By RANY MOSTAFA
CAIRO: Renovation work at the Sakkara Step Pyramid must be completed as soon as possible, according to Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty.
During a visit Thursday, Damaty inspected ongoing renovations at the rock core body of the step pyramid’s exterior along with the process of consolidating its underground corridors leading to the burial chamber.
“The latest restoration techniques have been used in the interior of the step pyramid but since the exterior has to be entirely authentic, a blend of a strong mortar, made from components similar to those used by ancient Egyptians, was used to hold thousands of stones together,” Damaty said.
He also inspected restoration work on the wall decorations and the natural ventilation inside the pyramid and the southern tomb and said the renovation is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
“[Sakkara] is not just the oldest pyramid in Egypt, it is the most ancient surviving stone structure in the history of mankind; it is not just an Egyptian heritage but rather of the world,” Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Amin told The Cairo Post.
The step pyramid, a world-heritage site listed by UNESCO, was built in the 26th century B.C. to house the mummy of Pharaoh Djoser, the founder of the third Dynasty, Amin said. It is composed of six successively smaller mastabas (rectangular stone structures), one on top of the other.
The structure of the step pyramid is attributed to Imhoptep, the Pharaoh’s vizier and a genius architect who used over 4 million cubic meters of stone and clay.
The pyramid was badly damaged in the 1992 earthquake, which caused severe damage to the walls of its burial chamber and the descending passages leading to it, Amin said, in addition to the collapse of a huge chunk of the pyramid’s southern side.
The step pyramid, located 26 km south of the Giza Pyramids, is a part of Djoser’s mortuary complex, which houses his mummification temple along with a huge wooden solar barge that was found in the 1920s in a pit south of the pyramid.