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Menkaure Pyramid

Discover Menkaure Pyramid: an ancient marvel honoring Pharaoh Menkaure's legacy. Explore its secrets and architectural wonders, unveiling ancient Egypt's rich history.

Menkaure Pyramid - Egypt Tours Portal
Overview
Menkaure Pyramid
Location Giza Plateau, Southwest of Cairo
Height 65 metres
Base 104.6 metres
Volume 235,183 cubic metres
Slope 51°20'25''
Purpose Funerary Tomb

Summary

  • Menkaure Pyramid, the youngest among the Giza trio, stands as a testament to ancient Egyptian greatness. Built around 2510 BC, its purpose was to honor Pharaoh Menkaure's legacy, though it was left incomplete due to economic constraints.
  • Menkaure, or Mycerinus, ruled during the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt, constructing this pyramid to solidify his place in history. He reigned for about 20 years, succeeding his father Khafre and succeeded by Shepseskaf.
  • At 65.5 meters tall, it's the smallest of the Giza pyramids, crafted with red granite and Tura limestone. Its incomplete state provides archaeologists invaluable insights into ancient construction techniques.
  • Exploring inside unveils a meticulously designed burial chamber, corridors, and chambers with intriguing niches. The burial chamber, entirely made of pink granite, hints at changes made after Menkaure's death.
  • Surrounding the pyramid are smaller queen's pyramids, a mortuary temple, and the Menkaure Valley Temple, adorned with numerous statues depicting the Pharaoh, offering a glimpse into ancient religious practices.
  • Despite facing erosion and historic attempts at destruction, the Menkaure Pyramid remains a cultural gem, standing as a testament to ancient beliefs about the afterlife.

The Menkaure pyramid is the youngest and the smallest of the three great pyramids of Giza Necropolis. The pyramid was built by Menkaure of the Golden Fourth Dynasty (2613-2494 BC) to complete the legacy of his great ancestors.

The exact date of its construction is unknown, as Menkaure's reign wasn't fully defined during the 26th century BC. The pyramid of Menkaure was known in the ancient Egyptian language as "Netjer-er-Menkaure" which means "Menkaure Is Divine". The pyramid was left incomplete, which gave archaeologists the chance to understand the method used to construct the temples and the pyramids.

History of Menkaure Pyramid

History of Menkaure Pyramid - Egypt Tours Portal
History of Menkaure Pyramid - Egypt Tours Portal

The true pyramid of Menkaure gained the name "Menkaure is Divine" which was established around 2510 BC in the 4th dynasty. It was built to embody the legacy of one of the last kings of the 4th dynasty in the 26th century BC. The pyramid is known for being the smallest of all the Giza pyramid complexes due to the economic problems that led to the pyramid construction being very limited. The pyramid remained in its location in the best possible condition until 1196 AD, when the Sultan of Egypt and Saladin's son Al-Aziz Uthman attempted to destroy the pyramid.

He hired workers for eight months and was only able to remove one stone a day, even with the help of wedges, levers, and ropes to move and pull down stones, but the fallen stones often buried themselves in the sand, making it difficult to retrieve them. The workers were only able to make a massive significant vertical gap, which can be seen on the northern side of the pyramid. The history of Menkaure dates all the way to the 19th century AD when it was mentioned in a poem called "Mycerinus" written by the English poet Matthew Arnold. Over centuries, the pyramid faced destruction, with its casing stones used for various constructions, notably by Muhammad Ali Pasha in the 19th century for an arsenal in Alexandria.

Who is King Menkaure

Who is King Menkaure - Egypt Tours Portal
Who is King Menkaure - Egypt Tours Portal

Pharaoh Menkaure, who was also known as Mycerinus or Menkheres, was one of the ancient Egyptian rulers of the Fourth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom of ancient Egypt (2700 - 2200 BC). He succeeded Khafre, his father, the creator of the Second Pyramid of Khafre. He's renowned for his Pyramid of Menkaure at Giza and statues featuring him with his wives and various deities. He ruled around 2530 BC for about 18 to 22 years, succeeding Khafre and followed by Shepseskaf. Menkaure was Khafre's son and Khufu's grandson.

