After hearing in class that Egyptian pyramids are still being discovered, many of which have been found in the last four years, I was interested to see how a structure as massive as a pyramid could stay undetected for thousands of year. The best example I found was the newly excavated step Pyramid in Edfu. The pyramid is estimated to be 4600 years old, older than the great pyramids at Giza. Although its presence has been known since 1864, excavation only began recently by archaeologists from the University of Chicago in 2010.
The structure was found buried under a layer of sand, modern waste, and broken stone 500 miles south of modern day Cairo. It had little resemblance to a pyramid and was thought to be a tomb of a local Muslim saint by the locals. Once excavated, the pyramid was found to have a three step structure that could have one reached a height of 42 feet with a base of 60 x 61 feet . The pyramid was found to be constructed with only local materials, sandstone blocks and clay mortar. The quarry was found in 2011, a half mile away. The majority of the stones have been pilfered overtime leaving about one third of the pyramid remaining, at a height of 16 feet. The pyramids have no internal burial structure and were not used as tombs. Hieroglyphs were discovered on the lower courses of the pyramid, added in a later period.
The pyramid in Edfu is one of seven “provincial” pyramids. All of the pyramids share very similar structures and have a clear relation to one another. It is still undetermined what pharaoh built the pyramids, but there is support for Huni or his son Snefru. The true purpose of the pyramids is still unknown, though there are two theories. The first theory is that the pyramids were symbols of royal power. Since the pharaoh ruled from nearly 500 miles away in Memphis and the pyramids would serve as a reminder to the people in the provinces that the pharaoh was truly in charge and that Egypt was one unified state. It could also be that the pyramids were where the people worship their king who was seen as a living god. There was a stone foundation uncovered on the east side of the pyramid in Edfu that could be the remains of a chapel. A majority of the potsherds uncovered were located near the chapel and are believed to be offering to the pharaoh.