National Geographic : 1955 Nov
640 Rolling Back the Desert, Diggers Open the Newly Discovered Step Pyramid at Saqqara Built block on block so that the sides rose in giant stairs, the step pyramids preceded the Bent Pyramid (second from right) and true pyramid (right). This buried monument is believed to have belonged to King Sekhemkhet. It was found in 1952 by Zakaria Ghoneim of the Egyptian Department of Antiquities. His ex cavations yielded gold jewelry, alabaster dishes, ivory tablet, tweezers, and ritual sarcophagus (pages 626, 642). In 1924 the famous archeologist Gustave Jequier tried for a short time to excavate around the Bent Pyramid, but the work was left unfinished. He investigated the causeway and established the existence of some sur rounding walls. Jequier also noted several slight elevations which, he felt, might con ceal the remains of buildings. In 1945 the Department of Antiquities be gan a new study of the area, confining its work to the interior of the Bent Pyramid (page 644). This effort had an important result: discovery of Snefru's name on some stone blocks, establishing the pyramid as his. It also threw new light on why the pyramid was "bent." Apparently the builders planned too steep an angle at first. Partway through the under taking the chief architect discovered that the interior would not support the weight of so high a true pyramid and changed the slope of the sides to give a lower silhouette. My friend Ahmed Fakhry began his in vestigations in a different direction. His plan was to work outside the pyramid, searching for the various temples which he was sure must have existed. In 1951 he excavated to the east of the Bent Pyramid and found near it a funerary temple. Altars were still standing in the shrine. Charcoal remained in a vase on one altar. It was perhaps left behind by the last priest as he burned incense in the name of the ancient gods for the soul of the pharaoh.