Harbors Discovered near Pyramids `It Changes History,' Says Antiquities Chief

Article excerpt

Construction workers digging in a neighborhood near the Sphinx have found the remains of an ancient harbor where men and stones were ferried in to build the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Cheops.

"It changes history, everything we've ever believed. It's a wonderful discovery," said Zahi Hawass, antiquities director of the pyramids area and Sphinx.

Archaeologists long have assumed that a harbor would have been essential for the pyramid builders to have transported massive building blocks and finer stones to Giza Plateau. Granite arrived on Nile River barges after 440-mile journeys northward from Aswan's royal quarries.

It was believed that one large harbor serviced the plateau, crowned by the three Giza Pyramids and at least eight smaller pyramids. That is the account in history books and sketches of the sites.

In 1978 geologists located a possible harbor at the foot of the plateau in front of the Sphinx. The latest discovery, made in February, indicates the three main pyramids each had separate harbors, a big surprise for Hawass and other Egyptologists.

The large pyramids honored pharaohs Cheops, his son Chephren and grandson Mycerinus. Egyptologists believe the pyramids were built simultaneously over a 70-year period, beginning about 2551 B.C. Separate harbors meant work could be channeled to each pyramid, making construction far more efficient and coordinated than previously believed.

Hundreds of thousands of stones, most weighing 2 1/2 tons but some as much as 400 tons, went into building the pyramids, the Sphinx, tombs, temples and other structures at the plateau.

The new find is a section of huge blocks that form a wall 231 feet long and 10 feet wide, the style "absolutely from Cheops' time," Hawass said Saturday. …