Egypt Opens Bent Pyramid to Tourists, Unveils New Archaeological Finds

Pharaoh Sneferu's Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, Egypt in 2007.

The Egyptian government has opened an unusual pyramid to the public for the first time in decades. Its Antiquities Ministry also put on display a host of significant archaeological finds recently discovered in the area.

Egypt on Saturday opened a pair of ancient pyramids for the first time since 1965. Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany told reporters that tourists will now be able to enter the Bent Pyramid and another nearby pyramid, located roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital, Cairo.

The 79-meter-tall (259 feet) Bent Pyramid was built for the Fourth Dynasty founding pharaoh, Sneferu, around 2,600 B.C. It is considered unique for its two internal chambers. The Bent Pyramid and its satellite pyramid are situated in the royal necropolis of Dahshur, a part of the Memphis Necropolis.

The design of the Bent Pyramid is considered unusual, as its first 49 meters are built at a steep 54 degree angle before tapering off in the top section. El-Anany said it represents a transitional period of pyramid design between the Djoser Step Pyramid (2,667-2,648 B.C.) and the Meidum Pyramid (around 2,600 B.C.).

Sarcophogi and mummies on display

El-Anany also said that archaeologists had uncovered a collection of stone, clay and wooden sarcophagi, some of them containing mummies, along with the remains of an ancient wall -- all of which date back to the Middle Kingdom, roughly 4,000 years ago.

"Several stone, clay and wooden sarcophagi were found and some contain mummies in good condition," the Antiquities Ministry said in a statement.

Archaeologists also presented a collection of funerary masks and tools for cutting stone that date from the Late Period (664-332 B.C.). The finds were made last year at the Dahshur necropolis during excavation work, which is set to continue.

The promotion of the Dahshur necropolis is part of the Egyptian government's push to attract more visitors to the region. The country's tourism industry has taken a significant downturn in the wake of the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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