He likely had at least two wives, Khamerernebty I and Rekhetre, and had several children, including Khuenre, Shepseskaf, Sekhemre, and possibly a daughter named Khentkaus I. His reign lasted for about 20 years, which was based on historical records like the Turin King List and graffiti by workers. His royal court involved several half-brothers who served as viziers during his rule. In 2013, a fragment of Menkaure's sphinx was found at Tel Hazor, an intriguing discovery shedding light on his historical presence beyond Egypt's borders.

Location and How to Get Menkaure Pyramid

The pyramid is situated on the Giza Plateau which is found in the southwest of Cairo. In order to reach the pyramid, it is advised to book a travel agency in order to reach this incredible attraction and cast your eyes on the wonders of the immortal Giza pyramids complex.

The Architecture and Purpose of the Menkaure Pyramid

Architecture and Purpose of the Menkaure Pyramid - Egypt Tours Portal
Architecture and Purpose of the Menkaure Pyramid - Egypt Tours Portal

Menkaure pyramid is the shortest of all the trees as it stands at a height of 65.5 m (215 ft). The pyramid of Menkaure stands 61 m (204 ft) tall with a base of 108.5 m with an angle of 51°20′25. The Menkaure Pyramid was constructed using granite and limestone.

The first 16 courses of the exterior were made of red granite, while the upper portion was entirely cased with Tura limestone. There is a group of three satellite pyramids south of the main pyramid of Menkaure, which is accompanied by a temple and substructure and is partly encased with granite.

The pyramid's construction featured the first sixteen layers using red granite, while the upper section was encased in Tura limestone, which left some granite unfinished. The pyramid's purpose was to act as a final resting place for Pharaoh Menkaure and stands as a powerful example of the pharaoh’s reign. These incomplete elements provide valuable insights for archaeologists studying ancient construction techniques for both pyramids and temples.

How the Pyramid of Menkaure Built

How the Pyramid of Menkaure Built - Egypt Tours Portal
How the Pyramid of Menkaure Built - Egypt Tours Portal

The construction began with preparing the site of the Giza complex which is known to be the highest point in all of Cairo, then clearing the area and leveling the ground to create a solid foundation for the pyramid. Limestone blocks were quarried from an area nearby. These blocks could weigh about two tons each and were transported to the construction site. A rectangular or square base was laid out, and then the base stones were carefully placed to ensure stability. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have used a ramp system to move the massive stones into position. This could have been a straight or zigzagging ramp made of mud bricks, rubble, or limestone. The pyramid was built in steps, each layer consisting of horizontally laid limestone blocks. As the pyramid grew taller, the layers decreased in size, as seen today. Some of the tools used included levers, sleds, and possibly counterweights to position the stones accurately.

The pyramid was originally covered in smooth, polished white limestone casing stones. These outer stones were meticulously placed to create a smooth surface, which has since been removed or eroded. Some believe a solid gold top was placed at the summit of all the pyramids of Giza. The Interior of the pyramid was carefully designed to hold chambers and corridors. The main burial chamber was constructed with granite and might have contained the pharaoh's sarcophagus like the rest of the pyramid of Giza.

The Menkaure Pyramid Inside

The Menkaure Pyramid Inside - Egypt Tours Portal
The Menkaure Pyramid Inside - Egypt Tours Portal

Menkaure's pyramid construction required a well-prepared rock subsurface around the northeast corner. It was made of local limestone with pink granite casing from Aswan, the lower parts were unfinished to ensure accurate fitting without damage during installation. The entrance was about four meters above ground level, leading to descending corridors and chambers with niches. The pyramid's substructure underwent changes across three phases, suggested by investigations of related tombs, potentially enlarging the original plan. The antechamber contained an anthropoid coffin with human bones, likely inserted during later periods.

A granite corridor led to the burial chamber, oriented differently from Khufu's and Khafre's pyramids, covered entirely in pink granite with a vaulted ceiling. It's believed this chamber, along with niches, was constructed after Menkaure's death, possibly on his successor's orders. The burial chamber's west wall held a basalt sarcophagus which was lost at sea during transportation to the British Museum. No boat pits have been discovered near Menkaure's pyramid.

