Egypt Opens an Ancient Pyramid to Tourists

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Egyptian officials announced the opening of the so-called “Bent” Pyramid to the public for the first time ever, following the completion of restoration work.

Built around 2,600 BCE, it is one of two pyramids built for Fourth Dynasty founding pharaoh, Sneferu. The 330-foot structure, officials say, represents a prime example of early pyramid development, and denotes a key step in the evolution of pyramid construction.

Visitors can now also enter an adjoining 60-foot “side pyramid”, which was possibly built to entomb Sneferu’s wife, Hetepheres, which has been opened for the first time since its excavation in 1956.

Archaeologists, who began the site’s excavation in August 2018, uncovered stone, clay and wooden sarcophagi, as well as a collection of wooden funerary masks and tools for cutting stones.

The Bent Pyramid takes its name from its unusual shape, which incorporates two separate angles of inclination. Its first 160 feet are built at a steep 54-degree angle and have mostly retained their smooth limestone casing over the centuries, while the top section tapers off at a shallower angle.

The opening of Senefru’s Bent pyramid and the announcement of a new discovery consists of a collection of clay and wooden sarcophagi with mummies and funerary masks#egypt #egyptology #dahshurpyramid #news #newspapers #Media420 pic.twitter.com/2dkUtSC63K

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Reuters that ancient architects noticed signs of instability during the initial construction and thus changed the angle of their construction to 45 degrees part-way through the project.

When the structure began to show signs of decay, builders began work on another pyramid adjacent to Bent—the Red Pyramid—to serve as a royal burial site. The Red Pyramid, with its straight sides, became the first of ancient Egypt’s fully formed pyramids and the next step toward the Great Pyramid of Giza.

According to state media agency Al Ahram, Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, stated that part of the pyramid’s restoration work involved the installation of external and internal lighting systems, as well as wooden ramps and stairs to accommodate visitors.

From a raised entrance on the pyramid’s northern face, intrepid tourists will now be able to make their way down its narrow 260-foot passageway, which leads to two inner burial chambers.

During Saturday’s inaugural event, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany explained to foreign ambassadors and media representatives from over 40 countries that the Bent Pyramid is located in the royal Dahshur Necropolis, and has been placed on the UNESCO’s world heritage list as part of the Memphis Necropolis that begins at Giza.

For more information, visit Egypt.travel.

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