On Sunday I went to Dahshur to visit my excavations in an area south of Saqqara. We began this work when satellite images showed a pyramid hidden below the sand. We have found several unique 6th Dynasty tombs at this site, but the most important discoveries we have made is a large mud brick enclosure wall measuring three meters high. Inside this enclosure we expected to find tombs that reach down to bedrock; these tombs were built in this style to decrease the chances of tomb robberies. Tombs such as this have previously been found in the area.
Another interesting site that we have been working on is to the north of the pyramid of Khendjer, where we found the limestone enclosure wall of the pyramid. We know that this area had previously been excavated by Gustave Jéquier, but his work went unifinished.
The other site is the unknown pyramid, also found by Jéquier; satellite images from Robert Scheistl show one pyramid with its superstructure above ground. Components that may reveal the name of the owner of the pyramid have been discovered and we are working on piecing them together. We have found the remains of a mud brick structure, and while at this time it is difficult know what purpose it served, this structure may have served as a funerary temple. Excavations have stopped due to revolution, but we hope to continue in the near future.
What shocked me the most during my visit to the area was the damage inflicted on the archaeological sites by modern people since the revolution started in late January. Villagers forcefully moved onto 15 acres next to the Mastaba Faraun and the pyramids of Pepi I and II; I am sure that this area contains archaeological remains dating to the Old Kingdom, over 4,000 years ago. The people built a cemetery with about 500 huge tombs, about 4m high and 6x5m wide. The people who built these tombs intend to sell them.
In Abusir, an area that contains tombs from the 1st and 2nd Dynasty, villagers took over 10 acres and built modern tombs above the ancient tombs. A mosque has been built on the 5th Dynasty causeway of Djedkare-Isesi. All these illegal structures have been seen by UNSECO representatives who visited the area last week. I believe that destroying ancient monuments and archeological sites is a serious crime. I have asked the authorities to immediately remove the recent construction and new buildings.
On a happier note, we were able to recover an additional five objects that were among those missing from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. These five pieces were found yesterday with three of the criminals who broke into the museum. They took the five objects to Khan el-Khalili in order to sell them. A man at the bazaar told the criminals that he would pay 1500LE for the pieces. The looters said that the pieces were from the museum and worth much more than that price. After this, the man informed the police who apprehended the criminals. The five objects are bronze pieces dating to the Late Period: a scepter, a statue of an Apis Bull, a seated statue of Bastet, a statue of Neith, and a statue of Osiris. There are 37 objects still missing from the museum, but I am confident that they will be found soon.