The Dahshur necropolis, located less than an hour from central Cairo, is where ancient Egyptians built their first pyramids to bury their kings.
These days, a different kind of burial ground is being constructed on the archaeological site, and Egyptian authorities are concerned.
In January, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities reported that area residents had forcibly encroached on archaeological land in the Dahshur area in order to build tombs.
Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said government authorities will soon begin to execute special removal orders against these encroachments.
The government is in the process of demarcating another area of Dahshur, far from the archaeological site, to be used as a cemetery for the people of the area, he said.
"Residents seized land by force to build tombs on, threatening the special guard with weapons," said Nasser Ramadan, director general of the Dahshur archaeological site.
The antiquities are in serious danger of being destroyed or looted, he told Al-Shorfa.
"In recent times, many antiquities thieves carried out [illegal] digs in search of pharaonic antiquities to sell on the black market," he said.
Ramadan said the problem stems from the lack of security that followed the January 25th Revolution, and that the solution lies in the return of security authorities in force to the area.
The Dahshur archaeological site sits near the ancient valley temple of Sneferu, the first pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, and father of the famous king Khufu, who ruled in 26th century B.C.E.
Dahshur is one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage site list since 1979. Sneferu built two of his three temples on the site -- the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid. The latter was the first "true" smooth-sided pyramid in Egypt and at the time of its completion was the tallest man-made structure in the world.
In the Middle Kingdom, the 12th Dynasty kings Amenemhat II, Senusret III and Amenemhat III built their pyramids at the site.
Jewellery belonging to Middle Kingdom princesses was found in those pyramids, and in February 2009, an expedition found coffins and wooden statues from the Ramesside period in Dahshur.
Although Dahshur holds a large number of antiquities, it has not yet been fully developed as a commercial tourist destination, as is the case with the Giza necropolis, which teems with bazaars and tourist restaurants that cater to visitors.
"The protection of Egyptian antiquities issue slid significantly on the Egyptian government's agenda in the past two years," said Niveen Aref, who writes about Egyptian antiquities.
Many institutions and archaeological sites have been ravaged by theft or fire, she told Al-Shorfa, and thousands of rare documents were destroyed when the Egyptian Scientific Institute was set on fire on December 17th, 2011.
"Egyptian law includes provisions that impose prison terms on those who encroach on archaeological sites, but they need to be activated and strictly enforced by executive authorities in conjunction with a popular campaign to urge citizens to preserve their history," Aref said.
Maher Mahmoud, 30, told Al-Shorfa local residents have been asking the government to allocate land for a cemetery in Dahshur for years, but it has yet to respond.
After the revolution, some families began to build tombs on land adjacent to the site, he said.
"All we want is [for the government] to allocate a large tract of land for us to build tombs on," he said, adding, "This is a matter of great importance to us."
Hassan Mohammed, 48, who lives in a farm community adjacent to the site, said residents submitted a request to Giza province four years ago asking that land be allocated for tomb building, but the demand has not yet been answered.
"In October of last year, some began to build foundations for tombs and clashed with the guards at the archaeological sites," he said. "However, the necessary measures have yet to be taken, whether establishing security at the site or opening a dialogue with the area residents."