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Discovery of 4600 year old step pyramid with remains of buried children stuns archaeologists

4 February 2014, 1:51 pm EST By Alex Saltarin Tech Times
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Archaeologists have been stumped by the discovery of a 4,600-year-old step pyramid in Egypt. The pyramid was found near an ancient settlement called Edfu, and is older than the Great Pyramid of Giza.  ( TELL EDFU Project University of Chicago Oriental Institute )

Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered a 4,600-year-old step pyramid at a site, which was once a settlement called Edfu thousands of years ago.

Due to the age of the find in the southern part of the country, the researchers say that the step pyramid is even older than the Great Pyramid of Giza. When it was first built, the structure would have stood 43 feet tall. However, subsequent looting of the blocks making up the pyramid has brought down the once majestic structure to a mere 16 feet in height. Aside from the pillaging of the blocks, scientists also believe that erosion and weathering contributed to the dilapidation of the pyramid

Archaeologists and Egyptologists are unsure who built the pyramid but the two top choices include Snefru or Huni. Snefru was a pharaoh whose reign extends from 2610 BC to 2590 BC. On the other hand, Huni reigned from 2635 BC to 2610 BC.

"These pyramids date to the reign of Huni, the last ruler of the Third Dynasty, or possibly Snofru, his successor," says Nadine Moeller and Grogory Marouard from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. "The pyra- mid at Seila had some cult installations and two stelae that mention Snofru's name, but it is unknown whether he mainly finished or expanded on the work of his father Huni."

The step pyramid is also believed to be part of seven pyramids constructed in more "provincial" locations compared to major pyramids like the ones at Giza. Almost all (six out of seven) of the pyramids have very similar characteristics and dimensions. Due to the lack of an interior chamber, scientists believe that these structures were constructed for purposes other than burial. However, experts are currently unsure regarding the exact purpose of these pyramids.

Another interesting characteristic about the newly-found pyramid is that hieroglyphs were found etched on the outer surfaces of the structure. While the pyramid lacked a burial chamber, archaeologists found the remains of children buried around the structure. The researchers who have studied the site believe that the hieroglyphs and the remains were added at a later date indicating that this was not the original purpose of the pyramid.

While new discoveries continue to be made in Egypt, archaeologists are starting to worry about the encroachment of modern buildings and facilities around valuable sites. The newly found pyramid is relatively close to a modern village. To keep the site secure, a fence has also been erected around the area of the pyramid.

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