• They opened the sarcophagi on Saturday to reveal perfectly preserved mummies inside.
  • The coffins are about 3,000 years old and were probably for priests and children.
  • The discovery comes just a week after the unearthing of 30 ancient workshops and a pottery kiln nearby. Archaeologists expect to uncover more significant ancient relics in the area.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .

Archaeologists in Egypt just unearthed 30 ancient wooden coffins and opened them to reveal perfectly preserved mummies inside.

A dig team stumbled upon the sarcophagi in the Asasif necropolis of the ancient town of Thebes, the Egyptian government announced on Tuesday. Thebes was once the bustling royal capital of ancient Egypt. Digging in the area around the modern-day city of Luxor has led to a series of findings since efforts began in December 2017.

The coffins are estimated to be 3,000 years old, far older than most other ancient relics in the area. Still, they were found sealed and intact, featuring vibrant color inscriptions and well-preserved engravings.

Archaeologists opened the coffins at a ceremony on Saturday to reveal perfectly preserved mummies inside. The intricate engravings indicate that the mummies were once highly respected people, likely priests and children.

Here's a look inside what Egyptian officials are calling the greatest coffin finding in a century.

Archaeologists unearthed 30 ancient coffins in a huge tomb in Egypt, the Egyptian government announced on Tuesday.

BusinessInsider USA Images

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The wooden sarcophagi were found in the Asasif necropolis of the ancient town of West Thebes, on the west bank of the Nile. The find was "completely by accident," archaeologist Zahi Hawass told Today.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP

Source: Today

It is the first large human coffin cache ever discovered since the end of the 19th century, the Egyptian Antiquities Minister, Khaled el-Anany, said during a ceremony in Luxor on Saturday.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

Source: Reuters

The coffins were stacked in two layers under the ground. They are estimated to be 3,000 years old, dating back to the 22nd dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP

Still, their colors and inscriptions are preserved "in full," according to a translation of a press release announcing the finding.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP

Source: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities , Reuters

Based on the engravings and inscriptions, archaeologists think the coffins were for children and priests both men and women.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP

Source: Reuters

On Saturday they opened the sealed sarcophagi to reveal perfectly preserved mummies inside.

BusinessInsider USA Images

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

"This cache will be the most important discovery of 2019," Hawass said.

BusinessInsider USA Images

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Source: Today

The coffins are part of a series of findings archaeologists have made since they began researching areas around the modern-day city of Luxor in December 2017.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Last week, the government announced the discovery of an ancient industrial district in the nearby Valley of the Monkeys, where craftsmen produced decorations for royal tombs.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

Source: CNN

Archaeologists identified 30 different manufacturing workshops there, along with an ancient pottery kiln from the 18th Dynasty.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

The coffins will be restored and displayed at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is due to open near the Giza pyramids next year.

BusinessInsider USA Images

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP

Source: Reuters

Archaeologists expect to unearth more big discoveries in the area. "Before the end of this year, I will reveal [to] the world a royal tomb," Hawass said.

BusinessInsider USA Images

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Source: Today

See Also:

SEE ALSO: These are the 10 oldest jokes in human history and they prove that people have been laughing about their animals and sex lives for 4,000 years