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Egypt: Historical Pharaonic Egyptian Sites - Pharonic Pyramids


Historical Egyptian Sites - Pharonic Pyramids


For additional comprehensive information on pyramids, see our pyramid section. We also have a section on temples (and list), but mortuary and valley temples associated with pyramids are covered in our sections on pyramids. Pyramids are also considered tombs, but we have a separate section for normal tombs. Finally, we also have a list of other monuments not specific to pyramids, temples or tombs. Also, see:Monuments in Egypt

Ahmose Pyramid at Abydos Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The ruins of Ahmose at Abydos are extensive, not only consisting of a pyramid and mortuary complex, but also the town of the workers who built and later managed the facilities. The mortuary temple that is recognizable as such lies somewhat north of the pyramid. This structure appears for the most part to be the outer section of the temple, with a plan consisting of a massive wall on the east and a central doorway that lead to a forecourt. From the forecourt, a doorway leads to a square court. Foundation blocks at the back might have supported the pillars of a colonade. However, between this section of the temple and the pyramid itself are what probably remains of an inner court where little was found except patches of pavement and four circular granaries along the back wall. Mace also discovered a semi-circular mudbrick deposit that may have either been the remains of a ramp, or the inner sanctuary of the temple.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet I at Lisht Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

Amenemhet I, who founded Egypt's 12th Dynasty, was most likely the first ruler of the Middle Kingdom, after the First Intermediate Period, to build any sort of substantial pyramid. He did this at Lisht, near the Fayoum Oasis, which was growing in importance during this time. In fact, his pyramid named "Cult Places of Amenemhet's Appearance" most likely was built very near his new capital of Itj-towy. In addition, the old, important canal called Bahr el-Libeini may have run very close to the escarpment at the foot of Amenemhet I's pyramid, thus providing it with a harbor. Amenemhet I also established a new tradition. In the Old Kingdom, the name of the pyramid usually was inclusive of the associated structures, including the pyramid town that so often grew up around the pyramids.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet II at Dahshur Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

For some reason, Amenemhet II, the third King of Egypt's 12th Dynasty and Senusret I's successor, choose to build his pyramid at Dahshur, a lonely pyramid field that dates from the 4th Dynasty, rather than at Lisht where his two predecessors built theirs. Dahshur is an interesting field to explore, because it has only recently been open to the public and so far is not so very crowded with tourists. It has some interesting and otherwise fine (and large) examples of pyramids. This pyramid was most likely called "Amenemhet is well cared for", and is located east of the better known Red Pyramid, but is not nearly as well preserved as some others in the area. We call Amenemhet II's structure the White Pyramid, though it is certainly no longer white. It derived this name many years before when stone thieves stole the casing, leaving behind many limestone chips that made the pyramid at that time to appear white.

The Pyramid of Amenemhet III at Dahshur Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

Amenemhet III attempted to build his first pyramid at Dahshur, but it turned out to be a disaster. Even with the nearby Bent Pyramid as a reminder, Amenemhet III's architects built the his pyramid on unstable subsoil. The Bent Pyramid is built upon compacted gravel, while Amenemhet III's is built on hard clay. The builder's compounded this mistake by building the pyramid in one of the lowest locations of any pyramid in Egypt. It lies only 33 feet above sea level. Further problems arose from the shear number of corridors and chambers within the substructure, and the reliance that the builders placed on their ceilings which had no real stress relieving devices above the king's burial chamber. Early on ground water from the nearby Nile Valley seeped into the pyramid's substructure causing structural damage, causing menacing cracks to appear in the corridor and chamber walls soon after the pyramid was completed.

