One of the iconic three pyramids of Giza, Khafre, was reopened last Wednesday following an international press conference which was attended by the Belgian and Canadian ambassadors among others and the curators of several antiquities institutes in Cairo.
The pyramid is now ready to receive visitors after a three year closure for periodical maintenance. Six tombs were also opened amid much excitement and anticipation. The tombs are of six important ‘state men’ (and one woman) of the old kingdom, who held important public positions in ancient Egypt’s system of governance.
The opening comes at a time where Egypt’s tourism industry is failing to attract the revenue Egyptians have come to expect and depend on. The pyramids still represent Egypt’s most famous landmarks by far and are a lifeline to its tourism industry.
The pyramid has new electricity, ventilation, and moisture systems installed as well as new signs and walkways inside to guide tourists carefully around the ancient tomb that can be a labyrinth at times.
The six tombs that were reopened were those of Ka Am Ankh, an important public official who was in charge of the secrets of royal documents and was supervisor over treasures and priests, Ya San, who was an inspector of gardens and oversaw priests, Ka Hef who was the king’s psalmist and Meres Ankh III, who was the granddaughter of Khufu and the wife of Khafre.
Meres Ankh’s tomb is said to be the most beautiful of the six and includes a unique statue of Meres Ankh with her mother and others who could possibly be the women of her house.
The tombs are located in the eastern cemetery and underwent extensive renovations. The renovations are part of a larger plan by the ministry of antiquities to make as many touristic sites as possible available to local and international tourists as Egypt marks the beginning of its normally busy winter tourism season.
There was no word on whether the reopening of these archeological sites was affected by the January 2011 uprising, or if originally there was a different opening date. The Giza pyramids complex has been the site of many ambitious state projects, from Sadat and Mubarak to Morsy.
One such project, the subject of much cynicism, has been the ministry’s attempt to restore or regain Egypt’s antiquities, currently outside the country illegally. One of the most important plans that the ministry has announced will be the restoration of the Sakkara pyramid.