Sunday, April 22, 2007

Restoring Djoser's Step Pyramid

"The Step Pyramid complex stood untouched until the 17th century, when European travellers attempted to enter and explore its underground chambers. At the turn of the 19th century, shortly after the Napoleon expedition to Egypt which attracted the world's attention to Egypt's various monuments and archaeological sites, research inside the pyramid began. In 1821 the Prussian General Johann Heinrich Freiherr von Minutoli discovered the access tunnel that leads under the pyramid from the north. In 1837 the British pyramid researcher John Perring found the underground galleries beneath the main structure. Soon after that, a Prussian expedition led by Karl Lepsius carried out more excavations on the pyramid side. Systematic archaeological research on the Djoser complex was first conducted only in the 1920s by the British archaeologist Cecil Firth. He was soon joined by the young French architect Jean-Philippe Lauer, who made the excavation of this complex his lifelong mission. Later, others would work at the site, but most of our current knowledge about this complicated structure can be attributed to Lauer.
Regretfully, however, the sands of time have taken their toll of the Step Pyramid. Most of its outer casing has gone, the core of the masonry has disappeared in some places, deep cracks have spread all over the walls and ceilings of the pyramid's underground corridors and its southern tomb, while several parts of the queen's tunnels, found beneath the pyramid's main shaft, have collapsed. For safety reasons the pyramid is closed to visitors.
Several solutions have been proposed to save this unique monument. Now, following three years of archaeological and scientific studies, a comprehensive restoration project to save and preserve this great pyramid from further destruction has been outlined."
See the above page for details.

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