STEP PYRAMID - Pharaoh Djoser - 1st Pyramid Builder - 3rd Dynasty
PYRAMID OF USERKAF - 5th Dynasty
PYRAMID OF UNAS - 5th Dynasty - The Pyramid Texts
PYRAMID OF TETI - 6th Dynasty
PYRAMID OF PEPI l & ll - 6th Dynasty
PYRAMID OF DJEDKARE- ISESI - 6th Dynasty
PYRAMID OF MERENRE - 6th Dynasty
MASTABA OF MERERUKA - 6th Dynasty
TOMB OF HOREMHEB
OTHER SAQARRA TOMBS
PYRAMIDS AT DAHSHUR
BENT PYRAMID SNEFRU - 4TH DYNASTY - 2nd Pyramid Builder
RED PYRAMID SNEFRU - 4TH DYNASTY
PYRAMID OF SESOSTRIS
PYRAMID OF AMENEMHET III - THE WHITE PYRAMID
PYRAMID OF AMENEMHET III - THE BLACK PYRAMID
GREAT PYRAMID OF KHUFU - CHEOPS - 3rd Great Pyramid Builder
SCHEMATICS AND PHOTOS
FACTS AND STATISTICS
ELLIE'S THEORIES ON THE GREAT PYRAMID AS A CREATIONAL SOURCE
GREAT PYRAMID AND THE ARC OF THE COVENANT
THE PYRAMID OF KHAFRE - CHEPREN ~ BUILT THE SPHINX
THE PYRAMID OF MYKERINOS - MENKAURE
QUEENS' PYRAMIDS ~ MORTUARY TEMPLE ~ VALLEY TEMPLE -
SMALLEST AND FINAL PYRAMID TO BE BUILT AT THE GIZA PLATEAU
PYRAMIDS AT ABUSIR:
Almost every pharaoh of the 5th dynasty had his tomb built in Abusir.
The pyramids which are much smaller than the ones at Giza show us
how religious views changed after the 4th dynasty. The solar religion
of Heliopolis became predominant. The temples became bigger and
even a new type of temple was constructed: The solar sanctuary.
It represented the pharaoh's close connection to Re, the sun-god.
NIUSERRE ~ PYRAMID & SOLAR SANCTUARY
PYRAMID OF SAHURE
PYRAMID OF NEFERIRKARE
PYRAMID OF NEFEREFRE
DJEDEFRE AT ABU RAWASH
PYRAMIDS AT ZAWYET EL-ARYAN
PYRAMIDS AT FAIYUM ~ ILLAHUN ~ HAWARA ~ LAHUN
PYRAMIDS AT LISHT ~ AMENEMHET l ~ SESOSTRIS I
Out in the desert at Abydos, the first kings of Egypt were buried in deep brick-lined tombs topped with square or rectangular mounds of sand which Egyptologists call 'mastabas', due to their resemblance to the benches that once stood in front of modern Egyptian village homes. So important was the mound over these royal tombs, that by the middle of the First Dynasty, the builders constructed two of them.
One was placed underground, supported by a retaining wall, directly over the stout roofing beams that covered the increasingly elaborate tombs. The second mastaba, encased in a mud-brick wall, was placed above ground, directly over the first. Clearly the early kings had come to see that various chaotic forces, such as rain or flash-floods and wind storms, could destroy the burial mound and interrupt resurrection much in the same way they feared chaos could interfere with the actual cycle of cosmic creation.
The upper mastaba was designed to protect the lower mastaba and doubled the chances of survival in this world and the next. This reinforcement and multiplication of the mound later played a part in the genesis of the pyramid.
With each generation the royal tombs became more elaborate, containing a huge number of sumptuous offerings and surrounded by the graves of wives, household retainers, servants and even pets. The largest and the last royal tomb to be built at Abydos is that of King Khasekhemwy, the last king of the Second Dynasty who ruled Egypt to about 2686 BC. Since 1995 Dr. Gunter Dreyer of the German Archaeological Institute has been re-investigating his tomb, clearing away the sand that has covered it since its initial excavation a century ago. Completely unlike the tombs of his predecessors, Khasekhemwy's tomb is trapezoidal in shape and impressively large. In a trench dug deep in the sand, it was constructed of mud brick and measures almost 69 m (230 ft) in length, varying in width between 17.6 m (56 ft) and 10.4 m (33 ft).
After two seasons, Dreyer has succeeded in clearing again the first part of the tomb, which was made up of thirty-three storage rooms for offerings and funerary equipment laid out in three rows. His careful study of the architectural remains has revealed a fascinating story of structural collapse which protected valuable burial equipment from the robbers who burrowed through the walls to get at it; further large-scale pillaging was followed by pious restoration in the Middle Kingdom, many centuries after the tomb was built.
