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Dating back centuries, Algeria's pyramid tombs are unique relics of an ancient era but a dearth of research has left the Jeddars shrouded in mystery. The 13 monuments, whose square stone bases are topped with angular mounds, are perched on a pair of hills near the city of Tiaret, some 250 kilometers southwest of Algiers.Algerian archaeologist Rachid Mahouz, who has spent five years on a doctoral thesis about the tombs, deplores the lack of research devoted to the country's "wonders".Archaeology was not taught at Algerian universities until the early 1980s, and until now, no specialty on funerary monuments is offered.The monuments show the evolution of burial practices in the area -- from simple mounds of earth and stone, known as tumuli, to stone-walled tombs called bazinas.Understanding of the Jeddars was boosted in the late 1960s by Algerian archaeologist Fatima Kadra's three-year study of Jeddars A, B and C -- the oldest of the 13 and the only ones to be explored since Algeria's independence.
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