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Rights of passage
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 05 - 06 - 2008

An avenue of sphinxes to mark the funeral processions of the sacred Apis bulls and the superstructure of an unidentified pyramid were found this week at Saqqara, reports Nevine El-Aref
The area around the pyramid of King Teti I in the Saqqara necropolis, 35km south of Giza, has been brimming with activity as an Egyptian archaeological mission led by Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), excavated a Ptolemaic section of an avenue of sphinxes, known to Egyptologists as an Anubieion.
That the avenue existed was known among Egyptologists from the study of Greek manuscripts and documents unearthed beside the Serapeum, the huge catacombs of the Apis bulls. It was described as a road along which the funeral procession of the Apis bull would pass on its way from the Anubis temples, which Egyptologists suggest were at the beginning of the Anubiun and from where a priest wearing the mask of Anubis would lead to the mummy of the bull to the Serapeum, where it would be buried.
Hawass pointed out that part of the avenue was uncovered by French archaeologist Auguste Mariette in 1850. The western end of this section led to the Serapeum and the eastern end ran towards the Anubis temples, and was thus given the name Anubieion by the Greeks.
During these recent excavations, Hawass continued, another section of the road dating to the Ptolemaic era had been found. On the east it runs towards the green valley on a lower level of the archaeological site, and extends until it reaches the Anubiun gate.
A limestone relief of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205- 180 BC) has been unearthed there, which means that the newly discovered section of the avenue may be the southern edge of the Anubis temple.
Neighbouring the avenue, the mission discovered a superstructure of an unidentified pyramid. Archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius mentioned this pyramid in his scientific documents, giving it the number 29. Hawass told Al-Ahram Weekly that the pyramid was long covered by sand and no Egyptologist had succeeded in locating it again until recent excavation work was being carried out beside the pyramid of Teti I, founder of the Sixth Dynasty (2374 -2354 BC). The entrance of the pyramid and its walls and burial chamber have also been discovered.
Some Egyptologists believe that the newly discovered pyramid goes back to the Old Kingdom, while others say it dates from the Middle Kingdom.
Inside the burial chamber was a white limestone block, which may be the northern wall of the burial chamber. Also found was the lid of the sarcophagus and a pit used to install the box of the canopic jars which held the mummy's internal organs. Although there is no cartouche that could lead archaeologists to the owner of the pyramid, Hawass believes that it belonged to King Menkaw-Hur of the Fifth Dynasty.


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