A new pyramid has been discovered deep beneath Egyptian sands, archaeologists announced. The 4,300-year-old monument is believed to be the tomb of Queen Sesheshet, the mother of Pharaoh Teti, the founder ancient Egypt's 6th dynasty. Once nearly five stories tall, the pyramid—or at least what remains of it—lay beneath 23 feet (7 meters) of sand as well as a small shrine and mud-brick walls from later periods. The discovery is the third known "subsidiary" pyramid to the tomb of Teti. It's also the second pyramid discovered this year in Saqqara, an ancient royal burial complex near current-day Cairo. "I always say you never know what the sands of Egypt might hide," said Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). "This might be the most complete subsidiary pyramid ever found at Saqqara," added Hawass, who is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. Surprise in the Sand Archaeologists found remnants of a white limestone casing for the surviving, 16-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) pyramid base. The angle of the base helped them determine that the pyramid's walls stood at a 51-degree angle. Based on that angle, the team determined that the pyramid was originally 46 feet (14 meters) tall and about 72 feet (22 meters) square at its base. The researchers were somewhat surprised to find a pyramid here, since they thought the area had been exhausted.
Archaeologists had already found subsidiary pyramids for Teti's two principal wives Iput I and Khuit, a hundred years ago and in 1994, respectively. Teams have been digging in the area for more than 20 years. "One hundred years ago they used to take sand and put it in unexcavated areas," Hawass said. "The archaeologists in the past used this area as a location for the sand.