The Black Pyramid




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Dahshur Pyramid Of Amenemhet III {The Black Pyramid}

At Dahshur, there are three pyramids of the Middle Kingdom. The Bent Pyramid of Snefru was one of them. Roughly 2 kilometres east of this pyramid, there is another pyramid from the Middle Kingdom called the Black Pyramid. This is a monument that was built to honour King Amenemhet III. It is called “Black” because the structure contains dark ruins which come out of the sand. There is no pointy top to the pyramid, but rather a rocky outcrop. It certainly doesn’t look like your typical pyramid.

The core of the Black Pyramid is made of dark mudbrick. What’s missing here is the stone framework that other pyramids have which is supposed to stabilize the structure. But the unusual shape of the Black Pyramid was likely not intentional. Most historians believe that robbers and bad weather did a lot of damage to the structure over the many centuries since it was built.

After Senwosret III passed away, his son named Amenemhet III succeeded him. Amenemhet III is considered to be the final great leader of the Twelfth Dynasty.

During the late 19th century, Perring and Lepsius went to the Black Pyramid for the first time. Between 1894 and 1895, Georges Legrain and Jacques de Morgan also went there for the first time too. In 1900, the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation inspected the pyramid site and discovered a gorgeous dark basalt pyramidion. Investigators revealed this artefact on the pyramid’s eastern side. Each side of the pyramidion was ornamented with beautiful inscriptions in hieroglyphics. The pyramidion has since been taken to the Cairo Museum for public viewing.

No one knows if the top of the Black Pyramid ever had the pyramidion on it. Most people don’t think so because the pyramidion is in such great condition. It would not have been preserved so well if it were on the pyramid.

Experts do have crucial questions about this small pyramid because its inscriptions don’t seem to have the God Amun mentioned anywhere. The name of this god was likely eliminated from the inscriptions later during Akhenaten’s rule over Egypt. Since 1976, Deiter Arnold has directed the German Archaeological Institute located in Cairo. The institute has reinvestigated the Black Pyramid numerous times over the years to come to these conclusions.

A lot of complicated planning went into the Black Pyramid’s substructure. It was made differently from other structures during the Twelfth Dynasty because corridors were created to connect the two entrances together. The easterly entrance features a descending staircase that takes you to numerous passages and chambers.

From an east to west direction, the underground royal burial chamber was constructed. It is covered in precious white limestone and includes a vaulted roof on top. On the western side, explorers discovered a huge empty sarcophagus made of pink granite.

As for the Black Pyramid’s western side, you will find the second entrance. It leads to two burial chambers of two queens. These are believed to be both of Amenemhet’s wives.  You can reach the first chamber by taking the descending corridor. This will bring you to the final resting place of Queen Aat. The name of the other queen in the second chamber is unknown.

A sarcophagus was discovered in the chamber of Queen Aat. The decorations on it are like those found on the king’s sarcophagus. Despite the grave robbers hitting this chamber, they seemed to have left behind a canopic chest as well as numerous funerary items. The second chamber of the other queen has a sarcophagus too.

The chambers of the king and his queens are all connected by numerous passageways which exist in the underground corridor. This is the corridor on the pyramid southern side. Some experts think it resembles the dummy tomb which Djoser at Saqqara constructed.

Two walls surround the perimeter of the pyramid. These walls are made from plaster and mudbrick. One inner wall divides an eastern mortuary temple into two sections. This temple was destroyed over the years, though. There was a lengthy offering hall inside the funerary temple which ran up to one of the walls. On the outside of the wall, there were a huge courtyard and eighteen different papyrus columns supporting a portico.

As de Morgan investigated the area between the outer wall and inner wall on the northern side, he found a series of shaft tombs. Amongst these ten tombs were the remains of various family members of Amenemhet. At the eastern area of the shaft, a wooden coffin with a mummy inside was found. The mummy is believed to be of King Hor-Awibre of the Thirteenth Dynasty.

Various funerary items were spotted, such as a wooden ka statue and canopic chest. The statue is now on display at the Cairo Museum. The chest features the seal of Amenemhet III, but the name was written as Nimaatre. This confused Egyptologists at first, but they now theorize the name could be referencing King Khendjer, who was a successor of King Hor-Awibre.

Starting at the mortuary temple, a large open causeway made from mudbrick goes east to a valley temple that suffered horrible damage.  It features two big open courts that were constructed on terraces. Inside the valley temple of Amenemhet, various subterranean chambers exist there from the Thirteenth Dynasty. They are made from limestone material too. There is an inscription in the temple which states the name “Amenemhet IV.”

If you go to the causeway’s northern area, you will find what’s left of various residences which belonged to the personnel of the temple. Despite Amenemhet III having a pyramid in Dahshur of his own, he was not buried there. But evidence shows that a funerary cult may have existed for his wives. Some pieces of Queen Aat’s false door was discovered here.

During the 15th year of Amenemhet III’s rule over Egypt, he seemingly finished his pyramid at Dahshur and then abandoned it. He apparently wanted to construct another pyramid at Hawara. This is the pyramid he would end up getting buried in. The belief is that quite a bit of unstable construction existed at his Dahshur pyramid, causing the underground chambers to face numerous structural problems. Experts think this is likely due to the unstable foundation and soil of this location, seeing how it was near the floor of the Nile Valley and everything. This is just like the mistake that Snefru made when he built the Bent Pyramid.