Archaeologists have uncovered cans of Cirio tomatoes in Egypt that are almost 100 years old.

The tins, found in Shellal in the Nubia region of southern Egypt, date from 1923. At the time, Cirio was the official supplier to the Italian army, which was engaged in military actions in Eritrea and Somalia. Soldiers would travel to Shellal on a railway built by the British in 1884, and continue southwards by steamboat.

The find was made by a team of researchers from the Institute of Archaeology in Vienna, who were working in two villages abandoned in the 1930s after a flood hit the area.

“This discovery adds a small piece to a great story,” said Cirio UK brand manager Clive Davies, adding the brand would next year be celebrating its 160th anniversary.

Turin-based Cirio is the UK’s number two brand of canned tomatoes, with sales of £11.5m [Nielsen 52 w/e 11 October 2014]. In January, the company made a strategic decision to bring its UK distribution in-house, ending a 19-year relationship with importer RH Amar.