After millennia laying hidden, unseen by human eyes, archaeologists have unearthed the skeleton of a teenage girl next to an early Egyptian pyramid complex.
The discovery was made at the base of the pyramid at Meidum, an archaeological site around 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Cairo, just a short hop from the River Nile, according to an announcement this week by Eygpt’s Ministry of Antiquities. While there’s no evidence yet to suggest when she was buried, the pyramid that she was buried at the base of is estimated to be 4,600 years old, around the time the first pyramids were built in Egypt.
Based on a study of the bones, the archaeologists believe the remains belonged to a teenage female, perhaps around the age of 13 years old. A small wall of bricks surrounds the burial site, suggesting that it was once a cemetery. It’s currently a mystery who this teenager was, however, there are a few intriguing hints for the researcher to work with. The skeleton is laid alongside three small pots and a sealed papyrus, which the archaeologists are currently attempting to decipher.
Curiously, the grave also continues the skulls of two bulls. Again, it’s unknown why exactly the skulls are found here, but the figure of the bull does frequently appear in Ancient Egyptian mythology. Apis, for example, was a deity that was often depicted as a bull to represent strength and fertility. This alone is not much to go on, but usually people who were buried alongside such possessions, and in such a prominent location, likely had a respected or privileged social status.
Construction of the pyramid at Meidum is believed have been started under Huni, the last pharaoh of the Third Dynasty, whose reign ended around 2600 BCE, but it was completed under his successor Sneferu. As you can see in the images, the structure is not your typical pyramid. In fact, it barely resembles a pyramid at all after centuries of ruin, so it’s often referred to as an "el-haram el-kaddab," which means "False Pyramid" in Arabic.
It’s thought to have started as a step pyramid, like many of the earliest Egyptian pyramids, but was then converted into a true pyramid. There are numerous theories about why they changed plans half-way through construction, however, according to Live Science, some suggest this pyramid shows one of the Egyptians' first attempts to make a true pyramid using trial and error. This is quite remarkable considering that Sneferu's successor, Khufu, is widely credited to have commissioned the Great Pyramid of Giza, the colossal monument that stood as the tallest human-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.