Egypt Closes Great Pyramid Amid 11/11/11 Secret 'Ritual' Rumors

Egypt's antiquities authority closed the largest of the Giza pyramids Friday following rumors that groups would try to hold spiritual ceremonies on the site at 11:11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2011.

The authority's head, Mustafa Amin, said in a statement Friday that the pyramid of Khufu, also known as Cheops, would be closed to visitors until Saturday morning for "necessary maintenance."

The rumors sparked an Internet campaign to stop any ceremonies.

Indian-British novelist Salman Rushdie tweeted, "11.11.11 nothing unusual so far. And please don't invite me to take part in any ceremonial dances or strange rituals at the Great Pyramid."

However, the head of Egypt's antiquities authority said the pyramid had been closed until Saturday morning for "necessary maintenance" only.

The Great Pyramid houses the ancient tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu. Two nearby pyramids and the Sphinx remained open.

Security was tightened across the entire complex, The Associated Press reported, with dozens of police officers and armed soldiers on patrol.

After 11:11 a.m., the director of the pyramids complex, Ali al-Asfar, said nothing unusual had happened. "Everything is normal," he told the AP. "The only thing different is the closure of the Khufu pyramid."

Both al-Asfar and the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mustafa Amin, said the pyramid was closed for maintenance after the large number of visitors during the Eid al-Adha holiday last week.

Reports of planned ceremonies at the site were "completely lacking in truth," Amin said.

But the rumors had sparked an Internet protest campaign to block any rituals "within the walls of the pyramid on November 11, 2011," Atef Abu Zahab, the head of the Department of Pharaonic Archaeology, told AFP news agency.

The pyramid is the biggest and most famous of the Giza monuments and is the last of the seven wonders of the ancient world still standing.

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