Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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110 and Counting... Volume 55 Number 4, July/August 2002
by Mark Rose

"To be sure, it is not the tomb of Tutankhamun, but it recalls the story of Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon just the same," says Michel Valloggia of his discovery of a pyramid five miles north of Giza. The find came as archaeologists from the Swiss-French team Vallogia leads explored the precinct surrounding the pyramid of the 4th Dynasty pharaoh Djedefre.

Completed at the end of April, a two-month excavation exposed the remains of the diminutive pyramid, which measures only about 35 feet on each side. The tomb beneath held limestone sarcophagus fragments, an alabaster canopic jar that would have held one of the deceased's organs, and pieces of ceramic water vessels.

Djedefre succeeded his father Khufu (r. ca. 2589-2566 B.C.), who built the largest pyramid at Giza, but for some reason he chose to build his own pyramid and mortuary complex at Abu Roash to the north. After Djedefre's death, the throne passed to his brother Khafre, who returned to Giza where he built his own pyramid, the second largest there, and the Sphinx.

The newly found pyramid is in the southeast corner of Djedefre's pyramid precinct, corresponding to one, already known, that is in the southwest corner. It is tempting to link them with his two known wives, Khentetenka and Hetepheres II. Hieroglyphs spelling Khufu's name on a broken alabaster plate found in the tomb confirm a link to the royal family.

For those keeping track, the discovery brings the total of known pyramids to 110 according to Zahi Hawass, director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America