Egypt Hopes Newly Discovered Chamber of Mummies Can Save Tourism Industry

May 21, 2017

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A burial chamber containing at least 17 well-preserved mummies has been discovered in Minya, a province 150 miles south of Cairo in Egypt. Located about 26 feet below ground, the burial site, which contains both limestone and clay sarcophagi along with animal coffins and inscribed papyrus, is the most recent in a series of discoveries that the country hopes will boost its struggling tourism industry.

According to Reuters, the mummies are believed to come from a 600-year period following the country’s subjugation by Alexander the Great, a time when Egypt was part of the Greco-Roman Empire. Egypt, whose ancient temples and iconic pyramids were once the foundation of the country’s booming tourism industry, witnessed a political uprising in 2011 that eventually led to a sharp drop in tourism — recent militant attacks have only complicated things as the country struggles to bounce back and get the word out that it’s safe for people to visit.

Now, Egypt is hoping that a succession of archeological discoveries — including a nobleman’s tomb, 12 cemeteries and a gigantic colossus all dating back around 3,000 years — will revive its appeal to foreign tourists.

“2017 has been a historic year for archeological discoveries. It’s as if it’s a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back,” Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani told Reuters.

Aside from Egypt’s ancestors, another driver may help to increase tourism to the country. The unlikely source? Tom Cruise, who is starring in a reboot of The Mummy, a movie that draws largely from Egypt and its rich history (though with some major poetic license in play). The original Mummy movie, which debuted in 1999, coincided with a surge in tourism, leaving Egyptian officials hopeful that the updated version could have the same effect. And Cruise isn’t waiting for the movie release this summer to begin bringing press to the country either. Case in point: this cheeky dad joke.

Featured image of the Minya catacombs courtesy of Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images.

H/T: Travel Pulse

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