Pyramids bring to mind great, towering burial structures, built stone-by-stone by slaves sweating in the Egyptian heat, with hidden entrances and underground passages leading to a room holding the sarcophagus of an ancient king, and filled with much of his earthly treasure.
The most recent pyramid uncovered, however, is one of seven known to have no internal chamber. They’re being called ‘provincial’ pyramids, and their purpose is still a matter of some speculation to scientists.
The new pyraid appears to have identical dimensions to five of the other six, and researchers are certain the seven are related in purpose. Due to weathering and pillaging, the remaining portion of the pyramid is only 16 feet high, but once would have stood nearly three times that at 43 feet tall.
It’s believed to be 4,600 years old, which makes it older than the Great Pyramid at Giza.
On the east side of the pyramid, archaeologists found the remains of a structure used for making food offerings, and on the sides of the pyramid, hieroglyphics inscribed included a seated man, a book roll, a leaf, a bird, and a four-legged animal.
Gregory Maraourd, a research associate University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute who led the work at the Edfu pyramid, told LiveScience:
These are mostly private and rough inscriptions, and certainly dedicated to the child/babies’ burials located right under these inscriptions at the foot of the pyramid.
The team will be publishing photos and more information about those burials soon, he says.
A photo series surrounding the pyramid and the process of uncovering it can be found here.