Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed dozens of 4,500-year-old Pharaonic seals in the western desert, the official MENA news agency reported Thursday.
The 26 seals, each measuring 4.3 cm in length and 3.2 cm in width, belonged to one of the missions sent by Pharaoh Khufu in search of mefat, a red metallic powder used in painting the pyramids, MENA quoted Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni as saying.
Khufu who ruled from 2551 to 2528 BC was the builder of the great pyramids of Giza, southwest of Cairo.
"These seals were used by a mission sent by Khufu to collect ferric oxide, which is necessary to make red paint," said Zahi Hawwas, secretary general of the Higher Council of Antiquities.
A collection of pots' fragments bearing the imprints from the clay and stone seals were also found nearby.
"Artisans at the time needed mefat to decorate the pyramids as well as other material and funerary installations of the 4th dynasty," to which Khufu belonged, said Hawwas.
"The seals proved the official nature of the missions sent to desert regions," he added.
"The mission was made up of 400 men and a group of people whose job was to cook during the journey," according to inscriptions on the pottery pieces.
Egyptian archaeologists also unearthed a number of leather bags filled with mefat gathered from surrounding areas which were most probably hidden away from playful hands, said MENA.