A group of Russian archaeologists has been working in the Fayoum province, some 80km southwest of Cairo, since 2003. It has been carrying out excavations at the Deir Al-Banat necropolis for the past two years.
"It is a huge necropolis," said Alexei Krol, deputy chief of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Egyptology center. "Despite the fact that the site was badly robbed in the early Christian period, the Coptic era and in the 1960s-1970s, we are still managing to find mummies with golden masks," he said.
The Deir Al-Banat necropolis contains burial sites from three periods of Egyptian history - Ancient Egypt, Roman Egypt and Christian Egypt. Apart from traditional Egyptian mummies, scientists have also found several so-called Fayoum mummy portraits from the Roman Egyptian period, realistic portraits of a deceased person made on a piece of wood and attached to a mummy.
The scientist added that several findings made at the necropolis challenged the existing theory, based on early Christian literature, that pagans and Christians in Egypt had a long and bitter feud at the dawn of the religion.
"They could live in the same city and pray to different gods," Krol said.