Past Press Releases

CONTENTS: Opening of the Great Pyramid \ Other Sites that Will be Opened to the Public \ The Osiris Shaft \ The Discovery of the Valley of the Mummies \ Upcoming Lectures

JUNE 1999 -
Opening of Pyramid Khufu, Three New Tombs and the Temple of the Sphinx

I. Opening of the Great Pyramid of Khufu

His Excellency Mr. Farouk Hosni, Minister of Culture, and Professor Dr. Gaballa A. Gaballa, General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities,  attended on Thursday, June 3, the opening of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, three tombs located south of the pyramid, and the Temple of the Sphinx. The sites were open as the Ministry of Culture prepares for the celebration of the new millenium.

A press conference regarding the opening was held inside the Boat Museum at Giza on Thursday, June 6, at 12:00pm.

Read about this restoration HERE.


II. Other Sites Now Opened to The Public

A) The Sphinx Temple

The Sphinx Temple is unique because of its special features connected to the sun. It is the oldest sun-temple in existence. This temple has a niche on the eastern side, for the ritual of the rising sun, and another niche on the western side for the ritual of the setting sun. The 24 pillars inside the temple represent the 12 hours of the day and the 12 hours of the night.

The temple was uncovered at the beginning of this century, with large boulders thrown both inside and outside the temple. The Antiquities Department of

Giza moved these 2-ton and 8-ton rocks and placed them in their appropriate locations with respect to the temple's original plans.

Cracks in the walls of the temple have been restored with mortar consisting of lime and sand.

B) Newly Opened Tombs

We chose three new tombs to restore. The restoration involved making new ceiling and roofs for the structures, removing graffiti left by visitors, and restoring the inscriptions and paintings on the walls.

1. Seshem-Nefer

Seshem-Nefer was the overseer of the two seats of the House of Life. He was also guardian of the king's secrets. The tomb is dated to the end of the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. It is located to the southeast of the Great Pyramid, and it is one of the largest tombs at Giza. It is very special because contains both fimerary scenes and depictions of daily life. Of the loveliest scenes is a depiction of the offering bearers and a scene of the deceased and his wife hunting in a marsh. The entrance to the tomb is flanked by two statues of the deceased.

2. Nefer-Maat

Nefer-Maat held many important titles such as "Son of the King", "Crowned Prince", "Overlord of Nekheb", "Vizier of King Khafre", and he was a member of the royal family of the Fourth Dynasty. His tomb is located to the south of the Great Pyramid. Its walls are decorated with scenes of the deceased and his wife in front of the scribes and offering bearers. Another unique scene shows the deceased seated in front of an offering table; under his chair is his favorite dog.

3. Senefru-Kha-ef

Senefru-Kha-ef was Treasurer of the King of Lower Egypt and the Herdsman of Apis. His tomb is dated to the end of the Fourth Dynasty and the beginning of the Fifth Dynasty. Inside the tomb was found a beautiful limestone sarcophagus that has since been removed and placed in the Egyptian Museum. The tomb contains typical family scenes of the deceased and his children.

Preparation of these tombs for public visitation required two important steps:

1 . Architectural restoration: stones were added to the fagades and walls of the tombs where needed, and ceilings were constructed for the tombs. New doors have also been made for all of the tombs. Some of the structural damage to the tombs was repaired. Electricity and lighting were properly installed so as not to disturb paintings and inscriptions.

2. Technical restoration: salt was removed from the structures where necessary, and paintings and inscriptions on the walls were conserved.

Read about other recent tomb openings

III. Upcoming Lectures

1. From the beginning of August I will teach a summer course on pyramids at UCLA.

2. On August 21 I will give a talk at the Cayce Foundation on my discoveries at Giza. I hope that after all these lectures and TV appearances that people can understand that what Cayce said about ancient Egypt is a myth. The Arabs from the 9th century talked about this legend and psychics like Cayce and others have brought this myth back. I found that the public need to hear the evidence that we discovered, and all the archaeological records as an answer to the question of who built the pyramids.

3. There are other lectures that I will give in December at the National Geographic in Washington, DC, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.


Dr. Zahi Hawass Director of the Giza Pyramids and Saqqara


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Past Press Releases:
Opening of tombs and Queen's Pyramids in Giza (2/98)

World Celebrates Successful Restoration of the Sphinx(5/98)

Dr. Hawass Promoted (7/98)

Horse and Camel Stable at Giza/Restoration of Great Pyramid (11/98)

The Great Pyramid, Sphinx Temple, Recent Lectures and more (4/99)