At least 2,000 mummified ram heads have been uncovered at the temple of Ramses II in the ancient city of Abydos in southern Egypt.
The mummies from the Ptolemaic period were found in the palatial Old Kingdom structure, antiquities officials said on Saturday.
In addition to the ram heads, archaeologists also found mummified ewes, dogs, wild goats, cows, gazelles, and mongooses.
The mummified animals are thought to be votive offerings indicating continuing reverence for Ramses II at the site about 1,000 years after his death, according to a statement from the tourism and antiquities.
It added that the discoveries would expand knowledge of the site over a period of more than two millennia up to the Ptolemaic period which spanned about three centuries until the Roman conquest in 30 BC.
Abydos, located in the Egyptian governorate of Sohag about 435 km south of Cairo, is one of Egypt’s major though lesser visited archaeological sites.
It was a necropolis for early ancient Egyptian royalty and a pilgrimage centre for the worship of the god Osiris.
Excavations were carried out by a mission from New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.
Alongside the mummified animal remains, the team uncovered a large palatial structure with walls approximately five meters thick from the Old Kingdom’s sixth dynasty, in addition to several statues, papyri, ancient tree remains, leather garments and shoes.
The structure could help ‘reestablish the sense of the ancient landscape of Abydos before the construction of the Ramses II temple,’ the head of the mission, Sameh Iskander, was quoted as saying.
MORE : Archaeologists in Egypt unearth Sphinx-like Roman-era statue
MORE : 2,500-year-old workshop reveals how ancient Egyptians mummified the dead
Get your need-to-know
latest news, feel-good stories, analysis and more
First appear at Over 2,000 mummified ram skulls discovered in ancient Egyptian temple