Amenemhet III's Pyramid at Hawara Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

Amenemhet III built his second pyramid closer to the area that he seemed to love, the Fayoum. It was not the only building he did there. He also built a temple in Kiman Faris (Faras) to the Fayoum's chief divintity, the crocodile god Sobek. Kiman Faris was known to the Greeks as Krokodilopolis, or more commonly, Crocodilopolis. Nearby close to the modern village of Biahmu, he also constructed two colossal 12 meter high quartzite statues with enormous bases. After the failure of his Dahshur Pyramid after almost 15 years worth of work, he more or less completely abandoned that pyramid and started completely over with a new pyramid located near the modern village of Hawara el-Makta, not far from Senusret II's pyramid at el-Lahun (Kahun). The pyramid lies on a long spit of low desert, and was built vary differently then his pyramid at Dahshur. The name of this pyramid has never been discovered for certain, but it might have been called "Amenemhet Lives"

The Pyramid of Ameny Kemau at Dahshur Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The American expedition in Dahshure, in 1957, discovered a small and heavily damaged pyramid located close to the southeast rim of ancient Lake Dahshure. Broken canopic jars from the site identified the owner as Ameny Kemau (Ameny-Qemau), a little known ruler form the 13th Dynasty during Egypt's Second Intermediate Period. In fact, we know so little about Ameny Kemau that we cannot really even place his order of rule, a not altogether uncommon situation in the intermediate periods. In 1968, Maragioglio and Rinaldi further investigated the structure and refined the pyramids ground plan. This pyramid that most visitors to Dahshure will never notice was originally about 50 meters tall (164 ft). While the superstructure is almost completely destroyed, the substructure is better known.

Ancient Pyramid Legends and Myths by Jimmy Dunn

Many of us are familiar with the modern legends surrounding the Egyptian Pyramids, particularly that of Khufu, known as the Great Pyramid and one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. However, many of the legends and even information that is still sometimes reported as factual comes from more ancient legends. Indeed from the writings of the famous Greek historian, Herodotus, we find a mixture of fact and folktale about the pyramids that live on today. He came to Egypt between 449 and 430 BC, when the hieroglyphic script was still read and pharaonic religion was still practiced, but still this was several thousand years after the construction of Khufu's temple.

The Construction of the Egyptian Pyramids by Tour Egypt Staff

Ever wonder how the Egypt pyramids were built? We have put together some general information on their construction.

The Pyramid of Djedefre at Abu Rawash Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

Djedefre, the 3rd ruler of Egypt's 4th Dynasty and the son of Khufu, for unknown reasons, abandoned the necropolis at Giza and built his pyramid at Abu Rawash. It was called "Djedefre's Starry Sky". This move is interesting, and it is often suggested that Djedefre had some sort of falling out with his family, or at least his brothers, for this location is an odd choice. His successor immediately returned to Giza. However, this conflict with his family is far from certain, and more recent evidence suggests that there were in fact no problems at all. Other than the ruins of Lepsius pyramid number one, Djedefre's pyramid is the northernmost of any pyramid in Egypt. Before Lepsius, Perring briefly investigated the ruins, concentrating on the substructure, and Petrie later examined the pyramid in the 1880s.

The Pyramid of Djedkare at South Saqqara Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The pyramid of Djedkare in South Saqqara was originally called, "Beautiful is Djedkare". Never let it be said that pharaohs had no ego. Today it is called Haram el-Shawaf, meaning the "Sentinel Pyramid", and was probably built under the supervision of Snedjemib, an overseer of works. It was investigated by Perring, and shortly afterwards by the Lepsius expedition. In 1880, Maspero entered the substructure to look for pyramid texts. No systematic investigation of the pyramid was begun until the 20th century, when Abdel Salam Hussain and Alexandre Varille examined it, but unfortunately their work was interrupted an their work research lost. It seems just about the same thing happened when Fakhry investigated it during the 1950s. It was further investigated by Mahmud Abdel Razek in the 1980s but at this point damage has made it difficult to excavate. The valley temple has never been researched at all.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara in Egypt, An Introduction Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The Great Step Pyramid Complex at Saqqara, known to the ancient Egyptians as kbhw-ntrw (libation of the deities), is one of those superstars of Egyptian monuments that is almost always on the itinerary of antiquity tours to Egypt, and for good reason. Few monuments hold a place in human history as significant as that of this Pyramid. It can be said without exaggeration that the Step Pyramid complex constitutes a milestone in the evolution of monumental stone architecture, both in Egypt and in the world as a whole. It is the beginning of an evolutionary period that would eventually see the polished, smooth faced true pyramids of the 4th Dynasty master builders.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara in Egypt - The Primary Pyramid Structure Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The Great Step Pyramid of Djoser, which dominates his complex at Saqqara near Cairo in Egypt, has been thoroughly studied in recent decades. Unfortunately, its examination has created just about as many questions as answers. These investigations have shown that its construction plan was changed several times, and that the pyramid's current form is the result of a long process of development that included both experimentation and improvised elements. This pyramid is considered to be the evolutionary basis of all later pyramids in Egypt.

