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28 August 2016
Bronze Age mausoleum unearthed in Kazakhstan

The discovery of a 3,000-year-old pyramid-shaped mausoleum in northern Kazakhstan has gone viral, with several media outlets proclaiming the structure to be the world's first pyramid. Archaeologists say the structure, which contains a series of five walls that gradually get higher toward the centre, is not nearly as old as these news reports claim.
     The mausoleum is 2 meters high and about 15 metres square.
     Viktor Novozhenov, an archaeologist with the Saryarka Archaeological Institute at Karaganda State University in Kazakhstan who helped excavate the mausoleum says: "It's made from stone, earth and fortified by slabs in the outer side."
     While the exact age of the structure is uncertain, it likely was built during the late Bronze Age, more than 3,000 years ago - more than 1,000 years after the Egyptians built the step pyramid of Djoser.
     Although the mausoleum's burial chamber had been robbed, nearby graves contained the remains of pottery, a knife, and bronze objects. Before the mausoleum was robbed, it would have held the burial of a clan leader.
     The design of the mausoleum, with its five ascending walls, is similar in some ways to the far larger and older step pyramid of Djoser, which has six layers forming a flat-topped pyramid.
     Novozhenov adds that a lot more work needs to be done. "We need a lot of additional analyses and hard work for interpretation." The excavation is being led by Igor Kukushkin, also from the Saryarka Archaeological Institute at Karaganda State University in Kazakhstan.

Edited from Archaeology Magazine, Live Science (17 August 2016), Archaeology Magazine (18 August 2016)

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