However, Dreyer has yet to reach the really interesting part of the tomb, the burial chamber - a room built entirely of dressed stone blocks. At the time of its initial discovery, this chamber was the earliest stone construction then known, and, although earlier examples of stone masonry have since been found, Khasekhemwy's remains the finest of its age. New research suggests it is but a mere hint of what he was capable.
While such tombs were the private chambers of the king for eternity, at the edge of the desert about half a mile (1 km) away each king built for himself an eternal palace of state; a place where the official and ritual business of a king could be undertaken for eternity, and where eternal tribute and nourishment would be supplied.
No doubt based on the actual palace that the king used during his lifetime, many of these massive mud-brick enclosures were decorated on their outer surface with a series of niches or recesses to create a paneled effect.
Before the invention of the cartouche to enclose a king's name, the image of the niched facade of the royal palace was used.
The king's name was inscribed as if on the lintel over an elaborately paneled gateway in a device called a serekh. Subsequently, the whole design of panels, recesses and doors became the fixed scheme for the carved stone sarcophagi of royalty and the elite alike throughout the Old Kingdom and later. In effect, the sarcophagus became each person's individual palace of eternity.
Khasekhemwy's is the only one of these palaces of eternity at Abydos still clearly visible. In fact, it is hard to miss. Still standing in places to its full original height of 11 m (36 ft), with walls 5.5 m (18 ft) thick, it is one of the oldest standing mud-brick structures in the world. It measures 122 m (400 ft) in length and 65 m (213 ft) wide and is surrounded by a low curtain wall.
Unfortunately, little remains within the structure to help determine how it might have functioned, since buildings of temporary and perishable materials have vanished. However, clearance of a portion of the vast enclosed space in 1988 by O'Connor and his team uncovered a large mound of sand and gravel covered with a brick skin near the center of the structure.
Its significance is not entirely clear. Perhaps it formed another 'mound of creation', signifying the presence of the king's resurrected spirit; and as such it is another step toward the birth of the pyramid. This king's ability to marshal a workforce to construct such a massive tomb and vast mortuary palace is as impressive as the structures themselves. Millions of mud bricks were involved, some of which had to be hauled over a mile into the desert to be put in place.
But Khasekhemwy didn't just build one of these palatial enclosures, he built another at Hierakonpolis. Only onethird the size of the enclosure at Abydos, it was nevertheless no mean feat, and it too still stands to its original height, a testament to its builders' construction skills. The real story of the pyramids begins here, in terms of the organizational aspect alone.
Khasekhemwy, although little known, was the first major builder among the pharaohs, but he didn't stop with the building of tombs. The accomplished relief carving on the hard stone architectural features that embellished both his enclosure and the temple of Horus at Hierakonpolis, as well as the two stone statues of himself that he dedicated there, anticipates the formal style and poses of Egyptian art which were to follow.
Khasekhemwy had taken Egypt to the cusp of the Old Kingdom, the first great flowering of Egyptian civilization. Massive constructions of mud brick and refined carving of hard stone were well within his control. But it seems that Khasekhemwy may have had even greater aspirations, further north, at Saqqara. The Old Kingdom was the great age of pyramid building in Egypt. Pyramid, would continue to be built for another 500 years, but priorities would change.
At the beginning of the New Kingdom, the pyramid form was turned over to the officials of the realm to build over their rock-cut tombs. The king had different plans.
Nearly thirty pharaohs would eventually be buried in what is now known as the Valley of the Kings. At the edge of the cultivated fields each king built his palace of eternity, or Mansion of Millions of Years as it was called, reviving a tradition dating back to Egypt's first kings.
Immortality was now reinforced by the stunning array of texts and pictures which decorated their distant tombs and was assured in the increasingly elaborate mortuary temples and temples of state, where the king was portrayed both with and as the god Amun-Ra, the chief god of Thebes. These new mounds of creation, embellished with the tribute from a far-flung empire, would become the focus of the king's creative urge, and would now speak of his power and the glory. And like the pyramids, they continue to stun and amaze. But this is far from being the end of the story.
Centuries later the royal pyramid will make a dramatic reappearance.
THE PYRAMID TEXTS
ELLIE'S JOURNEY TO THE PYRAMIDS - DECEMBER 2000
SACRED PLACES AND TEACHINGS INDEX
ALPHABETICAL INDEX OF ALL FILES
CRYSTALINKS MAIN PAGE