An Egyptian pyramid uncovered near the ancient settlement of Edfu is said to date back 4,600 years, at least several decades before the Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed.
Having once stood approximately 43 feet high, the step pyramid has been reduced to a height of just 16 feet over time due largely to exposure from the elements and pillaging individuals.
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The pyramid is one of seven so-called "provincial" pyramids that were constructed under the direction of either the pharaoh Huni, whose reign lasted from 2635 to 2610 B.C. or Snefru, who ruled Egypt from 2610 to 2590 B.C., Live Science reported
The dig at the site was begun in 2010 and led by Gregory Marouard, a research associate at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.
"The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan," Marouard told Live Science.
Unlike other pyramids, the provincial step pyramids are not hollowed out and were not built for burial purposes. All were located near major settlements and their exact purpose remains a mystery, though archeologists believe they were likely used a royal cult as symbols of the king's power throughout the provinces, according to Live Science.
Though archeologists could not yet explain the pyramid's exact purpose in Ancient Egyptian society, they were able to determine that food offerings appear to have been made on one side of the pyramid.
Additionally, the archeologists discovered hieroglyphic graffiti and the skeletal remains of children and babies buried at the foot of the pyramid.
"These are mostly private and rough inscriptions, and certainly dedicated to the child/babies' burials located right under these inscriptions at the foot of the pyramid," Marouard told Live Science in an email.
According to the archaeologists, the pyramid had been abandoned by 2590 to 2563, during the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu, who was responsible for building the Great Pyramid of Giza.
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