Coffin and Sarcophagus

In 1837, archaeologist Howard Vyse was able to find a wooden coffin carrying the name Menkaure and human bones, which were later recognized as substitutes dating to the Saite period. Through Radiocarbon dating, the bones were placed at less than 2,000 years old, suggesting a mishandling of remains or possible access to the pyramid during the ancient Roman times. The coffin lid made its way to the Great British Museum. Deeper in the pyramid, Vyse found a striking basalt sarcophagus housing the remains of a young woman. This sarcophagus sadly sank in 1838 on its way to Britain and remains one of the few Old Kingdom sarcophagi lost at sea.

The Content of the Menkaure Pyramid Complex

Content of the Menkaure Pyramid Complex - Egypt Tours Portal
Content of the Menkaure Pyramid Complex - Egypt Tours Portal

The mortuary temple of Pharaoh Menkaure was constructed with limestone foundations and an inner core that features granite floors and facings on some walls. Blocks of local stone in the temple walls weighed up to 220 tons, while imported granite ashlars from Aswan exceeded 30 tons. Menkaure's successor, Shepseskaf, likely completed the temple, as indicated by an inscription expressing dedication to his father. The temple endured subsequent architectural additions, suggesting a maintained or periodically renewed cult for the Pharaoh for two centuries after his death. The Menkaure Valley Temple was excavated, thus discovering numerous statues of Menkaure alone and in groups, crafted in the naturalistic Old Kingdom style with intricate details.

South of Menkaure's pyramid, three smaller pyramids with accompanying temples and substructures were found. The easternmost, a true pyramid with granite casing, is believed completed, while the others only reached the construction of the inner core. These structures may be tombs for Menkaure's queens or function as a ka pyramid housing a statue of the king. The presence of a pink granite sarcophagus hints at possible reuse for a queen's burial or as a chapel for Menkaure's mummification.

The Menkaure Pyramid Facts

Menkaure Pyramid Facts - Egypt Tours Portal
Menkaure Pyramid Facts - Egypt Tours Portal
  • The Pyramid of Menkaure acted as a funerary tomb, which remains a cultural and religious wonder that sheds great facts about the afterlife.
  • It is the smallest and shortest member of the pyramids of Giza.
  • The pyramid complex includes three smaller queen's pyramids and a mortuary temple.
  • The Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza.
  • It stood at around 65.5 meters (215 ft) tall. Erosion and time have reduced its height to approximately 61 meters (200 feet).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Pyramid of Menkaure the Smallest Out of the Three Pyramids?

The pyramid of Menkaure is one of the smallest pyramids of all of Egypt when compared to its predecessors due to a number of economic challenges during that 4th dynasty period which led to its small construction. It was designed to have a small base, which led to its smaller structure.

What is the Pyramid of Menkaure Made of?

The Pyramid of Menkaure is made entirely of limestone blocks from the inside and outside. The entire pyramid was then covered by Tura limestone, which has been removed with time to be used in the structures located in Cairo.

Why Was the Pyramid of Menkaure Important to Ancient Civilization?

The pyramid is very important due to a number of different factors which include acting as the funerary monument for the pharaoh's remains and possessions for the afterlife so he can easily head to the afterlife. The pyramid was a reflection of the pharaoh's power, legacy, and authority that showcased their ability to mobilize resources and labor. The pyramid is a true architectural marvel which is able to shed light on the advanced engineering and construction techniques of ancient Egypt.

What Are the Finest Destinations to Visit in Egypt?

The entire country of Egypt deserve to be explored with its every heavenly detail but there are places that must be seen before any other such as the breathtaking Hurghada's red sea, The wonders of Cairo the pyramids of Giza, the great sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, Khan El Khalili Bazaar, the wonders of Luxor like Valley of the Kings, Karnak & Hatshepsut temple and the wonders of Aswan such as Abu Simbel temples, Philea temple, Unfinished obelisk and The Wonders of Alexandria like Qaitbat Citadel, Pompey's Pillar and Alexandria Library. Read more about the best places to visit in Egypt.

What Are Egypt's Visa Requirements?

