Archaeologists at Brigham Young University said they are confident that a recently-discovered burial site in Egypt has more than 1 million mummies stored inside, Live Science reported.
The 300-acre cemetery, named Fag el-Gamous (“Way of the Water Buffalo”) after a nearby road contains bodies dating back to between the First and Seventh centuries. Researchers for the university have been excavating the site since 1980, and have found nearly 2,000 corpses thus far. They have determined that the the site was primarily used to bury members of lower socio-economic classes, who could not afford to buy coffins or leave many items with the deceased.
“I don’t think you would term what happens to these burials as true mummification,” project director Kerry Muhlestein said. “If we want to use the term loosely, then they were mummified.”
According to Muhlestein, the bodies were “mummified” following their burial by the region’s arid climate. However, researchers have found several examples where burial wrappings, pottery, and jewelry were in good condition.
“A lot of their wealth, as little as they had, was poured into these burials,” Muhlestein said.
However, CNN reported that an official from the Egyptian ministry of antiquities, Youssef Khalifa, is disputing the researchers’ prediction regarding the number of corpses at Fag el-Gamous.
“There is indeed a site that contains many corpses and bodies wrapped in a thick textile,” Khalifa said. “But these number in the tens of thousands, maximum.”
Watch a report on Fag el-Gamous, as aired on CNN on Thursday, below.