One of Egypt's oldest pyramids reopens after 20 years

One of Egypt's oldest pyramids reopens after 20 years
In an attempt to revive its dwindling tourism industry, Egypt is opening up more ancient sites, which were once off-limits to visitors and locals.
2 min read
27 May, 2016
The Saqqara necropolis, located near the Egyptian town of Mit Rahina [Corbis]
The Pyramid of King Unas - the final resting place of an Egyptian pharoh from the 24th century BC - was reopened on Thursday after being closed for two decades.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany inaugurated the opening of the structure which commemorated with a candlelit vigil, Egypt's state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported.

The structure is located within the Saqqara necropolis, a vast burial ground in the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

Having been constructed with a rubble core - rather than stone layers like later pyramids - the Pyramid of Unas collapsed in the period of antiquity. 

On the southern side of the pyramid is an inscription left by Prince Khaemwase, a son of Ramses II. He was also known as Ramses the Great for having been one of the most renowned monarchs of the Egyptian empire.

This inscription was left to mark the restoration work that was carried out by the prince during the 19th dynasty.

French Egyptologist were the first to enter the pyramid in the modern age, over 130 years ago.

Access was later barred when the pyramid closed in 1996, due to the high-humidity levels that were damaging the burial chamber.

State-of-the-art technology was installed within the burial chamber to monitor and control humidity levels. A new lighting system was also set up within the ancient structure.

Pyramid of Unas
The Pyramid of Unas collapsed in due to its rubble core [Getty]

Reviving tourism

The Egyptian antiquities minister explained that this opening was part of a plan to open more archaeological sites in order which he hoped will boost Egypt's long-suffering tourism industry.

The once-thriving sector has taken a number of hits in the last 12 months. That includes the disappearance of EgyptAir flight MS804 and two other aviation disasters.

Adding to anxieties about travel to Egypt are March's bomb attacks in Cairo, an airstrike that mistakenly killed a tourist party, and the horrific mutilation and murder of an Italian student in February.