A sarcophagus containing an Egyptian high priest was opened on live TV Sunday during a special two-hour broadcast by the American channel Discovery.
"Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live" aired from the site outside Minya, which is along the Nile River south of Cairo and its Giza pyramids. Archeologists recently discovered a network of vertical shafts at the site which led to tunnels and tombs containing 40 mummies "believed to be part of the noble elite."
After exploring other tombs -- finding artifacts like statues, amulets, canopic jars used to store organs, and other mummies including one that had decomposed to a skeleton -- they crawled to the chamber containing the intricately carved sarcophagus.
It took the strength of several people to open. The team's efforts had not gone to waste: inside was a pristinely linen-wrapped mummy surrounded by treasure including gold.
"I can't believe this, this is incredible," exclaimed Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archaeologist and former antiquities minister, who had taken charge of the expedition with American explorer Josh Gates as the host of the broadcast.
A Discovery spokesman previously told AFP that the project was set up in collaboration with Egypt's antiquities ministry.