June 19, 2012

The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P6

In several important respects, the Meidum pyramid differs from its predecessors. The tomb chamber is not located at the bottom of a shaft but at the base of the pyramid itself and access to it is by a low and narrow passage passing through the body of the pyramid at an angle of 28° pointing, like a telescope, to the celestial pole. It is significant that this feature was already embodied in the first building phase and well before the shape of the monument was turned into a true pyramid. The small tomb chamber has a corbelled roof to withstand the pressure of the superincumbent weight. It contained no sarcophagus. The surrounding wall, too, differs from the previous pattern, being much smaller and not enclosing any courts. Within it, and close to the main building, stands a now much ruined, small subsidiary pyramid. Attached to the east side of the pyramid is a small mortuary temple and from it a long causeway leads to the Nile. At its lower end stood a valley building which has now sunk into the silt. It permitted access to the pyramid complex by boat, at least during the inundation season. This pattern of an entrance passage directed towards the pole, a small enclosure and a mortuary temple with causeway to the river, was repeated in all the subsequent great pyramids. They also share with the Meidum structure a very accurate alignment according to the cardinal points.

Step Pyramid
The drastic change of the monument’s shape and the equally novel conception underlying the layout and character of the whole pyramid complex indicate some profound alteration in the beliefs concerning the pharaoh’s afterlife. To what extent these changes reflect some new religious and political role played by the king we can only guess at. Dr I. E. S. Edwards of the British Museum, one of the greatest authorities on the Egyptian pyramids, has suggeste13 The classical Pyramid Complex. The pyramid (i), often accompanied by a small subsidiary pyramid, stood in a court surrounded by a temenos wall (2). A funerary temple (3) was adjacent to the eastern side of the pyramid and from it led a causeway (4) to the valley building (5) which could be reached by boat from the Nile that the shape of the monuments may be connected with the striking spectacle produced by the rays of the sun when, after one of the rare rainstorms it breaks through the clouds, forming a huge celestial pyramid. Indeed, this phenomenon may be the origin of the ben-ben, the sacred conical pillar venerated in the Sun Temple at Heliopolis. The change also seems to have coincided with the ascendancy of the priests of Heliopolis as a major political force in Egypt. Their domination over the power of the pharaoh had certainly become fully established in the Fifth Dynasty. Already in the Fourth Dynasty the dead king was regarded as the companion of the sun god whom he accompanied on his daily journey across the sky. Equally, the pharaoh’s connection with the never setting circumpolar stars was emphasised by the direction of the entrance passage which linked them with his tomb chamber.

No other great pyramid was ever built at Meidum and the next o stone pyramids are at Dahshur, several miles south of Saqqara. now known that the southern one was built first. Covering an 19° m- square, it is a good deal larger than either the pyra- 2^^ S °* Zoser or the one at Meidum, and it presents a curious ct. The lower part rises at an elevation of about 54 but when the building had reached a third of its intended height, the angle was lowered to 43£°. This rhomboidal shape, which has earned the monument the name of the ‘Bent Pyramid’, reduces the origin, ally envisaged height of about 135 m. to only 101 m. In more than one respect, the shape of the Bent Pyramid forms an essential part of our quest for the purpose of pyramid-building and we must therefore leave its explanation for the time being.

Much of the Bent Pyramid’s interior was already described by Perring, but a great deal of further work has been done in recent years by Ahmed Fakhry. His investigations on behalf of the Antiquities Service have yielded a number of valuable new discoveries. An entrance passage, pointing to the pole star, leads to two internal chambers with corbel roofs, connected by a curious system of corridors and portcullises which suggests that either of the chambers could be closed forever while the other still remained unoccupied. Moreover, in addition to the polar passage which leads into the lower chamber, a second one connects the upper chamber with an aperture high up in the western face of the pyramid. No explanation has ever been offered for this unique feature but one 14 Isometric section, showing the chambers and passages of the Bent Pyramid. From the polar entrance passage (not shown) a horizontal corridor (1) leads to a narrow and high entrance hall (2) which connects directly with the lower chamber (3). Two passages (4 and 5) lead to a blind vertical shaft (6). From the upper part of the lower chamber a curved and rising passage (7) leads to a horizontal corridor (8) which opens at one end into the upper chamber (9). The other end of this corridor, which is interrupted by two portcullises (10 and 11), turns into the western entrance passage (12). The upper chamber, whose roof like that of the entrance hall (2) has remained unfinished, contains a number of horizontal cedar- wood beams (13), which are also shown in pi. 25. See also Fig. 8

Like the Meidum pyramid, the Bent Pyramid has a small mortuary temple at its eastern face. A causeway leads to the valley building which has been excavated by Fakhry and which he found adorned with relief friezes of great beauty. They are of women offering-bearers representing the various nomes.

Egyptian Pyramid Age :
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P1
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P2
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P3
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P4
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P5
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P6
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P7
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P8
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P9
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P10


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