4,600-year-old step pyramid discovered in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 4,600-year-old step pyramid in the ancient settlement of Edfu which predates the Great Pyramid of Giza by several decades.

4,600-year-old step pyramid discovered in Egypt
Archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu in southern Egypt have uncovered a step pyramid that dates back about 4,600 years [Credit: Tell Edfu Project at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute]
The ruins of the pyramid, built from sandstone blocks and clay mortar, stand 16 feet high and the structure would originally have stood around 43 feet. It is the seventh step pyramid to have been discovered at various locations across Egypt.

Known as "provincial" pyramids, these nearly identical structures are thought to have been built by either Pharaoh Huni, who reigned from 2635-2610 BC, or Pharaoh Sneferu (2610-2590 BC).

Food offerings

The step pyramids were not used for royal burial and contain no inner chamber. They are similar in design to the famous step pyramid built by Pharaoh Djoser (2670-2640 B.C.).

4,600-year-old step pyramid discovered in Egypt
The remains of young children and babies were discovered around the pyramid. The burials date to long after the pyramid was built, perhaps a millennium. This image shows archaeologist AurĂ©lie Schenk supervising the excavation of burials on the southern side of the pyramid [Credit: Tell Edfu Project at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute]
"The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan," Gregory Marouard, a research associate at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute who led the work at the Edfu pyramid, told LiveScience.

Marouard and his team have found clues at the newly discovered pyramid that might indicate that the provincial step pyramids were used as symbolic monuments dedicated to the royal cult of the Pharaoh, who was considered a god on earth.

Remains of food offerings have been found on the east side of the pyramid site, while around the outer faces, hieroglyphic graffiti depicting a book roll, a seated man, a bird, a reed leaf and a four-legged animal has been engraved into the pyramid.

Hidden in the sand

Remains of babies and children have been discovered at the foot of the pyramid beneath the markings, and archaeologists believe these remains were buried long after the pyramid was built.

4,600-year-old step pyramid discovered in Egypt
On the east side of the pyramid archaeologists found an installation where food offerings could have been made. The hole seen in this picture may have held a stela. Pieces of white limestone can also been seen and it appear that parts of this installation were removed around 1,500 years ago [Credit: Tell Edfu Project at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute]
According to Marouard, who began work with his team in 2010, scholars had long known about the existence of this pyramid, which was covered by a thick layer of sand, modern waste and broken stone from past pillaging attempts.

Ordinary Egyptians who live in a nearby village had long believed that the structure was actually the tomb of a sheikh, a local Muslim saint. It is believed that Pharaoh Khufu (2589–2566 BC) stopped maintaining these provincial monuments, instead directing his resources toward building the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Edfu, located on the west bank of the Nile, is also renowned for the Temple of Edfu, a temple dedicated to the falcon god Horus that was found almost entirely intact after being completely buried to a depth of 39 feet high.

It had been thought that the temple was actually a hill, and settlements had been built over the top of the temple site.

Author: Mary-Ann Russon | Source: International Business Times [February 04, 2014]

Posted by TANN on 4:00 PM. Filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

1 comments for 4,600-year-old step pyramid discovered in Egypt

  1. What a wonderful Egypt..!
    Every day we discover a piece of its everlasting glory.

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