Ancient 4,600-Year-Old Step Pyramid Discovered in Egypt

First Posted: Feb 04, 2014 09:38 AM EST

An ancient step pyramid about 4,600 years old was unearthed by archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu in southern Egypt.

An ancient step pyramid was discovered by archaeologists on a site located 750 kilometers south of Cairo. According to LiveScience, the pyramid built by either Huni or Snefru, Pharaohs of Egypt, predates the Great Pyramid at Giza by a few decades and is one of the seven 'provincial' pyramids that was built around 2600 B.C.

The newly discovered Edfu pyramid was made of clay mortar and local sandstones. It lacked any evidence of internal chambers like other provincial pyramids.However, the construction of the ancient step pyramid was similar to other provincial pyramids.

"The construction itself reflects a certain care and a real expertise in the mastery of stone construction, especially for the adjustment of the most important blocks," Marouard said at a recent meeting of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities. 

Although the purpose of the pyramid is unascertained, archaeologists assume that this step pyramid was dedicated to the power of the king.

According to the excavators, the pyramid was soon abandoned after its construction. They assume that the offerings at the step pyramid stopped when Khnum- Khufu, the Egyptian pharaoh, started working on the Great Pyramid.

Spread across southern and central Egypt, the step pyramid once stood as high as 43 feet. But now the pyramid is just 16 feet high as a result of weathering stone blocks.

The researchers also found hieroglyphic graffiti carved on the outer side of the pyramid. These inscriptions were found next to the remains of infants and children who were found buried at the foot of the pyramid.

The excavators believe that the children were buried way before the pyramid was constructed and the pyramid was not intended to be used as a burial ground. They also discovered carvings of a seated man, four legged animal, reed leaf, bird and a book roll, source NBC News.

"These are mostly private and rough inscriptions, and certainly dedicated to the child/babies' burials located right under these inscriptions at the foot of the pyramid," Marouard told Live Science in an email. One of the inscriptions appears to mean "head of the house" and may be a reference to the mother of a buried child.

People in the village mistook the pyramid for a tomb of a local Muslim saint. The pyramid was buried under layers of sand and waste.

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