Zakaria Goneim

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Muhammed Zakaria Goneim (زكريا غنيم)(alt. spelling: Muhammad Zakarīya Ghunaim, 1905 — 1959) was an Egyptian archaeologist, known for his discoveries in and around Saqqara. He is best known for discovering the Step pyramid of Sekhemkhet.

Before World War II, Goneim worked at Saqqara (on temple on Unas). He spent the war in Luxor and then returned to Saqarra to work on the Step Pyramid of Sekhemkhet in close association with Lauer who was working on the Step Pyramid of Djoser.

He thought he had found an intact burial, as the seals of the alabaster sarcophagus were undamaged, and funerary wreaths lay atop the sarcophagus. There was tremendous media attention, and he invited high state officials, journalists, reporters and film teams to the opening. But on opening the sarcophagus, it proved to be empty. "They dig for three years and find nothing," one newspaper reported. There was consequent popular disappointment, although the discovery was still an important one for Egyptology. The Egyptian President Nasser visited the site, and commended Goneim for his work.

After this he went on a lecture tour of the USA. He also wrote a book, The buried pyramid, with the aid of Leonard Cottrell, in order to publicise the work further. The book was a success, and was translated into several languages.

But he was already in trouble at home, where official harassment had begun. He was eventually falsely accused of smuggling a large, valuable vessel that Quibell and Lauer had...
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