Saturday, March 7, 2009

Egypt discovers ancient pyramid

Andualem Sisay, AfricaNews reporter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Egypt has discovered a 4,300-year-old pyramid near ancient city of Memphis about 20km south of Cairo, Egypt's culture minister, Faruq Hosni announced. He made the announcement in Saqqara, an ancient burial ground which dates back to 2,700 BC and is dominated by massive bulk of King Zoser's step pyramid.

The pyramid, which is believed to have belonged to Queen Sesheshet, was discovered in the sprawling rulers' burial. It is the 118th discovered pyramid in Egypt and most were built as tombs for the country's Pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.

According to Husni, the pyramid, which is five meters tall, is believed to have been 15 meters tall when it was first built for Queen Sesheshet, mother of King Teti who founded 6th Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom.

"The pyramid's base was discovered 20 metres below the sands and a doorway for the burial place was also discovered," Hosni said, adding that it seems thieves had looted the pyramid.

Zahiu Hawass, Egypt's chief of antiquities, on his part said that Archeologists began excavating the site where pyramid was found about two years ago, but only uncovered pyramid about two months ago.

Hawass said: "The discovery will help archeologists develop a greater understanding of Egypt's Sixth Dynasty the last of the Old Kingdom. It was a time of conflict in Egypt's royal family that eventually led the country into an era of famine and social upheaval”.

The site was found near pyramids that belong to two of Teti's wives in Saqqara area, the main burial site for ancient royals before pyramids of Giza.

Archeologists intend to enter the pyramid within two weeks to confirm it belongs to Queen Sesheshet, Hawass said.

The best known Egyptian pyramids are those found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo. The earliest known Egyptian pyramid is the Pyramid of Djozer which was built during the third dynasty.