Egypt’s oldest pyramid, the Pyramid of Djoser, in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara, is looking a little worse for the wear. After more than 4,600 years in the desert, some of the stones have eroded or fallen away, a rising water table has weakened the bedrock below the tombs, and a 1992 earthquake put the structure at risk. Unfortunately, the company hired to restore the ancient pyramid starting in 2006 may have made it worse.
Activist Amir Gamal of the “Non-Stop Robberies” movement told Egypt Independent that “New walls were built outside the pyramid as if the pyramid were a modern construction, which is opposite to international standards of restoration, which prevents adding more than 5% of construction to antiquities if necessary.” He continued to say that “Adding the modern construction is a large pressure on the decaying pyramid, which threatens catastrophe.”
Built in the 27th century B.C. for Pharaoh Djoser, the 200-foot-tall step pyramid was designed by one of the earliest known architect-engineers in history, Imhotep. It’s considered the earliest example of large-scale construction with cut stone in the world, a major deviation from the low, flat-roofed, mud-brick design of earlier Egyptian burial sites. Archeologists have criticized Egyptian authorities for choosing Shurbagy to oversee the restoration, as the company had not previously completed any restoration projects.