The History of Menkaure

After lecture today covering the Pyramids of Giza I instantly knew what the topic of my blog post was going to consist of. The Pyramid of Menkaure caught my attention and guided me towards wanting to learn more about it. Located in the Giza Plateau in the southwestern area of Cairo, Egypt. The reason for which it was built being to house the mummified remains of the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Menkaure.

The smallest of the three pyramids, Menkaure, stands at 215 feet tall. Slow deterioration has lead it to shrink 11 feet. Constructed of granite, the upper portion cased in Tura limestone with the bottom granite portion being left exposed to the environment. The pyramids date of construction is unknown due to Menkaure’s reign never being able to accurately be depicted. The relative date it was believed to be completed was the 26th century BC.

Looking deeper into the history of Menkaure’s pyramid, I found this the most intriguing aspect. At the end of the 12th century al-Malek al-Aziz Othman ben Yusuf attempted to demolish the Pyramids of Giza beginning with Menkaure’s pyramid. Their attempt was found to be extremely difficulty, the workers they recruited were unable to remove more than one or two stones each day of work. They used wedges and levers while others used ropes to pull them down. The wedges were used to split the stones into pieces making them easier to remove. The efforts to take it down merely left it with a large vertical crease spoiling the face of the pyramid. I found this as insulting to the reign of Menkaure and a defiling of one of the greatest architectural constructions of the world.

2 thoughts on “The History of Menkaure

  1. I really liked reading this blog post, nice work! I agree, Egyptian culture has always struck quite a fascination in myself as well! When I was younger, I loved learning about mummification and the pyramids. I’ve always wanted to travel to Egypt to learn about these things first hand and view the amazing structures. You can look at countless pictures and read multiple passages about the pyramids, but you actually see them in real life, to be able to take a good, hard look at their craftsmanship…how amazing would that be? Another thing I thought was really cool was what the Pharaoh’s were buried with when they passed. They were buried with everything from their pets to even their servants! When we turned to this topic in class the other day, I was really excited! It’s most fascinating. You pointed out some very interesting information about the attempted destruction of the pyramids; it really makes you wonder more about the actual construction of the pyramids themselves. Obviously, the tasks were laborious (although I think it’s really neat that we learned that building the pyramids was a task, a service, to give back to society) but the actual quality and craftsmanship that went into the work is amazing, and a true wonder. The degradation of the pyramids in most recent years kind of worries me; will they stick around forever, or do we only have an allotted amount of time to travel and see these wonders? I hope one day to be able to see them before the inevitable pollution destruction currently taking place.

  2. I am also fascinated by ancient Egyptian history. I used to go to my local library and check out books about the pyramids and mummification. When you said that ben Yusuf tried to demolish the pyramids that really caught my attention. I was wondering why he would want to do that. Did you ever find out why they would want the pyramids destroyed? I tried but had no success in finding out anything that was not already in your post. Egyptian history has always fascinated me…I guess I have been struck by Egyptomania like professor said during lecture. I actually used to dream of becoming an Egyptologist and that was fueled further after I watched the Mummy. The pyramids are a great preservation of the marvel of this culture. It is amazing that they were able to perform such precision in the construction of the pyramids during such ancient times. They certainly had no Caterpillar construction equipment to aid them. The pharaohs went through such great lengths to ensure a safe passage to the afterlife. I wish I could travel back in time so see the construction of one of the pyramids. I want to know exactly how they completed a task that seems impossible for the times. The pyramids and ancient Egypt will always hold a special place in my heart which is partly what motivated me to take this class because I figured the pyramids would be featured. They are definitely one of the greatest (and largest) discoveries in archaeology.

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