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Giza's 4th Pyramid

Giza - The Places

The Mortuary Complex for Queen Khentkaus I

The last Royal Monument built at the Giza Necropolis

Who was she?
As far as Egyptologists know, Queen Khentkaus I was the daughter of Pharaoh Menkaure and Queen Khamerernebty II, she was born in the 4th Dynasty as a high-born Princess. Her brother and later husband was Pharaoh Shepseskaf. When he died ending the 4th Dynasty, she married Pharaoh Userkaf, the founder of the 5th Dynasty. Her son became Pharaoh Sahure. At some point in her life she took the Title of Pharaoh, probably as a Regent for her son rather than as Pharaoh in her own right.

Her Titles are thought to have comprised of:

  • King’s Mother; this Title is not in doubt
  • Mother of Two Dual Kings OR  Dual King and Mother of a Dual King; disputed depending on interpretation
  • King of Upper and Lower Egypt

 

What did her Mortuary Complex consist of?

  • Her Valley Temple;
  • A Pyramid Town;
  • A Causeway;
  • Her Mortuary Chapel or Temple;
  • Her Main Mastaba then Pyramid, known as LG100;
  • A Boat Pit

The Valley Temple

Lying adjacent to her father’s Valley Temple it was partially constructed out of mud bricks and only finished with the higher valued White Limestone and Alabaster stone. Very unusually, the Entrance is on the North side of the Temple; a wide walkway which was brick-paved open into a Courtyard which measured 10.5m by 9.9m, further rooms were used for storage.

 

Purification Chamber

Known as the “Washing Tent” this location was the place where Queen Khentkaus’ body was bought for Purification before being moved on to its Mummification. Found adjacent to the Valley Temple and measured 6.05m by 3.1m, it had a sloped White Limestone drain which was carved into the Bedrock Floor for 7.2m where it concluded and drain into a large Basin. This is one of the oldest subterranean water channels in Egypt.

 

Pyramid Town

To the east of the Pyramid itself and alongside the Causeway of the Complex lies what has been dubbed the, “Pyramid Town”. Raw mudbrick constructed groups of 2 bedroomed Houses which are specifically laid out along a street setting, each having their own storage and granaries are thought to have belonged to the Priests and Servers who worked within the Queen’s Pyramid Complex for her Mortuary Cult and potentially that of her father’s. Its boundaries were inside Perimeter Walls which ran East for 104m and then South for 43m.

 

Causeway

Moving up towards the Pyramid is the Causeway as the walkway connecting the bottom and top of the Mortuary Complex. Egyptologists understand that it was originally a covered Corridor which had 3 parallel walls with a width of at least 5m between them to allow for access.

 

Mortuary Chapel

At the end of the Causeway was found a large Pink Granite entrance to the Queen’s Mortuary Chapel which was engraved with her Names and Titles. This led into a White Tura Limestone paved main Hall and the Inner Sanctum of the Temple. The Inner Sanctum held 3 Niches for her Cult Worship and was lined with Limestone and decorated with Reliefs which are now badly damaged. The entrance to the main Hall was via a Black Granite doorway. Once inside the Hall had 2 False Doors in its West Wall made out of Pink Granite.  Behind one of these doors is the beginning of the Corridor into the Tomb of Queen Khentkaus I.

 

Mastaba then Pyramid: the Tomb LG100

Queen Khentkaus I appears to have ordered the beginning of the constructions of her Mastaba at Giza during 4th Dynasty. This consisted of a base of squared bedrock at a heigh of 10m and a base of 45.8m by 45.5m, it was encased with white Tura Limestone.

She enlarged this during the 5th Dynasty to include a second step constructed from Limestone Blocks at a height of 7m and with a base of 28.5m by 21m.

This totalled the height of the Pyramid at 17.5m, with a slope of 74 degrees and a volume of 6,372m cubed

Internally: to get inside the Tomb, the access point was a Corridor which was lined with Red Granite and is located in the Chapel via the floor which descends for 5.6m. It leads into the Antechamber and then the Burial Chamber which is almost identical to the Burial Chamber at Saqqara of Pharaoh Shepseskaf. For more information about Pharaoh’s Burial, please click here. 

The Burial Chamber is thought, due to the remains of pieces of it, to have contained an Alabaster Sarcophagus for the Queen’s body; a shelf in its North Wall for the Queen’s Canopic Jars and a Niche in its South Wall.

The Tomb has 6 storage rooms each of approx. 1.5m long, 1m wide and 1.4m high.

 

Boat Pit

Found South-West of the Main Pyramid, Queen Khentkaus I’s Solar Boat Pit measured 30.25m long by 4.25m deep and appears to have contained the Night Boat of Ra. This usually means that that there is a Day Boat waiting to be found!