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The Pyramid of Hawara

The Pyramid of Hawara was made for Amenemhet III of the 12th Dynasty in ancient Egypt and is located about 9 kilometers east of the oasis of Faiyoum. Amenemhet III  was  the sixth Pharaoh of the 12th dynasty of the Old Kingdom and reigned around 1850 B.C.

 

The Pyramid of Hawara was built out of brick stones and then coated by limestone. It is sometimes called the Black Pyramid. When it was still standing, the Pyramid of Hawara was a large structure that was 58 meters high and each side of the base of the pyramid was around 100 meters long.

 

hawara

 

The Village Of Hawara

 

The village of Hawara is located 9 kilometers to the South East of the city of El Fayoum, one of the most wonderful destinations in Egypt. The village is situated around 100 kilometers southeast of Cairo and has been known since ancient times when it was called Hat Wa'art, which means "the footsteps." Afterward it was named Laprincess and some historians believe that this name was originally derived from the name of the Temple of Amenmehat III in Hawara, the "Laprent" or "the temple located at the outlet of the lake."

 

Archeologists were able to unearth some of the most wonderful portraits in Hawara, which are famous now for being called "the Portraits of the Fayoum". These are 146 portraits of different people drawn with paint and they date from the 1st to the 3rd centuries A.D.

 

About Amenmehat III

 

King Amenmehat III ruled Egypt in the 19th century B.C. and built the Pyramid of Hawara. He was the son of King Sesostris III who had made great achievements during his reign like achieving peaceful political conditions with the neighboring countries located to the north and east of Egypt. Sesostris III also managed to get Nubia, located to the south, fully under Egyptian control.

 

Because of all these achievements and successful military operations, Sesostris was able to hand Amenmehat III, his son and successor a powerful kingdom and empowering Amenmehat III to continue the achievements of his father and continue ruling a largely stable kingdom.

 

Amenmehat III's Reign

 

Amenmehat remained as the king of Egypt for around 45 years and he followed in the footsteps initiated by his precursors of the 12th dynasty. This included the improvement of the economic conditions of Egypt and increasing the amount of the cultivated land. In fact, Amenmehat III was able to add 17,000 acres to the area of land being planted in the Fayoum area by making use of a large section of the huge Qarun Lake at the time.

 

Being fond of the Fayoum and the area around, the same as many of his forbears, Amenmehat III had many construction projects erected in the region like his pyramid and mortuary temple in Hawara, and some sections of the Temple of Madinat Madi which was dedicated to the god Sobek.

 

Amenmehat III was also interested in mining for different materials that would assist him in his constructions. This was why the mining activities of turquoise in Sinai greatly flourished throughout his ruling period and he also had some additions constructed in the Temple of the goddess Hathour in Serbet El Khadim in Sinai.

 

The tomb of the favorite wife of Amenmehat III, that was called Aat, was unearthed near his pyramid in Dahshur that was constructed before his other achievements in the Fayoum. As a matter of fact, the king was never pleased with his pyramid in Dahshur as it has obstacles and faults that occurred during the building process of the pyramid and this was why he guided his efforts, money, and time to the Pyramid of Hawara.

 

The Construction of the Pyramid of Hawara

 

After his failed attempt in Dahshur, Amenmehat III, wanted to make sure his new pyramid in Hawara would never fall down and this was why the engineers constructed it with a much lower angle than the other pyramid in Dahshur. There was a smaller pyramid located on top of the original pyramid and the lower plan and design of the Pyramid of Hawara was very complicated and maybe it was influenced by the design of the step Pyramid of Saqqara that was built early in the beginning of the period of the Old Kingdom.

 

The first feature of the Pyramid of Hawara that was different than the previous pyramids constructed before it during the period of the Old Kingdom was that Amenmehat III made the entrance to his pyramid in the Southern section, other than what was followed beforehand, that the entrance would be in the Northern section of the pyramids.

 

This was an intelligent idea by the King in order to mislead any thieves who would want to rob the items put inside the pyramid. Moreover, Amenmehat III constructed a long staircase that leads the thieves to a small room that they would think it was the burial chamber, while the burial chamber was entered through a narrow short passageway located on the ground. This passageway was blocked by a large stone that weighs more than 45 tons.

 

To delude the thieves, that were common during this period of time, the entrance to the pyramid of Hawara was designed in the western section of the pyramid and it leads to the first room of the pyramid. Afterward, one finds himself in a passageway that leads to nothing at the very end.

 

A hidden opening in the ceiling gives way to another passageway that runs in different directions; to the east, the north, and then finally to the West, making it even more difficult to reach the antechamber that enables the passer to enter the burial chamber at last.

 

The Design of the Pyramid of Hawara

 

The burial chamber of the Pyramid of Hawara was cut out of rock in the very beginning in the shape of a rectangle, then a large single piece of quartzite was put inside the cavity of the burial chamber. At the end of the building process, this piece of quartzite was very carefully removed to construct the burial chamber, the most important section of any pyramid of tomb in ancient Egypt. This allowed it to become a room with four walls, with each wall being half a meter thick, seven meters high, and two meters and a half wide.

 

In spite of all these precautions carried out by Amenmehat III to protect his pyramid at Hawara, the thieves were able to enter the burial chamber through an opening in the ceiling and plunder all the valuable and important items that the priests had put inside it.

 

The Pyramid of Hawara was constructed with the sarcophagus of the King, made out of quartzite as well, positioned inside the burial chamber. Three blocks of stones were put on top of the large stone that was used to close the opening that leads to the burial chamber and the whole pyramid was constructed over these stones. The inner passageways of the pyramid were built and designed in a fascinating artistic style to deceive the thieves that professionalized in stealing the gold and jewelry that were buried with the kings and queens of ancient Egypt. However, with the engineers of the Pharaohs creating new ideas and way to defend the pyramids they design, the thieves had improved their skills and were able to take all the items put in the burial chamber.

 

The Tomb Of Nefruptah

 

Located near the Pyramid of Hawara, one and a half kilometer to the North of the pyramid there is the tomb of princess Nefruptah, the daughter of King Amenmehat III. It was constructed out of limestone and it used to contain a granite sarcophagus that was transferred to the Egyptian Antiquities Authority.

 

When the favorite daughter of king Amenmehat III, Nefruptah, passed away, a beautiful sarcophagus was made for her and it was positioned inside the pyramid of the king in Hawara which is a contradiction to the habits of the kings and royal family of ancient Egypt as they used to put the sarcophagus of the king only in the burial chamber of his pyramid. Archeologists were able to find an offerings table, three utensils made out of silver, and a necklace that belonged to the princess Nefruptah, inside her tomb near the Pyramid of Hawara.

 

The Mortuary Temple Of Amenmehat III

 

Beside the Pyramid of Hawara there are also the ruins of the Mortuary Temple of Amenmehat III. The temple was attached to the pyramid when they were first constructed. This temple used to contain 12 halls with ceilings, with six of them positioned to the north and the other six positioned to the south. The Mortuary Temple of Amenmehat III used to have a large fortified wall and it used to contain more than 300 different rooms and chambers, with half of them located under the ground and they hosted the mausoleum of the king. The rest of the rooms were situated above the ground.

 

Nothing remains of this structure today except the pillars of the ground floor while the underground floor has not yet been excavated.

 

Click on the picture below to enlarge:

 

 

 

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