Pyramid of Menkaure


The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three main
Pyramids A pyramid (from el, πυραμίς ') is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single step at the top, making the shape roughly a pyramid in the geometric sense. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilater ...
Giza Giza (; sometimes spelled ''Gizah ''or ''Jizah''; ar, الجيزة ', ) is the list of cities and towns in Egypt, second-largest city in Egypt after Cairo and List of cities in Africa by population, fourth-largest city in Africa after Kinshasa, ...

, located on the
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in the southwestern outskirts of
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.3 million, is the 2nd largest in Africa and in the Arab world, and the ...

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. It is thought to have been built to serve as the
tomb at Hierapolis Hierapolis ( grc, Ἱεράπολις, lit. "Holy City") was an ancient Greek city located on hot springs in Greco-Roman culture, classical Phrygia in southwestern Anatolia. Its ruins are adjacent to modern Pamukkale in Turke ...

of the
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Menkaure Menkaure (also Menkaura, Egyptian transliteration ''mn-k3w-Rˁ''), was an ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in ...


Size and construction

Menkaure's pyramid had an original height of , and was the smallest of the three major pyramids at the Giza Necropolis. It now stands at tall with a base of . Its angle of incline is approximately 51°20′25″. It was constructed of limestone and Aswan granite. The first sixteen courses of the exterior were made of the red granite. The upper portion was cased in the normal manner with Tura (Egypt), Tura limestone. Part of the granite was left in the rough. Incomplete projects such as this pyramid help archaeologists understand the methods used to build pyramids and temples.

Age and location

The pyramid's date of construction is unknown, because Menkaure's reign has not been accurately defined, but it was probably completed in the 26th century BC. It is a few hundred meters southwest of its larger neighbors, the Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Pyramid of Giza, Great Pyramid of Khufu in the Giza necropolis.

Sarcophagus & coffin

Richard William Howard Vyse, Howard Vyse discovered on 28 July 1837 in the upper antechamber the remains of a wooden anthropoid coffin inscribed with Menkaure's name and containing human bones. This is now considered to be a substitute coffin from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt, Saite period. Radiocarbon dating on the bones determined them to be less than 2,000 years old, suggesting either an all-too-common bungled handling of remains from another site, or access to the pyramid during Ancient Rome, Roman times. The lid from the anthropoid coffin mentioned above was successfully transported to England and may be seen today at the British Museum. Deeper into the pyramid, Vyse came upon a basalt sarcophagus, described as beautiful black and rich in detail with a bold projecting cornice, which contained the bones of a young woman. Unfortunately, this sarcophagus now lies at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, having sunk on 13 October 1838, with the ship ''Beatrice'', as she made her way between Malta and Cartagena, Spain, Cartagena, on the way to Great Britain. It was one of only a handful of Old Kingdom sarcophagi to survive into the modern period.

Pyramid Complex

Pyramid Temple

In the mortuary temple the foundations and the inner core were made of limestone. The floors were begun with granite and granite facings were added to some of the walls. The foundations of the valley temple were made of stone but both temples were finished with crude bricks. Reisner estimated that some of the blocks of local stone in the walls of the mortuary temple weighed as much as 220 tons, while the heaviest granite ashlars imported from Aswan weighed more than 30 tons. It is assumed that Menkaure's successor Shepseskaf completed the temple construction. An inscription in the mortuary temple that said he "made it (the temple) as his monument for his father, the king of upper and lower Egypt." Subsequent architectural additions and two stelae from the Sixth Dynasty suggest that a cult for the Pharaoh was maintained (or was periodically renewed) for two centuries after his death.Lehner, Mark in:

Valley Temple

The Menkaure Valley Temple was excavated between 1908 and 1910 by American Archaeology, archaeologist George Andrew Reisner. He found a large number of statues mostly of Menkaure alone and as a member of a group. These were all carved in the naturalistic style of the old kingdom with a high degree of detail.

Queens' Pyramids

South of the pyramid of Menkaure are three smaller pyramids, designated Pyramid G3-a, G3-a, Pyramid G3-b, G3-b, and Pyramid G3-c, G3-c, each with accompanied by a temple and substructure. The easternmost is the largest and a true pyramid. Its casing is partly of granite, like the main pyramid, and is believed to have been completed due to the limestone pyramidion found close by. Neither of the other two progressed beyond the construction of the inner core.Edwards, I. E. S.: ''The Pyramids of Egypt'' 1986/1947 pp. 147–163 George Andrew Reisner, Reisner speculated that the structures were likely tombs for the queens of Menkaure, and that the individuals buried there may have also been his half-sisters. The archaeologist Mark Lehner argues that Pyramid G3-a has a layout akin to a ''Ancient Egyptian conception of the soul#Ka (vital essence), ka'' pyramid, which would have housed a statue of the king rather than a body. The fact that the structure once contained a pink granite sarcophagus, however, has led scholars to speculate that it may have been reused as a queen's burial tomb, or that it served as a chapel where the body of Menkaure was mummified.

Attempted demolition

In AD 1196, Al-Aziz Uthman, Saladin's son and the Sultan of Egypt, attempted to demolish the pyramids, starting with that of Menkaure. Workmen recruited to demolish the pyramid stayed at their job for eight months, but found it almost as expensive to destroy as to build. They could only remove one or two stones each day. Some used wedge (mechanical device), wedges and levers to move the stones, while others used ropes to pull them down. When a stone fell, it would bury itself in the sand, requiring extraordinary efforts to free it. Wedges were used to split the stones into several pieces, and a cart was used to carry it to the foot of the escarpment, where it was left. Despite their efforts, workmen were only able to damage the pyramid to the extent of leaving a large vertical gash at its northern face.Stewert, Desmond and editors of the Newsweek Book Division "The Pyramids and Sphinx" 1971 p. 101 Lehner, Mark ''The Complete Pyramids'', London: Thames and Hudson (1997) p. 41 .

See also

*Egyptian pyramid construction techniques *List of Egyptian pyramids *List of megalithic sites


Further reading


External links

Guardian's Ancient Egypt: The Pyramid of Menkaure
{{DEFAULTSORT:Pyramid Of Menkaure Buildings and structures completed in the 26th century BC Giza Plateau Pyramids of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt Menkaure Buildings and structures in Giza