As a result, the three mummies were seriously decomposed, leaving just bones among red-brown sewage water.
Despite rumours it is unlikely the tomb belongs to Alexander the Great - although it could contain the body of a wealthy nobleman.
Now experts will prise open the ancient sarcophagus in the hope new secrets will be uncovered.
Inside were three skeletons floating in foul-smelling sewage that had leaked into the vessel from the road above through a small crack in the sarcophagus, according to Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities.
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Egypt's Antiquities Ministry said that after an initial round of preservation work, the 30-ton sarcophagus will be lifted out from the construction site and transferred to its facilities. Officials believe one of them died from blow to the skull with a sharp instrument, possibly an arrow.
Hawass told Ahram Online that for hundreds of years, several failed attempts were made by archaeologists and explorers to locate the tomb of Alexander the Great, believed by many to have been buried in Alexandria.
The prospect of opening the long-sealed sarcophagus in Alexandria had prompted fears in Egyptian media that it could unleash a 1,000-year curse.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, has confirmed the news of opening the mysterious sarcophagus.
Experts removed its granite cover on Thursday to find the shuffled bones of three skeletons inside.
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"The sarcophagus has been opened, but we have not been hit by a curse", Waziri said.
Manning, who said the archaeological find "looked like a non-elite burial", has a theory on its origins: that although the sarcophagus appeared to date back to the Ptolemaic Kingdom (305 B.C.to 30 B.C.), it may have been used a few times.
"I was the first to put my whole head inside the sarcophagus.and here I stand before you".
But according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the three skeletons found inside are probably those of warriors.
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