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Egypt pyramid uncovered: 4,600-year-old Edfu pyramid, child/babies burials found

British Museum
British Museum
British Museum

The Egypt pyramid uncovered recently by archaeologists working near the ancient settlement of Edfu in southern Egypt is about 4,600 years old, making it older than the Great Pyramid at Gaza. Unlike Gaza, the newly uncovered pyramid in Egypt contains no chambers and so far, there is no evidence that the Edfu pyramid was originally intended for burial. However, as Fox News reported on Feb. 4, 2014, Gregory Marouard said that at the foot of the Edfu pyramid, his team found inscriptions that were dedicated to children and babies.

"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."

When archaeologists uncovered the Edfu pyramid, it was covered by a thick layer of sand, modern waste, and remains from the pillaging of its blocks. “It didn't look like a pyramid,” said Gregory Marouard, who is a research associate at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and who led the work at the Edfu pyramid. “People in a nearby village even thought the structure was the tomb of a sheikh, a local Muslim saint. As the team went to work cleaning the monument, the ancient pyramid was revealed.”

Before the Edfu pyramid in Egypt was uncovered by Gregory Marouard and his team, archaeologists were aware of several “provincial” pyramids that were built by either the pharaoh Huni (reign ca. 2635-2610 B.C.) or Snefru (reign ca. 2610-2590 B.C.). Provincial pyramids are scattered throughout central and southern Egypt, have almost identical dimensions of 60 x 61 feet, and are located near major settlements.

The most recently uncovered pyramid near the Edfu settlement is the seventh of what is called a step pyramid since it is constructed in the form of a three-step pyramid. “A core of blocks rises up vertically, with two layers of blocks beside it, on top of each other. This made the pyramid look like it had three steps.”

While the structure of the newly uncovered Edfu pyramid in Egypt showed that it was built of local materials including sandstone blocks and clay mortar, the purpose of the seventh pyramid – like the other six pyramids uncovered so far – still remains a mystery. "The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan," said Gregory Marouard.

The initial results of the excavation of the uncovered Edfu pyramid were recently presented at a symposium held in Toronto by the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities and emphasized that this seventh pyramid might reveal clues to uncovering the mystery of that “common plan.”

On the east side of the newly uncovered Egypt pyramid, Gregory Marouard’s team found the remains of an installation where food offerings appear to have been made. The hieroglyphic graffiti incised on the outer faces of the pyramid are located beside the remains of babies and children who were buried at the foot of the pyramid. For now, researchers think the inscriptions and burials date to long after the pyramid was built and that the structure was not originally intended as a burial place.

However, since the site of the newly uncovered Edfu pyramid in Egypt is near a modern cemetery and one of the old inscriptions appears to mean "head of the house" and may be a reference to the mother of a buried child, it appears that the practices of death might actually hold a clue to the practices of life 4,600 years ago. Gregory Marouard said his team would be publishing these burials and images in more detail in the future.

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