over a million burials within this cemetery. It's large, and it's dense," said project director Kerry Muhlestein, an associate professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University (BYU), which has been examining the site for around 30 years.

They were placed there between the 1st and the 7th centuries AD, but the scale of the site has left many baffled.

A nearby village has been deemed too small to warrant such a large cemetery, while the closest major settlements had their own burial grounds.

"It's hard to know where all these people were coming from," Professor Muhlestein told Live Science.

Another interesting find was that the corpses appeared to be grouped together by hair colour, with one section containing the remains of those with blonde hair and another for those with red hair.

The bodies, which included a man of more than seven feet in height, are thought to be of ordinary citizens, rather than the royalty found at many famous Egyptian sites. They were not buried in coffins, according to Muhlestein, and were in fact mummified not by design but by the arid natural environment.

"The burials are not in tombs, but rather in a field of sand," he told

"The people in the cemetery represent the common man. They are the average people who are usually hard to learn about because they are not very visible in written sources. A lot of their wealth, or the little that they had, was poured into these burials."

His team discovered objects including glassware, jewellery and linen. The findings were presented to the Scholars Colloquim at the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities in Toronto last month.

The Telegraph, London