Egypt reopens Pyramid of Unas

31 de maio de 2016

 São Paulo – Egypt reopened last week the Pyramid of Unas for public visitation after being closed for 20 years. The monument, located within the Saqqara necropolis, near Cairo, is famous for being the first to have funeral texts in its inner walls, known as the Pyramid Texts. Before, the inner walls of these pharaonic tombs didn’t have any inscriptions, as is the case of the three great pyramids of Giza, also located near the Egyptian capital.

The texts describe rituals, prayers and hymns and were intended to guide the dead king in his way to the other world. Unas was the last monarch of the 5th Pharaoh Dynasty of Egypt, during the so called Old Kingdom. He ruled for around 30 years during the 24th century B.C..

The site is located near the most famous monument of Saqqara, the step pyramid of Zoser, considered to be Egypt’s first. From outside, the Unas tomb draws little attention, since it’s in ruins. The real attractions lie inside the mortuary temple, the carved inscriptions, the ceiling that replicates a star-filled sky and other art works painted or sculpted in the walls.

The pattern inaugurated by Unas was followed by subsequent pharaohs and Saqqara gathers other similarly decorated tombs. The inscriptions of the Pyramid of Unas were first found by the French archeologist Gaston Maspero in 1881.

 According to information on the website of the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, the site was closed for the public since 1996 due to high levels of humidity that was affecting the walls of the funerary chamber of the monument.

The newspaper adds that equipment was installed to monitor and control the humidity and temperature inside the pyramid. In the reopening ceremony, which was attended by the minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, guests lit candles and held a vigil for the 66 victims of the EgyptAir flight that crashed on May 19 going from Paris to Cairo.

Still according to the paper, the reopening of the Pyramid of Unas is part of a package by the government that will open other archeological sites with the goal to encourage the country’s tourism, strongly impacted after the crash of a Russian airplane in 2015 in the Sinai and the EgyptAir flight.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani