Egypt Pyramids Inside
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The Pyramids of Giza are grand monuments, but what is inside them and other ancient Egyptian pyramids? (Image credit: Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost via Getty Images)
Egypt Pyramids Inside
When British archaeologist Howard Carter broke into King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, he reported seeing “wonderful things.” Tutankhamun’s tomb was filled with unusual treasures, including Tutankhamun’s golden death mask, a golden throne, and even golden sandals. But did all the royal tombs of ancient Egypt have such plush tombs?
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The answer is no. Although the Great Pyramid of Giza and other ancient Egyptian pyramids are incredible sights, their burial goods were probably relatively modest compared to those buried in the tombs of later pharaohs such as Tutankhamun.
“The Great Pyramid burials looked quite simple compared to Tutankhamun’s burials,” Wolfram Graecki, an emeritus senior fellow at University College London in the United Kingdom who has researched and written extensively on ancient Egyptian burial customs and burial goods, told Live Science. Email.
The pyramids were used as tombs for Egyptian pharaohs from the time of Djoser (ruled from about 2630 BC to 2611 BC) to Ahmose I (ruled from about 1550 BC to 1525 . B.C.). Most of these pyramids were looted centuries ago, but some royal tombs have remained relatively intact and offer clues to their treasures, Graecki said.
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For example, Princess Neferuta (who lived around 1800 BC) was buried in a pyramid at the site of Khawar, about 100 miles south of Cairo. Her burial chamber was excavated in 1956 and “contained pottery, a coffin kit, some gilded personal ornaments and a set of royal insignia that identified her with the underworld god Osiris,” Graecki said.
King Horus (who lived around 1750 B.C.) was buried with a similar collection of objects, although he was not buried in a pyramid, Grajecki said. “[Hora’s] body was wrapped in cloth, the entrails were placed in special containers called closed jars,” said Hrayecki. “His face was covered by a mummy mask.”
Photo of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. (Image credit: skaman306 via Getty Images)
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The tomb of Queen Hetefer, mother of Khufu (the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid), is a bit more complicated. The tomb at Giza contained a bed and two chairs decorated with gold, as well as pottery and miniature copper tools, Graecki wrote in an article (opens in new tab) published in the January 2008 issue of Egyptian Heritage magazine.
The substructure (lower part) of the unfinished pyramid of King Sechemket (c. 2611 BC – 2605 BC) was found intact at Saqqara by Reg Clarke, an Egyptologist who is the author of the book Defending Eternity: Defending the Ancient Egyptian tombs from prehistory to prehistory”. pyramids (opens in new tab)” (American University in Cairo Press, 2019), according to an email to Live Science. The king’s sarcophagus was empty, but archaeologists found “21 gold bracelets, a gold rod or scepter and various other gold ornaments” in the corridor, Clark said. While these are impressive grave goods, they do not come close to the wealth found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Artifacts found in these royal burials suggest that the pharaohs buried in the pyramids may have been buried in tombs that were more modest than those found with Tutankhamun, Graecki noted. Unlike the early pharaohs, Tutankhamun’s tomb was located in the Valley of the Kings, a remote valley near modern-day Luxor that was used as a royal tomb during the New Kingdom for more than 500 years, according to Britannica (opens in new tab).
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“This does not mean that he [Khufu] was poorer [than Tutankhamun]. His pyramid proves otherwise. He was simply buried according to the customs of his time,” Hrayetskyi wrote in the article.
No great treasures have been discovered in any of the famous pyramids of Egypt. “There were no great ‘treasures’ like Tutankhamun’s tomb in the pyramids,” Hans-Hubertus Minh, a scientist who has studied and written about ancient Egyptian burial finds, told Live Science in an email. Also, no tombs were found that contained a large number of lavish tombs dating back to when the pyramids were built, Ming said. He noted that during the New Kingdom (about 1550 BC to 1070 AD), when the construction of the pyramid ended, there was an increase in the number of lavish tombs buried with royalty and non-royals.
During the New Kingdom period, people, if they had the means, tried to put a lot of luxury items in their tombs. “This huge mass of objects in the tombs is just an invention of the New Kingdom,” Ming said. Why exactly they wanted to do this is not entirely clear.
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Although burial goods in the pyramids were modest compared to later ancient Egyptian tombs, the walls of some pyramids contained long hieroglyphic inscriptions, which modern scholars call “pyramid texts.” The texts record a large number of “spells” (as Egyptologists call them) and rituals.
The Pyramid of Unis or Una (reigned from about 2353 BC to 2323 BC) was the first pyramid to have these texts on its interior walls, and the Pyramid of Ibi (reigned from about 2109 BC . to 2107 BC) was the last known case, James Allen. , professor of Egyptology at Brown University, wrote in Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts (opens in new tab) (Society of Biblical Literature, 2005).
The function of the pyramid texts was to “allow the dead to become ah,” a spirit that exists in the afterlife, Allen wrote. The purpose of the spells was to reunite “ka” and “ba” – parts of the human soul, which the Egyptians believed separated after death.
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The appearance of these texts “probably reflects a change or innovation in ancient Egyptian ideas about the royal afterlife,” Allen told Live Science. Documents such as the Pyramid Texts may have existed in the past, but for some reason they began to be written on the walls of the pyramids during the time of Unis.
Owen Jarrus is a regular Live Science contributor who writes about archeology and the human past. He has also written for The Independent (UK), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP). Owen holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University. Although every effort has been made to follow the rules of citation style, some inconsistencies are possible. If you have questions, consult the appropriate style guide or other sources.
According to Napoleonic legend, the future emperor of France emerged from Egypt’s Great Pyramid pale and dazed after spending hours alone in the king’s chamber. He never revealed what struck him, but the episode is believed to have changed his life. Whether this story is true or not, it certainly speaks to the Great Pyramid’s power to fire a great leader’s imagination, as well as our own: what could Napoleon have seen to cause such a reaction? What exactly is inside the Great Pyramid? The simple answer is, well, not really.
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The Great Pyramid, or Khufu’s Pyramid, is the oldest and tallest of the three pyramids towering over Giza. Built with 2551-2528 BC it was originally 481.4 feet (147 meters) or about 45 stories. Its sheer size makes it awe-inspiring, but the Great Pyramid and its neighbors, the Pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, are mostly solid masses of stone—2.3 million blocks of carved limestone, to be exact, which is a rough estimate. the number that makes up the Great Pyramid. All three pyramids originally had an outer shell of light limestone, as can be seen on the cap of Khafre’s pyramid. We can only imagine how the brilliant white limestone would have made the pyramids an even more dazzling sight than they are now.
The Pyramids of Giza, like the Egyptian pyramids before and after them, were royal tombs, the final resting place of their pharaohs or kings. They were often part of a large funerary complex that included burial sites for queens and funerary temples for daily sacrifices. The pharaoh’s final resting place was usually in an underground burial chamber under the pyramid. Although the Great Pyramid has underground chambers, they were never completed, and Khufu’s sarcophagus is located in the king’s room, where Napoleon is said to have stayed, deep inside the Great Pyramid.
Like its neighbors, the Great Pyramid has very little free space within its great mass. Napoleon could have reached the King’s Chamber through a very narrow ascending passage, past the Queen’s Chamber (a misnomer) and then down a longer fluted passage called the Grand Gallery. Once in the Royal Chamber, Napoleon would have seen that it was small and, like the chambers of other kings, lined with thick blocks of granite. The room would have been very austere, as the Egyptians began to decorate burial chambers with hieroglyphic texts only in the later pyramids. In addition, by the time of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt at the end of the 18th century, the pyramids had already been there for a long time.
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