Egypt opens two of its oldest pyramids to the public

Egypt opens two of its oldest pyramids to the public for the first time since 1965 after excavations that uncovered collection of sarcophagi

  • Bent Pyramid and its satellite pyramid opened in the Dahshur royal necropolis  
  • Both are located around 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital city Cairo
  • Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany revealed the finds to the press on Saturday 

Egypt has opened two of its oldest pyramids to the public for the first time since 1965, in a bid to attract more tourists to the area. 

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany announced the opening of the Bent Pyramid and its satellite pyramid in the Dahshur royal necropolis on Saturday.

Both are located around 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital Cairo in the Dahshur royal necropolis, which is part of the Memphis Necropolis.

They had been closed in order for excavations to be carried out, and for renovations to the ailing structures.

During excavations in the area, Egyptian archaeologists uncovered a collection of stone, clay and wooden sarcophagi, some of them with mummies. 

People gather during an inaugural ceremony in front of the Bent pyramid of King Sneferu, the first pharaoh of Egypt’s 4th dynasty, in the ancient royal necropolis of Dahshur on the west bank of the Nile River, south of the capital Cairo

A man brushes off dust from a sarcophagus, part of a new discovery carried out almost 300 meters south of King Amenemhat IIs pyramid at Dahshur necropolis

The Bent Pyramid, which was built during the Old Kingdom of the Pharaoh of Sneferu, in about 2600 B.C., is unique in that it has two internal structures

Now the excavations have been completed, tourists will be able to clamber down a narrow 79m tunnel from a raised entrance on the pyramid’s northern face to reach two chambers deep inside the ancient structure

The pyramids had been closed in order for excavations to be carried out, and for renovations to the ailing structures (pictured, people take photos of hieroglyphics near the Bent Pyramid)

The Bent Pyramid is reported to have got its name after – having been built on soft, silty clay – there was a problem with stability and subsidence

El-Anany said archaeologists also found wooden funerary masks along with instruments used for cutting stones, dating to the Late Period (664-332 B.C.).    

The Bent Pyramid, which was built during the Old Kingdom of the Pharaoh of Sneferu, in about 2600 B.C., is unique in that it has two internal structures. 

El-Anany said the Bent Pyramid represents a transitional form of pyramid construction between the Djoser Step Pyramid (2667-2648 B.C.) and the Meidum Pyramid (also about 2600 B.C.)

It is reported to have got its name after – having been built on soft, silty clay – there was a problem with stability and subsidence.

It had originally been hoped the pyramid would be a ‘true pyramid’ and have a steep-54-degree angle. But this was changed to 43 degrees.  

Egyptian tourist police stand with a recently discovered artifact at the Memphis necropolis during an event opening the Bent Pyramid

Women visit the Bent Pyramid during an during an event opening the pyramid and its satellites for visitors in Dashur, Egypt

Detail of a recently discovered sarcophagus at the Memphis necropolis during an event opening the pyramid and its satellites

Women look at recently discovered artifacts at the Bent Pyramid. El-Anany said archaeologists also found wooden funerary masks along with instruments used for cutting stones, dating to the Late Period (664-332 B.C.) 

A man walks in front of one the Bent pyramid satelites, in the ancient royal necropolis of Dahshur on the west bank of the Nile River

Visitors take selfies in front of the Bent Pyramid. The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities opened on Saturday the 4,600-year-old Bent Pyramid at Dahshur royal necropolis in Giza

A man walks through a passage in the well-known bent pyramid of King Snefru, which had been closed to visitors since 1965

Architects changed the angle when cracks started appearing in the structure, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

‘Sneferu lived a very long time…the architects wanted to reach the complete shape, the pyramid shape,’ Mohamed Shiha, director of the Dahshur site, said.

‘Exactly where he was buried — we are not sure of that. Maybe in this (Bent) pyramid, who knows?’

Its angular shape contrasts with the straight sides of Sneferu’s Red Pyramid just to the north. 

Mr Waziri said large stone blocks had been uncovered during excavations along with limestone and granite fragments indicating the existence of ancient graves in the area.

Now the excavations have been completed, tourists will be able to clamber down a narrow 79m tunnel from a raised entrance on the pyramid’s northern face to reach two chambers deep inside the ancient structure. 

Egypt has been whipping up publicity for its new historical discoveries in the hopes of reviving a devastated tourism sector still recovering from the turmoil following a 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany announced the opening of the Bent Pyramid and its satellite pyramid in the Dahshur royal necropolis on Saturday

A man kneels in front of a sarcophagus, part of a new discovery carried out almost 300 meters south of King Amenemhat IIs pyramid

The pyramids had been closed in order for excavations to be carried out (pictured, an excavated sarcophagi), and for renovations to the ailing structures.

A man kneels in front of a sarcophagus, part of a new discovery carried out almost 300 meters south of King Amenemhat IIs pyramid at Dahshur necropolis, exposed near the Bent Pyramid

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