http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/prop ... u_2011.pdf
THE PYRAMID COMPLEX OF MENKAURA
The pyramid complex of Menkaura differs from the complexes of
Khufu and Khafra in many ways. It was not finished during the reign of
Menkaura, but was instead completed by his son and successor, Shepseskaf. Other architectural additions were made during the 5th and 6th
Dynasties. And, intact artifacts from various periods were found in the
upper and lower temples and the chapels of the subsidiary pyramids.
Petrie discussed the various components of the Menkaura pyramid
complex, such as the pyramid, the upper temple and subsidiary pyramids.
Vyse conducted excavations in the upper temple in 1837 and Reisner began
his systematic excavations in the area of the third pyramid in 1906.
The lower temple of Menkaura lies southwest of Khafra's lower tem
ple, near the modern cemetery for the village of Nazlet el-Samman. It was
completely covered by sand until 1908, when it was excavated by Reisner.
The temple is well preserved and its development over the course of the
Old Kingdom can be traced. It appears that, as in the upper temple, the
foundations and several courses of some of the walls of the lower temple,
were laid in limestone by Menkaura. The temple was then finished in mudbrick by Shepseskaf according to Menkaura's original plan. At some point,
apparently the end of the 5th Dynasty, the western part of the temple,
which was completely of mud-brick, was destroyed by a flood. A new tem
ple was built above the ruins of the old and it is thought that this occurred at
the beginning of the 6th Dynasty. The Menkaura cult was maintained in the
temple through the 6th Dynasty reign of Pepi I I .
1 4 1
There are other important structures found around the pyramid com
plex of Menkaura, such a s:
I. The Lower Temple Settlement
II. The Ante-Temple, and
III. The Purification Tent and Other Structures.
I. THE LOWER TEMPLE SETTLEMENT
The lower temple settlement consist of Old Kingdom houses found in
the central court and in the area just east of Menkaura's lower temple.
These houses were built of mud brick and some of the rooms had stone
thresholds and wooden roofs. The decree of Pepi II, found in the vestibule
of the ante-temple, indicates that these houses belonged to the pyramid city
Reisner believes that the city inside the temple was first built in the
time of Shepseskaf and then occupied by priests throughout the remainder
of the Old Kingdom.
II. THE ANTE-TEMPLE
The area of the so-called ante-temple which adjoins the east side of
the lower temple was excavated in part by Hassan and in part by Reisner.
Reisner excavated about 7.5 m. to the south of the lower temple and
found some houses that he assigned to the pyramid city of the lower tem
ple. Hassan excavated about 10 m. on the north side of this area and found a
small temple that he labeled the valley temple of Queen Khentkawes.
The structure uncovered by Hassan is built against Menkaura's lower
temple. It is entered from the north and consists of a square room with four
pillars and several odd shaped chambe r s .
1 4 3
It is now generally accepted that this area has no connection to
Khentkawes, but instead forms an ante-temple to the lower temple of
Menkaura, probably of 5th or 6th Dynasty date. The artifacts found inside
support this identification, as they are very similar to the objects found
inside the lower temple. The connection is further strengthened by the
existence of the paved path leading from the eastern entrance of the lower
temple to the southern entrance of the ante-temple and built after the 4th
III. THE PURIFICATION TENT AND OTHER STRUCTURES
An unusual structure is located by the northeast corner of Menkaura's
lower temple. It was labeled the purification tent by Hassan. This structure
is made of mudbrick. It is rectangular in form and measures about 6.05 m.
east to west and 3.10 m. north to south. There is a platform of mudbrick
against the middle of the south wall and a small bench lies beside this
platform. A drain was cut into the rock of the floor of the so-called purifica
tion tent. This runs for about 7.20 m. and connects with the basin north of
the building. The purification tent was covered with limestone s l abs .
1 4 5
second structure found in the area is a large rectangular basin which is
connected to the purification tent by the aforementioned drain. Hassan also
indicated that there was a wall located west of the platform of the lower
About 73 m. south of the causeway of Menkaura, Saleh discovered a
very interesting structure that is not paralleled in any other Old Kingdom
pyramid complex. This construction consists of a long, narrow wall founda
tion in the shape of a reversed " L" and a second, shorter foundation north
west of the first. The two foundations were built of stone rubble mixed with
mortar. Saleh labels these "foundation embankments" and suggests that
they were part of ramps used to transport blocks to building s i t e s .
1 4 6
The pottery found in the area dates the ' 'foundation embankments'' to
the Old Kingdom. This dating is supported by similar embankments found
near Khufu's pyramid as well as blocks of granite and alabaster found in the
area, which are typical Old Kingdom materials.
It seems most likely that the foundation embankments are associated
with Menkaura's cult. This is indicated by its proximity to Menkaura's
causeway, and the construction techniques used in the building, including
the thickness of the wall and the size of the bricks, which parallel the
techniques used in the pyramid city of Menkaura.