Egypt Opens King Djoser's Southern Tomb

It's been undergoing restoration work since 2006
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 14, 2021 12:18 PM CDT
In Pictures: Egypt Opens Pharaoh's Ancient Tomb
Inscriptions and details adorn the wall of the southern cemetery of King Djoser, after its restoration, near the famed Step Pyramid, in Saqqara, south of Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.   (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Egypt on Tuesday opened to the public an ancient tomb structure belonging to the cemetery complex of King Djoser, a pharaoh who lived more than 4,500 years ago, following extensive restorations of the site. The structure—known as the Southern Tomb—is largely underground and includes a labyrinth of corridors, decorated with hieroglyphic carvings and tiles. Restoration work on it started in 2006 and included reinforcing of the underground corridors, refurbishing the carvings and the tiled walls, and installing lighting.

However, the pharaoh was not actually buried there but in the nearby Step Pyramid. The AP reports that's the oldest known pyramid, per UNESCO, and one believed to have been the inspiration for the Pyramids at Giza. The two structures make up part of the Saqqara complex near Cairo—one of the country’s richest archeological sites. In addition to the Southern Tomb and Step Pyramid, the Saqqara plateau hosts at least more 10 pyramids, as well as hundreds of tombs of ancient officials.

The Saqqara site is part of the necropolis of Egypt’s ancient capital of Memphis that includes the famed Giza Pyramids, as well as smaller pyramids at Abu Sir, Dahshur, and Abu Ruwaysh. The ruins of Memphis were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 1970s. Egypt has publicized a string of recent archaeological finds over the past year in an effort to revive its key tourism sector, which was badly hit by the turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising. (More pyramid stories.)

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