Giza Plateau News Articles

Sphinx and Osiris Pyramid

Pyramid Discovery May Offer Details on Pharaoh's Balding Mother

By Mahmoud Kassem - November 11, 2008 07:42 EST

Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Archaeologists digging near the world's oldest step-pyramid of Saqqara, the main burial site of ancient royal Egyptians before the pyramids of Giza, said today that they have discovered what may be the tomb of the mother of a sixth dynasty Pharaoh called Teti.

The pyramid was discovered about two months ago on a site that has been under excavation for 20 years, said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. Little remains except the base of the structure, which is believed to be about 4,300 years old and probably belonged to Queen Sesheshet, he told reporters at the site today.

"It's common for us to find a tomb or a statue, but to find a pyramid, that is rare,'' Hawass told reporters. ``There are probably many more discoveries to be made around this site.''

Hawass said that the ancient pyramid, the 118th to be found in Egypt, may be that of Teti's mother because two of the Pharaoh's wives are buried nearby in the necropolis. The archaeologists working on the site will only know for sure that it is Sesheshet once they enter the burial chamber and find inscriptions, Hawass said. It's unlikely that they will find any treasure inside as there are signs that thieves from ancient times hacked into the structure by digging a shaft, he said.

References to Queen Sesheshet have been found in ancient papyrus texts. In one of them, the queen made a request to doctors to find her a cure for hair loss, Hawass said. It's not clear if she was ever given one.

Around the pyramid, archaeologists found funerary figurines dating back to the third intermediary period (818-712 B.C.) as well as a New Kingdom chapel decorated with a scene of the dead making an offering to the god Osiris, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement.

Teti was the first pharaoh of the sixth dynasty and is also buried at Saqqara. The main step-pyramid at Saqqara of King Djoser is almost fully intact and is often visited by tourists along with the pyramids of Giza.


To contact the reporter on the story: Mahmoud Kassem in Cairo at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Merritt at; Jim Ruane at


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