Egypt police arrest illegal excavation gang who discovered Graeco-Roman site
Egyptian police have arrested a group of men who discovered a Graeco-Roman city in Minya while excavating illegally, Egypt's interior ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
The group of seven people, aged between 18 and 51, were arrested at the excavation site, where they had dug a five-metre-deep hole.
A collection of ancient items were found with them, including 483 copper and bronze coins from the second and third centuries, and a pottery vessel from the Greek era, the statement said.
The ministry said the group has also discovered an ancient city dating back to the Graeco-Roman era extending about two kilometres across, and featuring many tombs carved in rock, a number of columns, a Graeco-Roman church, and a cross.
The ministry said the unearthed items and the site are genuine.
Excavating without a permit is illegal in Egypt; antiquities from illegal sites often find their way onto the black market.
In some cases, illegal excavations have turned up important finds, as with the October 2014 discovery of a temple from the reign of New Kingdom King Thutmose III.
Seven residents of the Giza district were arrested after illegally excavating an area beneath their home, in the course of which they discovered huge limestone blocks engraved with hieroglyphs.
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