The Great Pit of Zawyet El Aryan

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Winged Isis
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The Great Pit of Zawyet El Aryan

Post by Winged Isis »

Well I never! You learn something new every day.

The Great Pit of Zawyet El Aryan — in Zawyet El Aryan.

The Northern Pyramid of Zawyet el-Aryan, also known as Pyramid of Baka and Pyramid of Bikheris, is a huge, unfinished pyramid located within Zawyet el-Aryan in Egypt. The original builders are not known for certain. The Baka pyramid can be found in the northern part of Zawyet el-Aryan, around 8 km south-west of Giza. Today the site lies within what is currently a military restricted area.
The first excavations and descriptions of the monument were performed during 1842 and 1846 by German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius. He investigated the shaft and its surroundings and marked it in his pyramid list as Pyramid XIII. In the years 1905 to 1912, the pyramid shaft was closer examined by Italian archaeologist Alessandro Barsanti, who unfortunately died in 1917. The First World War brought the excavations to a halt until 1954. In this year a film set construction for the movie "Land of the Pharaoh," directed by Howard Hawk's was needed and the landscape of Zawyet el-Aryan seemed to be perfect, but the shaft and its surrounding area had to be freed from sand and rubble, which had devoured the area over time.

Today, the Baka pyramid lies within a military restricted area since 1964. No excavations are allowed, the original necropolis is overbuilt with military bungalows and the shaft is now used as a local dump. Thus, the current condition of the megalithic shaft is uncertain and most likely neglected.

Next to nothing is known about the superstructure. Only the quadratic base, made of natural bedrock, was finished. It measures 200 x 200 meters and shows traces of a surrounding pedestrian, preserved for the lime stone covering. If the pyramid was planned to have a slope of 52°, as the Khufu pyramid does, the building would have reached a size close to the Khafre pyramid. However, the exact planned size and slope cannot be evaluated, because the limestone casing stones were never found which tends to support the view that the pyramid was never completed.

The substructure consists of a T-shaped shaft, the passage facing south to north, the chamber facing east to west. The complete shaft has no ceiling anymore and it's possible, that it never had any. A steep stairway leads down to the chamber, at the half of its way the stairs are interrupted by horizontal landing of unknown purpose. The chamber was obviously never finished and the shaft walls were noticeably smooth but never covered with stones. Only the floor of the chamber was finished and covered with massive granite blocks, each being 4.5m long and 2.5m thick and weighing up to 9 tons each. Close to the western end of the chamber an unusually large pink granite 'sarcophagus' was found. It had an oval shape and was embedded into one of the floor blocks. It seems obvious, that the said sarcophagus was brought into the chamber during the foundation laying, since it was too big to fit through the passageway. The sarcophagus was said to be 3.15m long, 2.22m wide, and 1.50m in depth. An oval lid was also found on site. According to Barsanti, small traces of a burial were supposedly found inside the 'sarcophagus,' but unfortunately they were never examined closer and today they are lost. Furthermore, Barsanti claims to have found a damaged dedication tablet with the name of King Djedefre on it.

During Barsanti’s excavations, the archaeologists were puzzled when the trench filled with rainwater which to there surprise drained very quickly, suggesting that there may have been an undiscovered passage or chamber beneath the site.

The pyramid complex consisted of an enclosure wall measuring 465 x 420 meters . The alignment of the necropolis is very similar to that of the Djedefre pyramid. Since not even a first layer of the pyramid was started, the necropolis was also left unfinished. There are no traces of a mortuary temple, a causeway, a valley temple, or other cultic buildings.

Egyptologists and Historians are said to have found several pieces of graffiti in the chamber along the passage made of black ink. They call different names of workmen's crews and the name of the planned necropolis: Seba[-weref] ?-Ka ([great] star of ?-Ka). They also mention twice an interesting royal name: Nebkare (Lord of the Ka of Re). It is unknown, if it's actually the name of a (yet unknown) king, or that of a prince. A further inscription mentions a possible Gold name: Neb hedjet-nwb (Lord of the Golden Crown). Some Egyptologists propose to see it either as the Horus name of king Huni or as the Gold name of king Nebka but none of their claims has ever been proven.

One of the the main problems at this site was deciphering the correct translation of a cartouche name found within six ink inscriptions. Whilst the lower (therefore second) hieroglyphic sign is for sure a Ka-symbol, the early sign is illegible. Unfortunately the excavator, Alessandro Barsanti, made no facsimiles, but slipshod hand-drawings, so that the last sign remains indefinable. As a consequence, there are several alternative readings of the cartouche name: Kurt Sethe reads Nebka (His Ka is the Lord), Jean-Philippe Lauer as Bik-Ka (His Ka is Divine), Peter Kaplony reads Schena-Ka (His Ka is Forceful) and Gaston Maspero reads Nefer-Ka (His Ka is Beautiful).

Hopefully one day archaeologists and researchers will be allowed to return and perform a proper investigation once again but when that might happen is uncertain.

Photos here: ... n__=-UCH-R

Carpe diem! :le:

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