Egyptian archaeologists excavating in the Dahshur Necropolis at an area north of King Senefru’s Bent Pyramid, have made an exciting discovery – a 13th dynasty pyramid that experts never knew existed. The sections that have been uncovered so far are in remarkably good condition, leading to hope and anticipation about what may lie within.
Pyramid’s Remains are in Very Good Condition
According to Ahram Online, Mahmoud Afifi, the head of the ancient Egyptian antiquities sector at the antiquities ministry, was the one who announced the new discovery, adding that the remains are in a very good condition and further excavation will take place to reveal more of the structure. The remains of the 13th Dynasty pyramid were found by an Egyptian archaeological mission excavating in the Dahshur Necropolis at an area north of King Senefru’s Bent Pyramid.
What Has Been Discovered So Far?
Adel Okasha, director general of the Dahshur Necropolis stated that the uncovered fragments of the pyramid show part of its inner structure, which appears to be composed of a corridor that leads to the inside of the pyramid and a hall leading to a southern ramp in addition to a room that was found at the western end of the pyramid. Egypt Independent also mentions that a 15cm by 17cm alabaster block was also discovered in the corridor, inscribed with ten vertical hieroglyphic lines, which is currently under examination to decipher its meaning. A granite lintel and a collection of stone blocks showing the interior design of the pyramid were the last pieces found of the unearthed structure. Associated Press reports that due to the bent slope of its sides, the pyramid is believed to have been ancient Egypt’s first attempt to build a smooth-sided pyramid.
The alabaster block with ten hieroglyphic lines (Ahram Online)
So who was the pyramid built for? A look at the 13th Dynasty may give some hints.
13th Dynasty of Egypt
Lasting for more than 150 years, the 13th Dynasty is best remembered for producing an uncertain number of kings. Some historians often combine it with Dynasties 11, 12 and 14 under the group title ‘Middle Kingdom’. Other historians, however, distinguish it from these dynasties and join it with Dynasties 14 through 17 as part of the ‘Second Intermediate Period’. The 13th Dynasty lasted from approximately 1803 until 1649 BC.
It was a direct continuation of the preceding 12th dynasty and as direct heirs to the kings of the 12th dynasty, pharaohs of the 13th dynasty reigned from Memphis over Middle and Upper Egypt, all the way to the second cataract to the south. Even though the decline in central power came gradually during this period, private monuments testify that Egypt was still a prosperous country. The power of the king was largely replaced with the power of the vizier, who kept the king as the symbolic leader. The 13th dynasty eventually came to end by military defeat to the Hyksos and with it the Middle Kingdom came to an end as well.
The Dahshur Necropolis was the burial site for courtiers and high-ranking officials, so it is possible the pyramid was built in honor of a powerful vizier, or possibly even a pharaoh.
The Bent Pyramid seen from the foot of the Red Pyramid. Dahshur, Egypt (Looklex Egypt)
Further analysis will soon take place in order to learn more about the pyramid’s owner and the kingdom to which it belongs.
Top image: The corridor leading to the interior of the newly-discovered pyramid (Ahram Online)