12th Dynasty Pyramids

I decided to write this blog post about pyramids because when most people think about Ancient Egypt, they think about pyramids.  But what do we really know about the pyramids in general and specifically pyramids from the 12th and 13th Dynasty?  This post will summarize what was discussed about 12th Dynasty pyramids in Chapter 7: The Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period.  “Amenemhat I was the first king of the Middle Kingdom to build a pyramid as his tomb” and have a base line of 84 meters (182).  This pyramid was built at Lisht, on a terrace, and has mastaba tombs to the east with a bunch of tomb shafts for royal women to the west.  The tomb shafts reserved for royal women are a development that has been seen in earlier royal tombs at Thebes.  The main materials used for Amenemhat’s pyramid were locally quarried blocks, mud-brick and loose debris as well as stones from Old Kingdom pyramids.  The main burial chamber and valley temple were built below the water table, which makes it almost impossible to examine and excavate.

Also at Lisht, there is a larger pyramid, which is where Senusret I, Amenemhat I’s son, is buried.  This pyramid has a base line of 105 meters and was constructed with internal reinforcing walls consisting of limestone from quarries to the south, southest, and southwest of the pyramid.  Senusret I’s pyramid consists of four thick walls but still suffers from construction problems have weakened the structure and is now a small mount of stone and rubble.

Later 12th Dynasty pyramids were built farther south, as Dahsgur and Hawara.  For example, Amenemhat II’s pyramid was built in this location was was not preserved well because sand was used as fill.  When the interior limestone walls made of limestone were robbed for use in later construction, the structure collapsed.  The last 12th Dynasty pyramid that will be discussed in this blog post is Senusret III’s pyramid.  Senusret III, who is also known as the great builder of the 12th Dynasty, chose Sahshur as the site of his pyramid.  With a base line of 105 meters, similar to Senuret I’s pyramid, the structure was made of mud-brick, encased in Tura limestone and had an unusual entrance on the west side of the oyramid.  The burial chamber was lined in granite, contained a granite sarcophagus and had a second roof to relieve stress in the structure.  However, there is no evidence that that Senusret III was actually buried in this pyramid or at a Abydos site.

In conclusion, by looking at how the pyramids have changed throughout the 12th dynasty, we can see how see how the architecture of pyramids have progressed.  The materials, architecture and location considered when building a pyramid have changed throughout the 12th dynasty.  Although before taking this class I was really interested in learning more about the culture of ancient Egyptians, after taking a few weeks of this course, I am now more interested in learning more about what can be learned about pyramids through archaeological excavations.


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About dovialli

Hey everybody! My name is Allison and I am from Fairfax Station, VA. I am graduating from Michigan State University this summer with a BS in Psychology and an additional major in Anthropology. Woot woot! Then, I'm off to Texas to get my PhD in School Psychology from University of Houston!

1 thought on “12th Dynasty Pyramids

  1. I am not sure that you can use the pyramids as an example of architectural growth and change. The progression of pyramids had taken a step backwards in the Middle Kingdom because of a shift in what was considered important. The Egyptians no longer allowed the pharaohs to build huge and expensive pyramids, which is why they are not as grand as the earlier pyramids were. Other interests took precedent economically over the pharaoh’s tombs. This is why the Middle Kingdom pyramids were smaller and not as well constructed as Old Kingdom pyramids and also why there are only seven built during this period.

    I do think that we can use the Middle Kingdom pyramids as a reference point to the political and social structures of this period. The pyramids were a status symbol for the pharaohs and a way for them to show their power. Using this logic, if the pyramids are smaller and of poorer quality, then the pharaoh’s power must also be weakening. This gives us an interesting visual reference to what must have been going on. I would like to think that as the monarch’s power waned, the people’s power grew. I know that this is probably not true, that other men just took over more control, but it would be nice if that was how it worked.

    I do think that it is sad that because of poor construction the Middle Kingdom pyramids are falling apart. Using sand as filler and smaller, lower quality, bricks made it so that, while the Old Kingdom pyramids still stand in almost perfect condition today, the pyramids from the Middle Kingdom are falling apart. This makes it harder for archeologists to study them and destroyed the design and probably some useful information. Also, probably because of a diminishing respect for the pharaoh as a divine figure, Egyptians were not as opposed to looting these tombs. We know this because of the extra infrastructure that was built around the Middle Kingdom tombs. These stolen grave goods are a big loss to modern archeologists since they are no longer available for study.

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