If you want to apply for a Visa On Arrival that lasts for 30 days then you should be one of the eligible countries, have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and pay 25$ USD in cash, as for the E-Visa for 30 day you should have a valid passport for at least 8 months, complete the online application, pay the e-visa fee then print the e-visa to later be presented to the airport border guard. You could also be one of the lucky ones who can obtain a free visa for 90 days. Read more about Egypt travel visa.

What Is the Top Traditional Egyptian Food?

Egypt has a variety of delicious cuisines but we recommend “Ful & Ta’meya (Fava Beans and Falafel)”, Mulukhiya, “Koshary”, a traditional Egyptian pasta dish, and Kebab & Kofta, the Egyptian traditional meat dish.

What is the Best Time to Visit Egypt?

The best time to travel to Egypt is during the winter from September to April as the climate becomes a little tropical accompanied by a magical atmosphere of warm weather with a winter breeze. You will be notified in the week of your trip if the Climate is unsafe and if any changes have been made.

What to Pack for Your Egypt Tour?

You should pack everything you could ever need in a small bag so you could move easily between your destinations.

Why Book With "Egypt Tours Portal"?

We have been creating the finest vacations for more than 20 years around the most majestic destinations in Egypt. Our staff consists of the best operators, guides and drivers who dedicate all of their time & effort to make you have the perfect vacation. All of our tours are customized by Travel, Financial & Time consultants to fit your every possible need during your vacation. It doesn't go without saying that your safety and comfort are our main priority and all of our resources will be directed to provide the finest atmosphere until you return home.

Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt?

You will feel safe in Egypt as the current atmosphere of the country is quite peaceful after the government took powerful measures like restructuring the entire tourist police to include all the important and tourist attractions in Egypt. Read more about is it safe to travel to Egypt.

What to Wear While in Egypt?

Wear whatever feels right and comfortable. It is advised to wear something light and comfortable footwear like a closed-toe shoe to sustain the terrain of Egypt. Put on sun block during your time in Egypt in the summer to protect yourself from the sun.

What are the Best Activities to Do in Egypt?

The best activity is by far boarding a Nile Cruise between Luxor and Aswan or Vise Versa. Witness the beauty of Egypt from a hot balloon or a plane and try all the delicious Egyptian cuisines and drinks plus shopping in old Cairo. Explore the allure and wonders of the red sea in the magical city resorts of Egypt like Hurghada and many more by diving and snorkeling in the marine life or Hurghada. Behold the mesmerizing western desert by a safari trip under the heavenly Egyptian skies.

What are Egypt Festival and Public Holidays?

There are a lot of public holidays in Egypt too many to count either religious or nation, the most important festivals are the holy month of Ramadan which ends with Eid Al Fitr, Christmas and new years eve. Read more about festivals & publich holidays in Egypt.

What are Special Advice for Foreign Women in Egypt?

Egypt is considered to be one of the most liberal Islamic countries but it has become a little bit conservative in the last couple of decades so it is advised to avoid showing your chest, shoulders or legs below the knees.

What are the Official Languages of Egypt?

Arabic is the official language and Most Egyptians, who live in the cities, speak or understand English or at least some English words or phrases. Fewer Egyptians can speak French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Professional tour guides, who work in the tourism sector, are equipped to handle visitors who cannot speak Arabic and they will speak enough English and other languages to fulfill the needs of all our clients.

What is the Transportation in Egypt?

The fastest way is a car, of course, a taxi. If you are in Cairo ride a white taxi to move faster or you could board the fastest way of transportation in Egypt metro if the roads are in rush hour.

What is the Weather is Like?

The temperature in Egypt ranges from 37c to 14 c. Summer in Egypt is somehow hot but sometimes it becomes cold at night and winter is cool and mild. The average of low temperatures vary from 9.5 °C in the wintertime to 23 °C in the summertime and the average high temperatures vary from 17 °C in the wintertime to 32 °C in the summertime. The temperature is moderate all along the coasts.

What are the Reasons That Make You Visit Egypt?

It is the home of everything a traveler might be looking for from amazing historical sites dating to more than 4000 years to enchanting city resorts & beaches. You will live the vacation you deserve as Egypt has everything you could possibly imagine.

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