4,300-year-old pyramid discovered

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Egypt

4,300-year-old pyramid discovered

Post by Hurghada Lady »

SAQQARA, Egypt (AP) -- Archaeologists have discovered a new pyramid under the sands of Saqqara, an ancient burial site that remains largely unexplored and has yielded a string of unearthed pyramids in recent years, Egypt's antiquities chief announced Tuesday.


Egypt's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass at Saqqara, where the pyramid was discovered.

The 4,300-year-old monument most likely belonged to the queen mother of the founder of Egypt's 6th Dynasty, several hundred years after the building of the famed Great Pyramids of Giza, the country's antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said as he took the media on a tour of the find.

The discovery is part of the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt's Old Kingdom, about 19 kilometers (12 miles) south of Giza.

All that remains of the pyramid is a square-shaped 16-foot (5-meter) tall structure that had been buried under 65 feet (25 meters) of sand.

"There was so much sand dumped here that no one had any idea there was something buried underneath," said Hawass.

Hawass' team has been excavating at the location for two years, but he said it was only two months ago when they determined the structure, with sides about 72 feet (22 meters) long, was the base of a pyramid. They also found parts of the pyramid's white limestone casing -- believed to have once covered the entire structure -- which enabled them to calculate that the complete pyramid was once 45 feet (14 meters) high.

The pyramid is the 118th discovered so far in Egypt. "To find a new pyramid is always exciting," said Hawass. "And this one is magical. It belonged to a queen."

Hawass said he believes the pyramid belongs to Queen Sesheshet, who is thought to have played a significant role in establishing the 6th Dynasty and uniting two branches of the feuding royal family. Her son, Teti, is believed to have ruled for around 20 years until he was possibly assassinated, a sign of the time's turbulence.

Evidence of the identification is still indirect. The pyramids of Teti's two wives, already discovered 100 years ago and in 1994 respectively, lie next to it as part of the burial complex alongside the collapsed pyramid of Teti himself.

The Egyptian team is still digging and is two weeks from entering the burial chamber inside the pyramid, where Hawass hopes they will find proof of its owner -- a sarcophagus or at least an inscription of the queen, he said.

Finding anything more would be next to impossible, as robbers in antiquity looted the pyramid, Hawass added, pointing to a gaping shaft on the structure's top that remains a testament to the thieves' actions.

Dieter Wildung, head of Berlin's Egyptian Museum and a leading Egyptologists in Europe, said Hawass' claim is plausible because it was common in the Old Kingdom for kings to build pyramids for their queens and mothers next to their own.

"Hawass is likely right," Wildung, who is not involved in the dig, said in a phone interview. "These parallel situations give a very strong argument in favor of his interpretation."

Joe Wegner, an associate professor of Egyptian archaeology at University of Pennsylvania who has been involved in other expeditions at Saqqara, cautioned that until "inscriptional confirmation is found, it's still an educated guess" that the pyramid is Sesheshet's.

Although evidence of the queen's existence was found elsewhere in Egypt in inscriptions and a papyrus document -- a medical prescription to strengthen the queen's thinning hair -- the site of her burial was not known.

The find is important because it adds to the understanding of the 6th Dynasty, which lasted from 2,322 B.C. to 2,151 B.C. It was the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom, which spanned the 3rd millennium B.C. and was the first peak of pharaonic civilization.

Saqqara is most famous for the Step Pyramid of King Djoser, built in the 27th century B.C.

Only a third of the Saqqara complex has been explored so far, and recent digging has turned up a number of key finds.


The last new pyramid found there three years ago is thought to belong to the wife of Teti's successor, Pepi I.

In June, Hawass' team unveiled a "rediscovery" at Saqqara -- a pyramid believed to have been built by King Menkauhor, an obscure pharaoh whose pyramid was first discovered in 1842 by German archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius. But desert sands later covered the pyramid and archaeologists were unable to find Menkauhor's resting place until three months ago.


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Spike
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Post by Spike »

How exciting is this !

Higly unlikely but it would be great if they found some treasures !

Does anybody know an update on a tomb they had undercovered a year or so ago in Valley of the Kings?
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Post by Horus »

Spike asked:
Does anybody know an update on a tomb they had undercovered a year or so ago in Valley of the Kings?
The last discovery in the VOK was designated as KV-63 that means it is the 63rd tomb to be discovered in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. It was discovered by Dr Otto Schaden at the end of 2005 but officially opened as a tomb on 10th of February 2006. In reality it is not really a tomb as such, but more likely an embalmers cache. It contained several mummy cases that were in very poor condition, textiles and other material associated with the embalming process, there are still several unopened jars that may yet contain something of interest. One particularly interesting item was a small anthropoid coffinette covered in gold leaf. At the time it was speculated that due to its location it might be the tomb of Kiya, who was King Tutankhamun mother, however this does not seem to be the case. It was customary to dispose of anything that was associated with a burial or embalming with the same respect afforded to the deceased, therefore embalming natron (salt) bandages or anything else that may have been used for the deceased burial would be placed in a cache elsewhere to the mummy. That particular cache is probably the result of priests in ancient times collecting up a lot of odds and ends from other catches or empty tombs and giving them a respectful burial but that is only my opinion.
Below is a picture of KV-63

Image

On my last visit to the valley in October this year, that particular tomb was now gated over.
There is however another bit of exploration being carried out in the valley, again quite near to the tomb of Tutankhamun and up the hill towards the tomb of the pharaoh Merneptah who was the son and successor of Rameses the 2nd (Rameses the Great)

The latest excavation work
Image

Hope this update helps :D
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Post by BBLUX »

Otto Schaden was unable to return to Egypt earlier this year due to health problems, I believe, but is planning to come back and continue his work later this season.
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Post by Spike »

Thank you very much Horus or all your work put into that post !

I remember watching a documentary when it was first discovered...

Very facinating, I wish I could combine the these 2 cities together then i could have the best of both.
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