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EGYPT FUNERAL SITE PREDATES PHARAOHS

Archaeologists digging in a 5,600-year-old funeral site in southern Egypt unearthed seven corpses believed to date to that era, as well as an intact figure of a cow's head carved from flint.

The American-Egyptian excavation team made the discoveries in what they described as the largest funerary complex ever found that dates to the elusive 5-millenia-old Predynastic era, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said Wednesday.

The team working for five years in the area of Kom El-Ahmar, known in antiquity as Hierakonpolis, excavated a complex thought to belong to a ruler of the ancient city who reigned around 3600 B.C.

The find is significant because little is known about the early phase of Predynastic period. That era predates the unification of upper and lower Egypt that triggered the Dynastic era, when the pharaohs ruled.

The grave sites at Kom El-Ahmar, 370 miles south of Cairo, appear to date to the early Naqada II era, when the settlement at Hierakonpolis was at its peak and the city was the largest urban center on the Nile.