|Clichés Soknopaiou Nesos Project, University of Salento|
"The place that went viral last month as the potential site of a mysterious Egyptian pyramid looks more like a series of mounds on the surface of Mars when you see it up close. Three weeks after the Dimai archaeological site burst into the spotlight, it's become a lot less mysterious — but there are still secrets to uncover.
The site has been familiar to Egyptologists since the 1920s: It's thought to have been the locale for a desert settlement going back to Egypt's Ptolemaic era, when Greek and Roman influences were on the ascendance. Did these mounds serve as watchtowers, or tombs, or well sites? That's what the Soknopaiou Nesos Project wants to find out. One of the project's directors, Egyptologist Paola Davoli of Italy's University of Salento in Lecce, filled me in about the current state of her group's research last week.
"For sure they are not pyramids, but their date and use are still not known," she told me in an email.
Since last week's exchange, Davoli has sent me these pictures of the site, taken during a 2006 survey.
Davoli has also been in touch with Angela Micol, the North Carolina researcher who turned the spotlight on Dimai last month via her Google Earth Anomalies website. Based on the satellite imagery, Micol suggested that the mounds might represent eroded pyramids. The up-close pictures make the formations look more like piles of rocky rubble. The largest one appears to have the ruins of a square building or walls on its summit, but it'll take a full-blown excavation to unravel the mystery."
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