Egypt’s Bent Pyramid Opens to Visitors for First Time in 54 Years
ِAccording to Al-Masry Al-Youm, yesterday, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities inaugurated two of the country’s oldest pyramids in the south of Cairo. The famed Bent Pyramid of King Sneferu, the first Pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, and a nearby lesser-known pyramid that is said to belong to the Pharaoh’s wife Hetepheres, as well as a collection of newly-discovered sarcophagi with well-preserved mummies, are now open to the public for the first time since 1965.
Khaled Al-Anani, the antiquities minister, has stated that a team of archaeologists has unearthed these sarcophagi in addition to the ruins of an ancient wall that goes all the way back to the Middle Kingdom of ancient Egypt some 4,600 years ago.
The findings were part of the excavation work at the royal necropolis of Dahshur on the west bank of the Nile River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site well-known for its ancient pyramids and ruins.
“Several stone, clay, and wooden sarcophagi were found and some contain mummies in good condition,” the antiquities ministry revealed in a statement.
In the Dahshur Necropolis, to the south of King Amenemhat II’s pyramid, the discovered ancient wall stretches 60 meters, standing the test of time. Furthermore, funerary masks and a number of tools used for cutting stone, dating back to the Late Period, which spanned about 300 years up to Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C.
The Bent Pyramid is named in such a manner because of its tapered upper section. Egyptologists consider it as one of the first attempts at building a complete pyramid and was crucial in our ancestor’s understanding of how to erect such majestic structures that made the ancient Egyptian civilization stand out amongst others.
The Bent Pyramid is one of three built in honor of King Seneferu, the founder of the ancient Egyptian Fourth Dynasty. The 101-meter colossal edifice was closed to the public in 1965 for restoration works after cracks started appearing in the structure.
“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.
To this day, the burial site of King Seneferu remains unknown. Some experts speculate that it is in this bent pyramid.
According to the Guardian, tourists today can clamber down a 79-meter narrow tunnel from a raised entrance on the pyramid’s northern face to reach two chambers deep inside the 4,600-year-old structure.
Today, the antiquities ministry is becoming increasingly involved in a number of excavation projects of Egypt’s lesser-known history. The effort comes as a part of Egypt’s campaign to revive tourism.