Ancient Egypt: Cursed Tomb of Men Who Built Giza Pyramid Reopened After 30 Years

Giza Pyramid
Giza Pyramid complex. Ricardo Liberato/CC

Archaeologists in Egypt have reopened a so-called cursed tomb containing the remains of the people who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. This is the first time it has been opened since its discovery almost 30 years ago.

The pyramid dates back 4,500 years and is located in the "tribal mountain" area, near the Pyramid of Giza. It contains a cemetery of workers along with the graves of three important people—the supervisor of the royal palace, the supervisor of the construction workers and a man of significance who was buried with the workers.

Archaeologists working with the Ministry of Antiquities believe the man who supervised the workers filled the cemetery with curses. This was to protect the dead from thieves.

The tomb of the royal palace supervisor, known as Nefer Theth, was well preserved and was found to have two fake doors and inscriptions along the walls.

The site has been closed off since 1990. In recent years, experts with the ministry have been working to restore and develop the site as part of a longer-term plan to open up more archaeological sites to the public.

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The reopened tomb at Giza. Ministry of Antiquities

As well as opening up the three tombs, Ashraf Mohi, director general of the effects of the Pyramids of Giza, said two other tombs discovered in the same cemetery have been reopened—including the tomb of Khufu Khaf, the son of King Khufu, who ruled between 2589–2566 B.C.

The other tomb is Seshem Nefer 4, which dates to the Sixth Dynasty, around 2340 B.C. This grave includes images of the cemetery owner with his family, bulls being slaughtered and birds and animals being hunted.

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built during the Fourth Dynasty between 2580 and 2560 B.C. It is the oldest and largest of three pyramids at the complex. This site includes the Great Sphinx sculpture, several cemeteries, an industrial complex and a workers' village.

Construction of the pyramids is thought to have involved several thousand skilled and unskilled workers. Despite being one of the most widely recognized wonders of the world, experts still do not know how the pyramids at the site were constructed. One of the most popular hypotheses of how they got the stones to the site is that they were dragged over wet sand. How the workers planned and executed the construction remains one of the biggest mysteries in archaeology.