Egypt’s second largest pyramid and several ornate ancient tombs have been reopened to visitors for the first time in three years today following a painstaking restoration process.
Egypt’s antiquities authorities held a news conference near the 4th Dynasty Chefren pyramid, distinctive for its limestone cap.
The Pharaoh Chefren was the son of Cheops, builder of the great pyramid, and the tombs newly reopened today belonged to high state officials and relatives of the royal family.
Egypt’s tourism industry, a major source of income, has been hard hit by instability that has wracked the country in the aftermath of the uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said today that the opening of the restored sites should demonstrate to the world that Egypt is a safe destination for tourists.
Ibrahim said that a number of important sites were being unveiled to the public at long last.
“First of all, we are celebrating the opening of the second pyramid for the first visitors after the restoration that has been taken to prepare it, to light it for the visitors. Secondly, we are opening today for the first time, six tombs, six private tombs. One in the Eastern cemetery and five in the Western one. These private tombs are very important because it reflects, it shows how the ancient civilization is big, is important. The tombs are very unique, either from the historical point of view or the artistic value of the scenes represented on the walls,” he said.
The Minister also said that the long-standing threat to antiquities sites on the Giza plateau had finally been resolved.
“The third event is to announce officially the finishing of a great project to minimize, or to control the underwater, the underground water, especially in front of the sphinx and the valley temple of Chafra,” he said.
Along with the reopening of the Chafra pyramid, which was given a new entrance, the antiquities authorities also announced the opening of six tombs in the Giza necropolis.
Five of those tombs are located in the western graveyard and one in the east.
Amongst the tombs reopened in the western graveyard are that of the keeper of royal documents and supervisor of priests, Ka Am Ankh, as well as that of the princess Nen Seger Ka, priestess of the goddess Hathor.
But the centerpiece of the newly renovated tombs was that of Meresankh III, located in the Eastern cemetery.
The vividly decorated tomb of Chefren’s wife, features elaborate wall paintings and hieroglyphs as well as statues of the Merankh and her mother, as well as her ladies in waiting.
The tomb now features new lighting and information signs as well as a wood paneling to protect the original tomb floor.
The restoration of the tombs also included newly paved walkways as well as lighting to illuminate the tombs after dark.
Egypt’s antiquities authorities are hoping that the new coat of polish given to just a few of the ancient wonders of the Giza plateau will go some way towards bringing back the tourists so vital to Egypt’s put-upon economy.