Egyptian-German mission unearths new storage rooms in Sahura’s pyramid

A remarkable discovery has been made within Sahura’s pyramid, thanks to an Egyptian-German mission led by Dr. Mohamed Ismail Khaled, an Egyptologist from Julius-Maximilians-Universität of Würzburg (JMU). This exciting find includes previously undocumented storage rooms, shedding new light on the architectural marvel of Sahura’s pyramid. Sahura, the second king of the Fifth Dynasty (2400 BC), was the first to rest in peace at Abusir.

The conservation and restoration project within Sahura’s pyramid, initiated in 2019 and backed by the Antiquities Endowment Fund (AEF) of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), aimed to protect the pyramid’s substructure. The team’s efforts centered on cleaning interior chambers, stabilizing the pyramid’s structure, and preventing further deterioration. Remarkably, the team successfully gained access to the pyramid’s previously hidden burial chambers during this process.

A Briton with the right hunch

During the restoration efforts, the team made a fascinating revelation – they uncovered the original dimensions and floor plan of the antechamber, which had suffered from the ravages of time. To address the damage, they replaced the deteriorated walls with new retaining walls. The eastern wall of the antechamber was particularly in poor shape, with only the northeast corner and roughly 30 centimeters of the eastern wall remaining visible.

Interestingly, traces of a low passageway that John Perring had noted during his excavation back in 1836 were further excavated. Perring had mentioned that this passage had been obstructed by debris and waste, making it impassable due to decay. Initially, there had been speculations that it might have led to storage rooms, but doubts arose during Ludwig Borchardt’s exploration of the pyramid in 1907, and other experts shared his skepticism.

What makes this discovery even more remarkable is that the Egyptian-German team found traces of this passage, confirming Perring’s earlier observations. They continued their work, eventually uncovering eight storerooms. While the northern and southern portions of these storage chambers, including the ceilings and original floors, were heavily damaged, remnants of the original walls and some parts of the floor still remain visible.

Modern technology in use

Meticulous documentation of the floor plans and dimensions of each storage room has greatly enriched the researchers’ grasp of the pyramid’s internal layout. Throughout the restoration process, a delicate equilibrium was maintained, aiming to preserve the rooms’ structural integrity while ensuring accessibility for future research and potential public viewing.

Employing cutting-edge technology, such as the ZEB Horizon portable LiDAR scanner from GeoSLAM, the Egyptian-German team collaborated with the 3D Geoscan experts to conduct comprehensive surveys within the pyramid. This state-of-the-art tech facilitated detailed mapping, covering not only the expansive external areas but also the narrow passageways and chambers within. Frequent scanning provided real-time progress updates and established a lasting record of their exploration endeavors.

This groundbreaking undertaking marks a significant milestone in comprehending the Sahura pyramid and its historical importance. The discovery and restoration of these storerooms are poised to reshape our understanding of the historical evolution of pyramid structures and challenge established paradigms in the field.

Source: University of Würzburg

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