Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Video: Underneath the Step Pyramid with Dr Hawass

A video is now showing on Zahi Hawass's website at the above address. Here's the caption:

Djoser, the first king of Egypt’s 3rd Dynasty, was buried inside a massive, red granite sarcophagus at the bottom of a 30 meter-deep shaft underneath the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. This great tomb, designed by the brilliant architect Imhotep, is Egypt’s first pyramid and the world’s first monumental work of architecture in stone.

For the last year, an all-Egyptian team has been working to conserve and restore this precious part of the legacy of ancient Egypt. The team’s latest achievement has been to clear a deep layer of debris covering the king’s sarcophagus. The surface of the sarcophagus is now visible for the first time in recent memory. In addition, the team has located a passage leading underneath the sarcophagus, allowing scholars to examine it from all sides. A scaffolding will soon be installed in the central shaft to support the fragile walls and ceiling and prevent debris from falling into the burial chamber. This work is challenging and dangerous, and poses many tough issues for conservators.

If urgent action is not taken, however, the Step Pyramid could be lost to future generations. Zahi Hawass has empowered his team to make tough decisions and take decisive steps to protect this irreplaceable cultural treasure.

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