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Rare stone from Great Pyramid to go on display at museum

UK News | Published:

The piece was brought to the UK by Charles Piazzi Smyth in 1872.

Casing stone

A rare casing stone from the Great Pyramid of Giza is to go on display in the UK next month.

The ancient block will be exhibited at the National Museum of Scotland, going on public view for the first time since it came to Edinburgh in 1872.

It was announced on the bicentenary of the birth of the man who arranged for it to be brought to the UK, Charles Piazzi Smyth.

The large block of fine white limestone is one of the few surviving casing stones from the Great Pyramid.

A casing stone from the Great Pyramid of Giza
The stone would have appeared on the pyramid’s surface (National Museum of Scotland/PA)

They formed the outer surface of the pyramids and are identifiable by their sloped, triangular face.

The stone will form the centrepiece of the museum’s new gallery Ancient Egypt Rediscovered from February 8.

Built for King Khufu and dating to 2589–2566 BC, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex.

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It was clad in bright white, polished limestone brought from a quarry at Tura, more than nine miles down the Nile.

Casing stones
The casing stones originally covered the Great Pyramid of Giza (National Museums Scotland/PA)

Astronomer Royal of Scotland Charles Piazzi Smyth, alongside his geologist wife Jessie, conducted the first largely accurate survey of the Great Pyramid in 1865 and originally displayed the block in their Edinburgh home.

Dr Margaret Maitland, a senior curator at National Museums Scotland, said: “We are very excited to be able to offer our visitors the chance to see the only casing stone from the Great Pyramid on display anywhere outside of Egypt.

“One of the seven wonders of the world, many people don’t know that the Great Pyramid would have appeared very different when it was first constructed, thanks to a pristine cladding of polished white limestone.

“This casing stone will give visitors to the National Museum a fascinating insight into how one of the most iconic buildings on the planet would have once looked.”

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