An Egyptian archaeology team has uncovered a “new” Ancient Egyptian pyramid dating back to around 3,700 years ago.
That’s about 1680 B.C., which isn’t even so old for a civilization that began around 3150 B.C. The pyramid discovered was probably built during the 13th Dynasty, a period about which historians know relatively little because few surviving monuments have been found — which is why the discovery of this pyramid is particularly exciting. The remaining structure is in good condition and contains extensive hieroglyphics; researchers are currently working on deciphering them.
In a statement from Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities, official Adel Okasha said (via Google Translate), “The archaeological mission is now studying the extensive texts of hieroglyphics while continuing the excavation work to uncover the rest of the pyramid and reveal its secrets.”
Archaeologists can’t yet discern the size of the full pyramid or how much of it is still intact. So far they’ve only uncovered structures on the inside, including corridors, interior walls, ramps, and columns.
The Associated Press, which first broke the story in English, erroneously reported that this new pyramid was one of Ancient Egypt’s first attempts at building a smooth-sided pyramid.
A translation error may have confused this new find with a previously discovered pyramid in the same Dahshur necropolis south of Cairo. Dahshur’s famous “Bent Pyramid” (circa 2600 B.C.) was an attempt to build a smooth-sided structure after years of step-sided pyramids. Its walls bend at an angle; some historians think that builders changed the shape in the middle of its construction after detecting structural instability.
The newly discovered pyramid was built about a thousand years later, around 900 years after the famous Great Pyramid. That’s near the end of the Middle Kingdom period and close to the time when Ancient Egyptians stopped making pyramids altogether.
Researchers aren’t yet sure who is buried — pyramids doubled as ostentatious tombs — inside this new structure, though the Dahshur necropolis has previously been found to contain the remains of high-ranking officials like courtiers.