The late pyramids

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Late pyramids


The Egyptian "late pyramids" correspond to the last pyramids built during antiquity. They were built during the thirteenth and seventeenth dynasties, that is to say at the end of the second intermediate period and the beginning of the New Kingdom. We are between -1785 and -1552.


Political and economic context

The second intermediate period corresponds to a short period during which the Egyptian civilization was dismantled, the centralizing power of the sovereign was disintegrated in favor of local governors. By the end of the Middle Kingdom the Hyksos, invaders who conquered the territory later, had established themselves permanently in the Nile delta. In the same way several sectors of Nubia are abandoned, whereas the previous sovereigns had managed to conquer a large part of Nubia previously. During the second intermediate period (-1785 to -1552) two dynasties reigned in parallel. When power was centralized again, it would give the New Kingdom, a period of history just as fertile as the two previous empires, but the people's vision of his pharaoh changed again, he was still considered a god but without the spiritual attributions of the old empire.


The end of the pyramids

The pyramidal funeral complexes know their swan songs during the second intermediate period. There are many pyramids during this period, some from the beginning of the 2nd intermediate period (13th dynasty) and the others from the end (17th dynasty).

But what characterizes them is the fact that a large number have not yet been studied, they remain for the most part a mystery waiting for a search campaign to clarify our knowledge to their subjects. We know that their sizes are disparate, and that the first two, those of Ameni Keamaou and Khendjer are in the 53m high, the one that is not yet allocated is 93m, while the last are only around 10m from above. Their geographical locations are also disparate: Dahshur, Saqqara, Dra Abu el-Naga and Abydos are all necropolises used at that time. In Abydos we find the very last Egyptian royal pyramid, that of Ahmose I. He was the founder of the 18th Dynasty and the first pharaoh of the New Kingdom.

From his reign the pharaohs preferred to be buried in discrete rock tombs, externally. The goal was that there was no sign that there was a royal tomb here, but inside some funeral complexes could be very rich. The New Kingdom will use among other things a narrow and inaccessible valley to build the royal tombs: the famous valley of kings.


Reasons for abandoning the pyramids

There are several reasons for the abandonment of the pyramid shape for royal funeral complexes at the beginning of the New Kingdom.

First, there is a religious question. The pyramidal shape symbolizes the ascension of the Pharaoh's soul towards the God Ra, God of the Sun. But at the beginning of the New Kingdom this cult is abandoned in favor of that of Amon, meaning "the one who is hidden". Hence the obvious need to transform the royal tombs of a pyramid into a hypogeum, which is a rock burial.

Another reason is more pragmatic, it is practical. The New Kingdom inaugurates a new capital, Thebes. Thebes does not have large limestone plateaus in its immediate region to build gigantic buildings. On the contrary, the surroundings are composed of tormented reliefs, small narrow valleys and peaks of various shapes.

Moreover, the religious organization of Egyptian society at the beginning of the New Kingdom sees a physical distinction between the place of worship of a pharaoh and his tomb. We can henceforth separate the place where the mummy rests from the place where we worship. The temples are built away from the burials, which would have been amazing to do with a large funerary complex.


Some pyramids of the thirteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth dynasties

  • Pyramid of Ameni Kemaou
  • Pyramid of Khendjer
  • Pyramid unfinished and unassigned
  • Pyramid of Antef V
  • Pyramid of Kamose
  • Pyramid Ahmôsis


See also:

All the differents kinds of pyramids

The biographies




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