November 11, 2008

Archaeologists Discover New Pyramid In Egypt

Egypt's antiquities chief announced Tuesday the discovery of a pyramid buried in the desert and thought to belong to the mother of a pharaoh who ruled more than 4,000 years ago.

Zahi Hawass said the pyramid, found about two months ago in the sand south of Cairo, probably housed the remains of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of King Teti, who ruled from 2323 to 2291 BC and founded Egypt's Sixth Dynasty.

"The only queen whose pyramid is missing is Sesheshet, which is why I am sure it belonged to her," Hawass said. "This will enrich our knowledge about the Old Kingdom."

Historians say the Sixth Dynasty is considered to be the last dynasty of the Old Kingdom, after which Egypt descended into famine and social upheaval. It was a time of conflict in Egypt's royal family that led to the erosion of centralized power.

Pyramids belonging to two of the king's wives were discovered nearby, but the tomb belonging to Sesheshet was never found.

Hawass said the headless, 16-foot high pyramid originally reached about 14 meters, with sides 22 meters long.

He said the pyramid was uncovered near the world's oldest pyramid at Saqqara, a burial ground for the rulers of ancient Egypt.

"This may be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," Hawass said.

The monument was originally covered in a casing of white limestone brought from quarries at nearby Tura.

Hawass said although most of its contents are likely to have been taken by thieves, archaeologists plan to enter the pyramid's burial chamber within two weeks.

He said artifacts such as a wooden statue of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis and funerary figurines dating from a later period indicate that the cemetery had been reused through Roman times.


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