NPR logo PHOTOS: 17 Mummies Unearthed In Egypt

PHOTOS: 17 Mummies Unearthed In Egypt

"2017 has been a historic year for archaeological discoveries," Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani (center) said Saturday. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

"2017 has been a historic year for archaeological discoveries," Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani (center) said Saturday.

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Officials in Egypt say they've uncovered 17 mummies in an ancient burial site, most of which are intact.

Egyptology professor Salah al-Kholi of Cairo University said there may be as many as 32 mummies in the underground chamber, Reuters reports.

The burial site, which sits about 26 feet underground, was first discovered a year ago by students using radar. It's located in the Tuna al-Gabal village in central Egypt, about 135 miles south of Cairo.

Salah al-Kholi, an Egyptology professor who led the mission, said up to 32 mummies could be in the chamber, including mummies of women, children and infants, Reuters reports. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Salah al-Kholi, an Egyptology professor who led the mission, said up to 32 mummies could be in the chamber, including mummies of women, children and infants, Reuters reports.

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Archaeologists believe the mummies are from Egypt's Greco-Roman period, Reuters reports, though they have not yet performed dating. The Greco-Roman period began in 332 B.C. after the Greek leader Alexander the Great took control of the country; it lasted for about 600 years.

The mummies were well-preserved, which means they likely were priests or officials, the AP reports. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The mummies were well-preserved, which means they likely were priests or officials, the AP reports.

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani told reporters that it's the "first human necropolis" discovered in the village, The Associated Press reports. He said the excavation is only beginning and that the find "will be much bigger."

Egyptian officials are hoping the find will boost tourism, which has taken a hit since the beginnings of the Arab Spring in 2011.

Archaeologists found sarcophagi made of limestone and clay. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Archaeologists found sarcophagi made of limestone and clay.

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

"2017 has been a historic year for archaeological discoveries. It's as if it's a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back," al-Anani told reporters.

The site includes two papyri in Demotic script, two clay coffins and six sarcophagi, the antiquities minister said, according to the AP. Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The site includes two papyri in Demotic script, two clay coffins and six sarcophagi, the antiquities minister said, according to the AP.

Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images