Egypt ancient city unearthed by archaeologists

image copyrightEgyptian Ministry of Antiquities
image captionThe site may have been home to ancient Egyptian tomb builders

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed what they describe as a city that dates back more than 5,000 years, containing houses, tools, pottery and huge graves.

It lies by the River Nile, close to the Temple of Seti the First in Abydos.

Experts say the size of the 15 newly discovered graves indicates the high social standing of those buried.

It is believed the city was home to important officials and tomb builders and would have flourished during early-era ancient Egyptian times.

The discovery comes at a time when the country is trying re-energise its tourism industry, which has suffered amid militant violence since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.

image copyrightEgyptian Ministry of Antiquities
image copyrightEgyptian Ministry of Antiquities

Archaeologists have made a range of finds in the newly-discovered city including buildings, shards of pottery and tools.

It is believed that this location was home to important officials and tomb builders who may have been engaged in the construction of royal graves in the nearby sacred city of Abydos - a place of many temples, and a capital in an early period of ancient Egyptian history.

The area is in the southern province of Sohag, in Upper Egypt, home also to the city of Luxor, one of the country's most popular tourist sites.

"About a mile behind where this material is said to be we have the necropolis with royal tombs going from before history to the period where we start getting royal names, we start getting identifiable kings," Prof Chris Eyre, an Egyptologist based at the University of Liverpool, told the BBC.

"So, this appears to be the town, the capital at the very beginning of Egyptian history."

The discovery was made by an archaeological mission that belongs to the country's Antiquities Ministry, and not a foreign group, officials quoted in Egypt Independent website said.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionArchaeological sites near Luxor (above) and elsewhere in Egypt have struggled to attract visitors amid continued political uncertainty

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