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Archaeologists in Egypt unearth Sphinx-like Roman-era statue

Oldest non-royal mummy ever discovered in Egypt
Archeologists discover oldest non-royal mummy ever in Egypt 01:31

Archaeologists unearthed a Sphinx-like statue and the remains of a shrine in an ancient temple in southern Egypt, antiquities authorities said Monday.

The artifacts were found in the temple of Dendera in Qena Province, 280 miles (450 kilometers) south of the capital of Cairo, the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.

Egypt Archaeological Discovery
A sphinx statue believed to be made in the likeness of a Roman emperor is uncovered from an archaeological site in Qena, Egypt. Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities via AP

Archaeologists believe the statue's smiling features may belong to the Roman emperor Claudius, who extended Rome's rule into North Africa between 41 and 54 A.D., the ministry said.

It said archaeologists will conduct more studies on the markings on the stone slab, which could reveal more information to statue's identity and the area. The statue is much smaller than the towering, well-known Sphinx in the Pyramids of Giza complex, which is 66 feet (20 meters) high.

The archaeologists also found a Roman-era stone slab with demotic and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

The limestone shrine includes a two-layer platform and a mud-brick basin from the Byzantine era, the ministry said.

Such discoveries are usually touted by the Egyptian government in hopes of attracting more tourists, a significant source of foreign currency for the cash-strapped North African country.

Monday's announcement comes just weeks after archeologists shared the discovery of the oldest non-royal mummy ever discovered in Egypt. The sarcophagus had been sealed for some 4,300 years. 

The rectangular limestone sarcophagus, weighing around 45 tons, was found as archeologists excavated the ancient ruins of Saqqara, near Cairo, the excavation team previously told CBS News. The mummy was wrapped in gold leaf with the name "HqA-Sps," or Hekashepes, inscribed on the sarcophagus.

Also this year, archeologists found the first burial site in the city of Luxor that dates back to the ancient Egyptian 13th Dynasty. An 11-ton sarcophagus inscribed with the name of a minister named Ankho was discovered at the site. 

Ahmed Shawkat contributed to this report.

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