Egypt has unearthed an ancient burial site containing at least 17 mummies, most fully intact.

It is the latest in a string of discoveries that the country's antiquities minister described as a helping hand from the crypt for its struggling tourism sector.

The site was uncovered eight metres below ground in Minya, a province about 250km south of Cairo.

It contained limestone and clay sarcophagi, animal coffins, and papyrus inscribed with Demotic script.

The burial chamber was first detected last year by a team of Cairo University students using radar.

The mummies have not yet been dated but are believed to date to Egypt's Greco-Roman period, a roughly 600-year span that followed the country's conquest by Alexander the Great in 332BC, according to Mohamed Hamza, a Cairo University archaeology dean in charge of the excavations.

Egypt is hoping recent discoveries will brighten its image abroad and revive interest among travellers that once flocked to its iconic pharaonic temples and pyramids but which have shunned the country since its 2011 political uprising.

"2017 has been a historic year for archaeological discoveries. It's as if it's a message from our ancestors who are lending us a hand to help bring tourists back," Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani told a news conference announcing the find.

One professor involved in the mission said as many as 32 mummies may be in the chamber, including mummies of women, children and infants.