CAIRO (Reuters) - An American team has found what appears to be an intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings, the first found in the valley since that of Tutankhamun in 1922, one of the archaeologists said on Thursday.
The tomb contains five or six mummies in intact sarcophagi from the late 18th dynasty, about the same period as Tutankhamun, but the archaeologists have not yet had the time or the access to identify them, the archaeologist added.
The 18th dynasty ruled Egypt from 1567 BC to 1320 BC, a period during which the country's power reached a peak.
The Valley of the Kings in southern Egypt contains the tombs of most of the pharaohs of the time but the archaeologist said the mummies in the newly found tomb need not be royal.
"There are lots of non-royal tombs in the valley. It wouldn't be the only one by any means," said the archaeologist, who asked not to be named because the Egyptian authorities are planning a media event at the site on Friday.
"The archaeologists haven't been inside properly yet. It's very small and cramped but it is late 18th dynasty," she added.
A statement from the government's Supreme Council of Antiquities said the tomb was found by a team from the University of Memphis in the United States.
The five sarcophagi, which are carved to human form, have coloured funerary masks and the tomb contains a large number of big storage jars, the statement said.
"For an unknown reason they were buried rapidly in the small tomb," it added.
The tomb, 5 km (three miles) from that of Tutankhamun, was covered with the rubble of workmen's huts dating from the latter part of the 19th dynasty, more than 100 years after the tomb was sealed, it said.