Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lost Pyramid of Menkauhor is Rediscovered

Foundations of the pyramid lost since the 1850s were found under the sands of Saqqara.

A lost pyramid that housed the tomb of King Menkauhor was rediscovered this week in the sands of Saqqara, a royal burial complex south of Cairo. Known as the “headless pyramid” because only its foundations remain, the structure was first discovered about 1850 by German archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius.

“After Lepsius the location of the pyramid was lost and the substructure was never known,” according to Zahi Hawass of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It was forgotten by people until we began to search this area and a hill of sand maybe 25 feet high.”

King Menkauhor ruled for eight years during Egypt’s 5th dynasty around 2450 B.C. Nothing in the pyramid specifically names Menkauhor. However, it resembles the pyramid next to it, belonging to Teti, first pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty, which helped pinpoint the time of its construction.

The pyramid’s burial chamber contained the lid of a sarcophagus made of gray schist, a type of granite often used during the period of the Old Kingdom, to which the two neighboring pyramids belong.

Here is the National Geographic article on the discovery.

A worker dusts off the large sarcophagus lid found in the burial chamber of King Menkauhor's tomb.

(Photos courtesy of National Geographic Society)

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