Cairo — Archaeologists have launched a huge project to restore the smallest of Giza’s three famous pyramids to what they believe it looked like when it was built more than 4,000 years ago. An Egyptian-Japanese archaeological mission announced the project to put back in place hundreds of granite blocks that used to form the outer casing of the pyramid of King Menkaure, the smallest of the three main pyramids on the iconic Giza Necropolis.
Dr. Mostafa Waziry, Secretary-General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a video statement that it would be the “project of the century,” calling it “Egypt’s gift to the world in the 21st century.”
Waziry said there were about 124 pyramids in Egypt, and the only one known to have been built with an outer shell of granite blocks was the one constructed for King Menkaure around 2,150 BC. He said that while only the bottom five to eight rows of blocks remain in place, there were originally 16 to 18 rows of the huge pieces of granite covering the sides of the pyramid.
It’s not known when or how the blocks fell. Some experts believe they toppled about 800 years ago — but they are still there, some of them buried or partially buried, all around the base of the pyramid.