Archaeologists have discovered an ancient burial site in Egypt holding the remains of up to a million mummies.
Brigham Young University researchers investigated a burial ground populated with corpses 1,500 years before our modern day.
Around the year C.E. 500, the Roman Empire had fallen into disarray, unable to supply goods around their territory. They still held official control of Egypt, which was considered to be the "bread basket" of the Mediterranean.
The Fag el-Gamous cemetery (which translates as "Way of the Water Buffalo,") is near a pyramid, which was also carefully examined by archaeologists over the course of 30 years. The oldest mummies in the location were interred during the First Century of the Common Era, nearly 2,000 years ago. The graveyard was named after a local road.
Bodies discovered in the cemetery were not purposely treated for mummification, in the manner of rich or politically powerful citizens. The bodies were naturally mummified by the natural climate in the region.
People buried at Fag el-Gamous were ordinary residents, often buried without any accouterments to accompany them in the afterlife. Many of the bodies here were not even interred in coffins. Items found in some of the graves include goods made of glass or linen.
The body of a young child was found in a grave, dressed in a tunic and booties, adorned with a necklace and a pair of bracelets on each wrist.
"There was some evidence that they tried much of the full mummification process. The toes and toenails and brain and tongue were amazingly preserved. The jewelry makes us think it was a girl, but we cannot tell," investigators reported on their Facebook page.
The young child was likely around 18 months of age when she died. Great care was taken by those who buried her, alongside several other bodies in the massive graveyard.
"She was buried with great care, as someone who obviously loved her very much did all they could to take care of this little girl in burial. [It's] very sad, but they succeeded. It was a beautiful burial," researchers stated
Archaeologists are uncertain why so many bodies were placed here. A village near the graveyard is too small to have interred so many people here, and larger areas in the region are equipped with their own adequate burial sites.
"It's hard to know where all these people were coming from," Kerry Muhlestein, associate professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University, said.
Examination of the Fag el-Gamous cemetery was detailed in a presentation delivered at the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities Scholars Colloquium, held in Toronto, Canada in November.