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Tomb 2 is an actual tomb, with stairs leading down into a rough-cut chamber without paintwork or any interior design.The space is so small that workers have to kneel to fit inside rather than stand up, Ward said.

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And most intriguingly, the archaeologists found a scarab amulet bearing the name of the 18th-dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose III and a seal right along with his cartouche (an oval symbol surrounding a royal name), reinforcing the theory that Silsila was more than just a work camp for quarry diggers.

These artifacts suggest that the people buried in the tombs were of higher standing than quarry workers, Ward said.

While the outer room overlooks the Nile to the west, the inner room, which once had a slightly elevated floor, is damaged by water, Ward said.

Despite the water damage, a carved stone solar disc with wings — a symbol of power and protection — is still visible, he said.

"Once we started to clear this Nile silt, we could see that the actual sandstone surface itself was starting to dry out," he said.

"Tomb" 1, which was already clear of silt, turned out not to be a tomb, but a two-room shrine.

This region is thought to have been the site of extremely powerful volcanic activity in the past, so powerful that it caused mile-deep lava over an area as large as the state of California.

Last week (April 30, 2015) geophysicists at UC Berkeley announced their evidence that this vast region is related to the asteroid thought to have slammed into the ocean half a world away.

It's not certain whether a crocodile made it into the tomb, Ward said, or whether the scutes flowed in with the Nile floodwaters.

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