Saqqara

Giza, Egypt

Photo Credit: Muhammad Korayem

This modest hut was established for Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Police in Saqqara – a vast, ancient burial ground home to numerous pyramids, which have been targeted by looters since their erection. While the huts are a newer method of stopping potential thieves, the ancient Egyptians had their own methods of protection.

The first attempt was of trying to confuse the looters. For instance, the Step Pyramid of Dojoser was part of a large 40-acre complex containing a courtyard, temples, and chapels, all enclosed inside a 30-foot wall. 14 doors were built into the wall – only one lead inside, the other 13 were fakes meant to send looters in circles. This trickery was not super effective, so the Egyptians tried a new method with The Great Pyramid of Giza.

This time around, the Egyptians placed massive stone blocks in the ceiling of the pyramid and guided by grooves carved into the walls. When the Pharaoh was finally placed inside the tomb, these massive blocks were dropped down into place, sealing off the tunnel. You would think that this, combined with winding, maze-like tunnels, would make it almost impossible to loot, but the thieves eventually made their way inside.

Despite this, archaeologists believe that understanding these security systems might lead them to find previously undiscovered chambers inside the pyramid. In fact, some researchers, like Zahi Hawass – Egypt’s former antiquities minister – think the actual tomb of Khufu’s in the Great Pyramid is still hidden, and all previously found tombs and tunnels are merely false paths meant to trick would-be thieves.

Anyone up for a treasure hunt?

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