4600-Year-Old Step Pyramid Discovered


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

Located in southern Egypt it is said that when first built, the structure would have stood 43 feet (13 meters) tall. However, consequent ransacking of the blocks constituting the pyramid, erosion and weathering has carried down the once grandiose structure to sheer 16 feet (5 m) height.

Scientists are unsure about the purpose for which pyramid was built and speculate it could have been a symbol of the king’s power.

The initial findings of this primeval Egypt pyramid were presented at a symposium of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities held at Toronto, Canada on January 11, 2014.

Gregory Marouard, a research associate with the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute led a team working at the Edfu pyramid.

The step pyramid is one of seven “provincial” pyramids built by Snefru (2610-2590 B.C.) or Huni (2635-2610 B.C.), an ancient Egyptian king, and the last pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty during Old Kingdom period in Egypt.

These pyramids contain no internal chambers and don’t seem to be planned to house the dead. Out of the seven pyramids, six of these (including the one at Edfu) have almost equal dimensions of 60 x 60 feet (18.4 x 18.6 m). The step pyramid was built of sandstone and clay mortar, and was actually three-steps, similar to the step pyramid built by Djoser (reign ca. 2670-2640 B.C.).

“The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan,” said Marouard.

Leftovers 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 etched into the pyramid.

The matter of concern for the archaeologists is the encroachment of modern buildings and facilities around valuable sites. The recently found pyramid is quite close to a modern village. For the safety of the site, a fence has also been raised around the area of the pyramid by the American Research Center in Egypt and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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