Page last updated at 07:23 GMT, Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Archaeologist 'privileged' at role

Sarcophagus in a new tomb discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings
The occupiers of the tomb remain unknown

A County Antrim man who helped discover an intact Egyptian tomb has said he was privileged to be involved in the find.

Alistair Dickey, 26, from Broughshane, was part of the University of Memphis-led team which found the tomb and five mummies.

It was the first intact tomb to be found in the Valley of the Kings since Tutankhamun's in 1922.

"The first half hour after we found it, we actually saw into the chamber - the whole team was on cloud nine," he said.

"It is a dream come true, I'm very privileged to have been involved - it doesn't happen to many archaeologists - you could go your whole career and not find anything like this at all."

The archaeologists have not yet been able to identify the mummies.

Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass said they "might be royals or nobles" moved from "original graves to protect them from grave robbers".

Alistair Dickey
Alistair Dickey helped find the mummies

The Valley of the Kings, near the city of Luxor in southern Egypt, was used for burials for around 500 years from 1540BC onwards.

The newly-found tomb is thought to date from the 18th Pharaonic Dynasty, the first dynasty of the New Kingdom which ruled between 1539BC and 1292BC and made its capital in Thebes, now Luxor.

"We had been excavating workmen's huts - these huts belonged to the workmen that actually painted and decorated the tombs in the valley," Alistair said.

"At the bottom of one of the rooms we came across a man-made cut in the bedrock which turned out to be more than just a man-made cut - it turned out to be a five metre deep shaft with a chamber at the bottom."

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