A long-lost relic from the Great Pyramid of Giza has been uncovered by accident, stashed in a cigar box at a Scottish university.
Inside the box was fragments of cedar wood dating back 5,000 years. The discovery is one of only three artefacts ever recovered from inside the Great Pyramid – the oldest monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The three artefacts were discovered inside the Pyramids Queen’s Chamber by engineer Waynman Dixon in 1872.
Now known as the ‘Dixon’s Relics’ the trio of relics included a ball and a hook which are now housed at the British Museum, however the third item remained missing for more than a century until it was uncovered by chance by an archaeologist.
‘Hidden in plain site’
Abeer Eladany was curating artefacts in the University of Aberdeen’s museum when she came across a cigar box decorated with Egyptian symbols and marked with a serial number no longer used by the museum.
She instantly knew she had found something special and began to investigate.
“Once I looked into the numbers in our Egypt records, I instantly knew what it was, and that it had effectively been hidden in plain sight in the wrong collection,” Ms Eladany said.
“I was absolutely happy to see it and I knew it would be a really important object.”
Following Grant’s death in 1895, his collections were bequeathed to the University, while the ‘five inch piece of cedar’ was donated by his daughter in 1946, the university said in a release.
However it was never classified and despite an extensive search, could not be located, the school added.
The item was rediscovered late last year but carbon dating the wood was delayed by coronavirus and only able to be completed recently, placing the objects at somewhere between 3341 and 3094 BC, about 500 years earlier than historical records that date the Pyramid to the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu.
“I’m an archaeologist and have worked on digs in Egypt but I never imagined it would be here in north-east Scotland that I’d find something so important to the heritage of my own country,” Ms Eladany said.
The university said the cedar fragments originally belonged to a much larger piece of wood, which was last seen in a 1993 exploration of the interior of the Pyramid by a robotic camera in hidden and now unreachable voids.
“It may be just a small fragment of wood, which is now in several pieces, but it is hugely significant given that it is one of only three items ever to be recovered from inside the Great Pyramid,” Ms Eladany said.
It’s hoped the discovery will reignite interest in the Dixon Relics and how they can shed light on the Great Pyramid.
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