The riddle of the pyramid of Sekhemhet

The riddle of the pyramid of Sekhemhet to this day raises many questions and hypotheses. It all began in the second half of the 20th century, when no one knew almost anything about any Farad of the Dynasty, with the exception of Djoser. But after Joser there were other kings of the III dynasty! It is known that after him at least four pharaohs ruled. But why so far no one has found any traces of their activities? Maybe the glory of the great Djoser overshadowed all the memories of his successors? The Egyptian archaeologist Mohammed Zakaria Goneim posed himself such questions all the time. Soon he began excavations near the Djoser pyramid and stumbled upon an amazing structure from intersecting walls. He made the main conclusion for himself: in front of him is the foundation of an ancient building, close in construction time to the step pyramid of Djoser and probably belonging to one of the mysterious pharaohs of the III dynasty! Now it was time to begin to solve the main problem: the search for the tomb itself.

The riddle of the pyramid of Sekhemhet to this day raises many questions and hypotheses

The found structure was indeed a stepped pyramid, but only the very first, lower, step was preserved from it. The entire structure occupied an area of 18 thousand square meters, that is, its base was larger than that of the Djoser pyramid. In this unfinished form, the pyramid reached a maximum height of about seven meters. No trace of the outer lining was visible anywhere. This meant that the builders managed to build only the inner base of the pyramid and that it was never completed.

There was numerous evidence that even at least three thousand years, and maybe more, no one disturbed the peace of this monument.

All this was very interesting, but Goneim sought to find a hidden entrance to the dungeon - to where, according to his calculations, the burial chamber should have been located.

And finally, archaeologists saw an entrance hole carved into the rock with a width of 1,93 m and a height of 2,34 m. The entrance was walled up and the masonry was completely untouched. This fact testified that the owner of the unfinished step pyramid rests here...

The sensational discovery was the first significant discovery in Egypt after the famous find of Carter!

Finds began. In the underground gallery of the pyramid, archaeologists have discovered hundreds of different stone vessels, similar to those found in the underground corridors of the Djoser pyramid. Here, in layers lay jugs of black and white porphyry, alabaster bowls and dishes. And then Goneim removed 21 gold bracelets, wraps and a gold rod, the wooden core of which has completely decayed. However, the pearl of this collection was a small box for grinding from hammered gold, having the shape of a bivalve shell.

Clearing the corridor, Goneim and his aides found small clay vessels of dark red color, sealed with dry clay. The name of the owner of the tomb, Sekhemhet, was imprinted on it. A find of the name of the hitherto unknown pharaoh of one of the most ancient dynasties is equal in value to the find of the pyramid itself!

Once in the tomb of the pharaoh Sekhemhet, Goneim saw a pale golden translucent alabaster sarcophagus. The upper part of the sarcophagus and the sarcophagus itself were made of one block. There were no inscriptions, reliefs and decorations on it.

The tomb in which the sarcophagus stood was rectangular in size 9x5,2 m, the height of the chamber was about 5 m.

When the workers began to lift the panel of the sarcophagus weighing 227 kilograms, Goneim knelt and looked inside. The sarcophagus was empty... And the longer Goneim studied the empty sarcophagus, the clearer it became that the mummy was never in it.

What happened? Robbery? But how could thieves get to the sarcophagus if all three walled passageways were intact and the alabaster sarcophagus itself was sealed? On the other hand, a funeral wreath lay on its lid. How to explain all this?

The riddle of the Sechemhet pyramid remained unsolved. Many hypotheses have been made. From the fact that the Sekhemhet pyramid remained unfinished, we can conclude that the pharaoh was buried elsewhere. Or was it a false tomb intended for ritual burial? It is known that the pharaohs of the first dynasties built themselves two tombs. This can also explain the presence of several tombs in a number of pyramids. But if Sekhemhet’s mummy was not in the sarcophagus, then where is he actually buried?

The riddle of the pyramid of Sekhemhet is devoted to many works. Unfortunately, the discoverer, Muhammad Zakaria Goneim, was not able to take part in the unfolding discussion: in 1957, the scientist died tragically.