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Egypt unveils a treasure trove of ancient artifacts

Egyptian antiquities authorities on Monday put on display a set of 2,500-year-old artifacts recently unearthed at the famous Saqqara necropolis near Cairo. The artefacts were displayed in a makeshift exhibition at the foot of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, 24 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of the Egyptian capital. The discovery includes 250 painted sarcophagi with well-preserved mummies inside, as well as 150 bronze statues of ancient deities and bronze vessels used in rituals of Isis, the fertility goddess in ancient Egyptian mythology, all dating from the late period, about 500 BC. A headless bronze statue of Imhotep, the chief architect of Pharaoh Djoser who ruled ancient Egypt between 2630 and 2611 BC, was also displayed. The objects will be transferred for permanent display to the new Great Egyptian Museum, a mega-project still under construction near the famous Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo. The Saqqara site is part of a vast necropolis in Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, which includes the pyramids of Giza and the smaller pyramids of Abu Sir, Dahshur and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1970s.