Introduction to Egyptian Pyramids
-There are about 180 pyramids currently known in Egypt, most of them were built in the Old Kingdom,
which is the golden age of pyramid construction.
- The resources used in the Old Kingdom, and specially during the 4th Dynasty, for building enormous pyramids, were never matched again throughout the rest of the Egyptian history
- Most pyramids are located near the modern Cairo, Otherwise, only one royal pyramid in southern Egypt, at Abydos was built by Ahmose 1, founder of the 18th Dynasty It is also the last royal pyramid ever built.
Comparison Between Egyptian and Mexican Pyramids
|Criteria||The Great Pyramid of Giza||Aztec Pyramid of Cholula - Mexico|
|Design||One phase construction by a single architect||Incorporated in the pyramid is one of the primary Aztec architectural laws "superimposition", they enlarged their pyramid- temples by constructing a new building around the first. The final version being the product of a series of constructions each of which includes the one before.|
|Construction time span||Constructed over a 20 year period concluding at 2560 BC by a single Pharaohs Khufu during his life||Built over many generation - Cholula construction continued for 14 centuries, from the 200 BC to 1200 A.D.|
|Dimensions||- A base of 230 x 230 meters and a height of 146.6 meters (the tallest stone monument in the world)
- Inclination 51.5 degrees
- Volume 2.6 million m3
|- A base of 450 x 450 meters and a height of 66 meters
- inclination 17 degrees
- Volume 3.3 million m3 (the largest monument ever constructed in the world)
|Shape||A true Pyramid with a smooth outer casing of stones (now destroyed)||A flat-topped Stepped Pyramid|
|Function||Burial place for Khufu, representing a stairway for the Pharaoh to ascend to the s.||Temple dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl - used as a place for sacrifice|
|Climatic effects on structure||Dry climate - External casing eroded and peak destroyed||Wet climate - Almost completely buried beneath a layer of soil and vegetation|
3rd Dynasty Pyramids
Step Pyramid at Saqqara
This is the world's oldest major stone structure and earliest pyramid, built for
Pharaoh Zoser of the 3rd Dynasty by his architect Imhotep
- Its construction was initially in the form of a low mastaba tomb upon which extra levels were gradually added to give it a step-like appearance.
- Underneath Zoser's pyramid was a complex system of corridors with a burial chamber 28 meters underground
- Nearby were the Mortuary temple, a Great Court and various other structures.
- This structure unprecedented in history, represented a giant leap in building techniques, as a result Imhotep was deified by later generations.
4th Dynasty Pyramids
Meidum Pyramid at Fayum
The Meidum pyramid is a tower shaped structure some sixty-five meters from the 4th Dynasty,
- The early phases of construction were done by Huni, and Snefru was responsible for the completion of the Pyramid.
- The initial building resembled a 7 steeped pyramid with a square base, an enlargement took place during construction and the pyramid was converted to eight steps. finally the steps were filled in with packed stone and the whole structure was overlaid with a smooth casing.
- The pyramid collapsed in antiquity, and only the central core remain standing,
The Bent (South) Pyramid at Dahshur
This Pyramid built by Snefru in the 4th Dynasty is a truly remarkable structure, and is most notable for its bent shape, about halfway up, and the most intact casings of all the pyramids in Egypt.
structural problems caused the builders to change the angle from 54' in the lower part, of inclination to 43? in the upper part, 45 meters high, and giving the bent pyramid it's 2 angle shape
The Red (North) Pyramid at Dahshur
The first true pyramid was developed for Pharaoh Snefru during the 4th Dynasty.
- It is referred to as the Red Pyramid, because of its color,
- It was about 105 meters high with its sides measuring 220 meters, constructed with a constant angle of 43 throughout.
- The passage towards the burial chambers is built ascending westward, as opposed to the conventionally descending northward direction of previous passages
The Giza Plateau
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest pyramid ever built, it was built by for
Khufu during the 4th Dynasty by his architect Hemon
- It contains 2,300,000 blocks of stone with an average weight of 2.5 tones.
- The interior design was changed during the pyramid's construction and the burial chamber was relocated.
- It has an enormous sloping Grand Gallery, at the Gallery's top is a low corridor which leads into the Pharaoh's Chamber which contains a large granite sarcophagus, no burial goods were ever found.
- Small pyramids for queens are adjacent to the Great Pyramid
- Two solar boats were discovered in pits next to the pyramid in 1952,
- To the east of the pyramid there is a mortuary temple and the causeway which led to the river temple
- The Giza Plateau also is home to two other large pyramids for the subsequent Pharaohs, Khafre and Menkaura.
- As with the Great Pyramid, both of these pyramids have valley temples and mortuary temples connected by causeways.
- The Second pyramid of Chephren was built on the highest ground at the Giza plateau, from a distance this structure appears to be the larger than Cheops pyramid. In fact, The pyramid of Chephren was smaller by 10.2m, standing at 136.4m. Next to Chephren's valley temple is the famous 73 meter long Sphinx.
- The Sphinx was carved from a rocky outcrop at the time Chephren.
- The pyramid of Menkaura had to be completed by his son, Shepseskaf, probably because of Menkaura sudden death. The intended casing in granite was never completed. Despite the pyramid's relatively small scale, it is here that some of the finest sculptures of this period were found
5th Dynasty Pyramids
Sahure the 2nd ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty, constructed this pyramid at Abusir, near Saqqara.
- It marks the decline of pyramid building, both in terms of size and quality, compared to the 4th Dynasty pyramids.
- However many of the reliefs and inscriptions which decorated the temple walls of both Sahure's and other fifth Dynasty's kings are of higher quality, and provide more information than the undecorated large pyramids of the 4th Dynasty
- The core of the pyramid is formed with roughly shaped locally quarried limestone blocks. It consisted of five or six steps.
- The valley temple has a long axis with Eight pink granite columns adorning the entrance, a basalt floor, decorated walls and an astronomical ceiling.
- The central room leads to the causeway that then leads to the mortuary temple.
- The room also had a stairway to a roof terrace.
Unas the last ruler of Egypt's 5th Dynasty, constructed this pyramid at Saqqara, is now ruined, and looks like a small hill of rubble.
- It is the oldest known royal tomb to have contained Pyramid Texts
- In the burial chamber itself the remains of a mummy were found, including the skull, right arm and shin
6th Dynasty Pyramids
Pepi 2 pyramid
This pyramid is located South Saqqara and was constructed by Pepi 2 the last ruler of Egypt's 6th Dynasty,
and was the last to be built in the best traditions of the Old Kingdom
- Pyramid Texts were inscribed on the walls and corridors
- His mortuary complex was built and decorated in a poorer manner than those of his predecessors.