for National Geographic News
A new pyramid has been discovered deep beneath Egyptian sands, archaeologists announced today.
The 4,300-year-old monument is believed to be the tomb of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of Pharaoh Teti, the founder ancient Egypt's 6th dynasty.
Once nearly five stories tall, the pyramid—or at least what remains of it—lay beneath 23 feet (7 meters) of sand.
The discovery is the third known subsidiary, or satellite, pyramid to the tomb of Teti. It's also the second pyramid found this year in Saqqara, an ancient royal burial complex near current-day Cairo.
(See "'Lost' Pyramid Found Buried in Egypt" [June 5, 2008].)
"I always say you never know what the sands of Egypt might hide," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).
"This might be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," added Hawass, who is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
Surprise in the Sand
Archaeologists also found remnants of a white limestone casing for the surviving, 16-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) pyramid base. The angle of the base helped them determine that the pyramid's walls stood at a 51-degree angle.
Based on that angle, the team determined that the pyramid was originally 46 feet (14 meters) tall and about 72 feet (22 meters) square at its base.
The researchers were somewhat surprised to find a pyramid at the Teti site, since they thought the area had been thoroughly searched. Archaeologists had already found subsidiary pyramids for Teti's two principal wives Iput I and Khuit, about a hundred years ago and in 1994, respectively.
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