French archaeologists have discovered the 4,000-year-old remains
of an ancient queen's pyramid near Cairo.
The pyramid of Queen Ankh-sn-Pepi, wife of Pheops (Pepi) I
(2332-2283 BC), lies in Sakkara, an ancient royal cemetery just 32
kilometres (twenty miles) south of Cairo.
Archaeologists, led by Jean Leclant, found a stone in the
queen's burial chamber bearing special prayers to protect the dead
and ensure sustenance in the afterlife. Until this discovery, such
texts had only been found in the pyramids of pharaohs. Why they were
placed in the Queen's chamber remains a mystery.
The finding was one of several announced at the Eighth
International Congress of Egyptologists that has drawn some 1,500
archaeologists to Cairo.
In another discovery, Egyptian archaeologists said they had
found a painted tomb in the Western Desert. It was built by people
from a 600 BC culture that exported wine to the Nile valley.
Leading Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass said he saw a burial
chamber containing a four metre (thirteen feet) long stone coffin
through a hole in a wall of the tomb.
"It may be intact, and inside there is probably a wooden
sarcophagus and maybe even a mummy," said Dr Hawass. "We will start
excavating next week."