4,300-years old Pyramid of Unas is now open to the public for the first time in two decades

4,300-Year_Pyramid_of_Unas_reopened_public_1The Pyramid of Unas, with the Step Pyramid in the background.

The Pyramid Complex of Unas at Saqqara (near Cairo) in Egypt harks back to 24th century BC, thus making it a bit ‘younger’ than the main pyramid complex at Giza. Built for Pharaoh Unas, the final ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, the compound was originally called Nefer Isut Unas (roughly translating to “Beautiful are the places of Unas”). The main pyramid in itself accounts for a substantial 141 ft of height, while flaunting a 36,000 sq ft of base area (thus equating to 60 percent of an American football field). And now the 4,300-years old architectural specimen is open to the public for the first time since 1996. This happy occurrence was a result of two decades of impressive renovation works that finally mitigated the high humidity levels adversely affecting the interior burial chamber of the Egyptian pyramid.

Suffice it to say, the opening was done in quite a festive mood, with the ceremony being attended by Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al Anany, along with other honchos of the archaeological institutes currently invested in the country. Now while the Pyramid of Unas is substantially large by its own parameters, the entire structure is certainly dwarfed by the Great Pyramid of Giza, which has a mind-boggling base area of around 570,000 sq ft (equivalent to almost 10 American football fields!). However beyond size, the Pyramid of Unas is historically significant because it is the first known Egyptian burial complex that incorporated specialized carvings now simply known as the Pyramid Texts. As archaeologist Sherif el Sabban made it clear –

The Pyramids Texts feature a collection of ancient Egyptian religious texts carved on the walls of royal burials for the purpose of protecting the pharaoh’s remains, reanimating his body after death, and helping him ascend to the heavens, which are the emphasis of the afterlife in the ancient Egyptian mythology.


Pyramids Texts inscribed on the walls of Pyramid of Unas. Credit: Ministry of Antiquities

This ‘tradition’ of royal pyramids incorporating such carvings went on for almost 200 years afterwards, till the Eighth Dynasty. In any case, coming back to the ambit of public openings, the Egyptian minister also inaugurated three other tombs that were successfully refurbished. Two of them include the Mastaba of Ankhmahor (circa 24th century BC) and the tomb of Nefer-Seshem-Ptah.

Source: The Cairo Post

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