4,600-Year-Old 'Mystery' Pyramid Excavated

Fallen structure may reveal ancient power shift in Egypt

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 3, 2014 4:03 PM CST

(Newser) – Archaeologists have excavated a 4,600-year-old pyramid in southern Egypt that was hidden under a pile of sand, waste, and its own remains, and come to a simple conclusion: They don't know what it's for. They do know the Edfu pyramid once stood 43 feet high and was brilliantly made in three blocks, LiveScience reports. It's also one of seven so-called "provincial" pyramids that may have been symbolic monuments affirming the king's power in those parts. "The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan," says study leader Gregory Marouard.

Supporting the royal-power theory, the researchers discovered an installation on the pyramid's east side that was apparently used for food offerings. But it seems the royals skipped off: By time Pharaoh Khufu came to power (2590-2563 BC), just 50 years after the pyramid was built, offerings weren't being made anymore and the pyramid had been abandoned. Khufu was focusing his resources on building the Great Pyramid at Giza, and may have felt his influence was assured in southern Egypt. The "center of gravity of Egypt was then at Memphis for many centuries—this region draining resources and manpower from the provinces," writes Marouard.

The remains of the pyramid at Edfu.
The remains of the pyramid at Edfu.   (YouTube)
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