LUXOR, Egypt — The painted 3,000-year-old face of a woman -- her eyes lined in black kohl -- stared from a funerary mask Friday as authorities revealed to the world the first tomb discovered in eight decades in the Valley of the Kings.
The five mummies inside were found by a team of American archeologists working on the neighboring tomb of Amenmeses, a late 19th Dynasty pharaoh.
"It's a dream come true," said Edwin Brock, co-director of the project, affiliated with the University of Memphis.
His team had yet to enter the single-chamber tomb, believed to be about 3,000 years old and dating to the 18th Dynasty.
But they have made a hole in the door and peered through to see five wooden sarcophagi and about 20 alabaster jars.
"It was just so amazing to find an intact tomb here after all the work that's been done before," Brock said.
The tomb is located across a pathway from Tutankhamen's tomb -- the last burial site discovered in the valley, in 1922.
Inside the 12-foot-by-15-foot chamber, one sarcophagus had fallen on its side, facing the doorway.
The funeral mask showed the painted features of a woman. Gold patterns of a thick necklace or breastplate were visible, but the lower half of the coffin was splintered and rotting -- the result of termites, Brock said.
In one corner of the chamber, a coffin seemed to have been partly pried open. The cloth below the lid probably belongs to a mummy, the archeologists said.
At the back of the chamber was the silhouette of another sarcophagus, the face painted on its funeral mask staring upward, hands folded on its chest.
Large pottery jars, some cracked, lined the chamber. Egypt's chief of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, told reporters the jars held food and drink to sustain the deceased in their journey to the afterlife.
Hawass said archeologists hoped to find hieroglyphs on the coffins that would identify the mummies.
"It could be the gardener," joked Otto Schaden, who heads the U.S. team. "But it's somebody who had the favor of the king."
The discovery broke the long-held belief that there was nothing left to dig up in the Valley of the Kings, the desert region near the city of Luxor, 300 miles south of Cairo, that was used as a burial ground for pharaohs, queens and nobles in the New Kingdom era -- about 1500 BC to 1000 BC.
The archeologists hope to enter the tomb within a few days, after removing the remaining rubble from the bottom of the shaft and taking away the rest of the door.