The Mortuary Temple, Serdab, Northern Courtyard and the West Mounds of the Step Pyramid of Djoser Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The area north of the Pyramid proper at the Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser at Saqqara appears to be the least investigated. At the foot of the north wall of the Step Pyramid is situated the imposing mortuary temple of the ruler, where his cult was celebrated. It is from here that the lower chambers of the pyramid are accessed. It may not have always been in its current position. It may have been moved north as the pyramid of Djoser was expanded. The temple's longer axis is oriented east- west. The main entrance of this building, which has a floor that is slightly elevated in comparison to the surrounding buildings, was in the southeastern section.

The South and North Pavilions, the Sed Festival Complex and the Temple "T" in the Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser At Saqqara in Egypt Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

To the west of the Sed Festival Complex in the Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser at Saqqara, and adjacent to the Great Southern Court is the so called "T" Temple, which owes its name to Lauer's working identification of it as "T", and not to its shape. Like other buildings in the Djoser complex, it too uses the old, Early Dynastic Period construction method for mudbrick architecture expressed in its stone block composition. The temple, which could also be entered from the south and the east, consisted of an entry colonnade, an antechamber, three inner courtyards and a square room.

The Trench and Perimeter Wall, the South Courtyard And South Tomb of the Djoser Step Pyramid Complex At Saqqara in Egypt Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

The Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser at Saqqara in Egypt was not only bounded by a monumental perimeter wall of limestone, but was also completely surrounded by an enormous trench measuring some 750 meters long by 40 meters wide. This trench, which was originally carved out of the underlying rock, is now covered up with sand and rubble, but it remains clearly visible in aerial photographs and in photogrammetric maps of Saqqara. The trench, which is actually the largest structure of its kind at Saqqara, resembles the hieroglyphic sign for h, "ground plan for a house.", forming a rectangle that is oriented north-south.

Egypt's Ancient, Small, Southern, Step Pyramids Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston

While everyone knows of Egypt's great pyramids, many less significant examples dot the Egyptian landscape. Scattered along the Nile from Seila, which is on the edge of the Fayoum Oasis, down south to Elephantine Island at Aswan are seven of Egypt's smallest step pyramids. They date from the second half of the 3rd Dynasty to as late as the early 4th Dynasty. There are likely others that remain undiscovered, or now completely ruined. Though today largely discounted, some researchers have even attributed all of these small pyramids to a single ruler, Huni, the last ruler of the 3rd Dynasty, who probably at least built the one located on Elephantine Island. They are very different then the later, larger pyramids, having no internal chambers, nor any underground structures. Among them, only the pyramid in Zawiyet el-Meiyitin was not built on the west bank of the Nile.

The Evolution of the Egyptian Pyramid by Pete Vanderzwet

In the last two decades much has been written on the pyramids, anchored not with archaeological evidence, but instead with wishful thinking and un-evidenced, fanciful imagination. This scholarly error has resulted in a general public that believes the pyramids, Khufu

Last Updated: June 13th, 2011

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