History Files


Ancient Egypt

Fourth Dynasty Queen's Pyramid Found

BBC News, 5 May 2002

Archaeologists in Egypt say they have discovered the remains of a 4,500-year-old pyramid.

The edifice, outside Cairo, is believed to contain the tomb of an unidentified Egyptian queen.

It is the 110th pyramid to be uncovered in Egypt and the first for four years.

Zahi Hawass, the director of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Antiquities, said it was an exciting find.

"When we discover in Egypt a tomb or statue, it's something important. But when we discover a pyramid, it's the most important thing," he said.

Accidental discovery

Mr Hawass said a Swiss team found the pyramid "completely by accident".

They were excavating the burial site of fourth dynasty Pharaoh Dedefre (or Redjedef, the Greek version of his name), son of Khufu (Cheops), when they came across sharply cut blocks protruding from the ground above a square base.

The team spent two months investigating the pyramid, which was buried five metres (fifteen feet) underground and contained three chambers.

Mr Hawass said the archaeologists found part of a limestone sarcophagus, pieces of pottery and an alabaster jar used to store human innards following mummification.

The mummy, however, was missing, believed to have been taken by ancient grave robbers.


Mr Hawass said the size and location of the pyramid suggested the tomb belonged to a woman, possibly the sister, daughter or wife of Dedefre.

Hieroglyphics found in the tomb spelled out the word Khufu, said Mr Hawass.

Dedefre succeeded Khufu, whose Great Pyramid is one of the most well-known.

The last similar discovery occurred four years ago, when a Sixth Dynasty queen's pyramid was found at Saqqara, south of Cairo.



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