The Company Restoring Egypt’s Oldest Pyramid Has Actually Made It Worse

Activists say a 4,600-year-old pyramid designed by Imhotep has deteriorated and partially collapsed.

Egypt’s oldest pyramid, the Pyramid of Djoser, in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara, is looking a little worse for the wear. After more than 4,600 years in the desert, some of the stones have eroded or fallen away, a rising water table has weakened the bedrock below the tombs, and a 1992 earthquake put the structure at risk. Unfortunately, the company hired to restore the ancient pyramid starting in 2006 may have made it worse.

Activists tell the Egypt Independent that the company, Shurbagy, has continued working on the pyramid after overseeing its deterioration and partial collapse.

Flickr user Will Scullin

Activist Amir Gamal of the "Non-Stop Robberies" movement told Egypt Independent that "New walls were built outside the pyramid as if the pyramid were a modern construction, which is opposite to international standards of restoration, which prevents adding more than 5% of construction to antiquities if necessary." He continued to say that "Adding the modern construction is a large pressure on the decaying pyramid, which threatens catastrophe."

Built in the 27th century B.C. for Pharaoh Djoser, the 200-foot-tall step pyramid was designed by one of the earliest known architect-engineers in history, Imhotep. It’s considered the earliest example of large-scale construction with cut stone in the world, a major deviation from the low, flat-roofed, mud-brick design of earlier Egyptian burial sites. Archeologists have criticized Egyptian authorities for choosing Shurbagy to oversee the restoration, as the company had not previously completed any restoration projects.

[h/t Egypt Independent]

[Top photo: Flickr user Jorge Láscar]

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