Pyramid Complex at Giza



The last king to have built a pyramid at Giza was Mykerinos, the son of Khefren, who seems to have come to power after a short interregnum by the ephemeral king Bakare.

The pyramid of Mykerinos was built on the edge of the same rock formation that had also served as foundation for the pyramids of Kheops and Khefren. This did not leave enough room for Mykerinos to build his monument on a grand scale, which, at least in part, explains why his pyramid is significantly smaller than that of his two ancestors.
Another factor that played an important part in the downsizing of the royal pyramids after Khefren, may have been the fact that the mortuary and valley temples' sizes increased and used more expensive materials, and the fact that the building activity of a king was limited less and less to the building of his own funerary complex in favour of building temples for the gods.

The top of Mykerinos' pyramid does not lie in the same diagonal that was created by the tops of the two other pyramids at Giza. The southeast corners of all three pyramids, however, form a straight line which is believed to point at the temple of Heliopolis on the Nile's east bank.


Mykerinos' funerary complex was hastily completed by his successor, Shepseskaf. With an 18-year long reign, which is only 5 to 10 years less than the reigns of Kheops and Khefren, and a pyramid complex that is substantially smaller than those of his two ancestors, Mykerinos should have had enough time to finish his monument. This has led to the belief that the completion of a funerary complex may have been part of the burial rituals. 

Interactive map of the Pyramid Complex of Mykerinos at Giza. Hover over the image and click or tap the little circles to learn more about this complex.
Source: Lehner, Complete Pyramids, p. 137.

Almost all the elements that had already become traditional in the building of a pyramid complex, are also present here. A Valley Temple, located at the mouth of the main wadi, connects via a causeway leading west to the mortuary temple where the deceased king's funerary cult would be held.

The mortuary temple connects with and enclosure wall that surrounds the actual pyramid. 

Mykerinos' pyramid at Giza, casting its noon shadow on Khefren's in the background.

Mykerinos' pyramid at Giza, casting its noon shadow on Khefren's in the background.

Outside the enclosure wall, to the south, there are three Queens' pyramids. The most eastern of these three pyramids, the only one to be truly pyramid shaped, was probably started as a satellite pyramid, but was converted for the burial of one of Mykerinos' queens later on. All three pyramids had small mudbrick chapels and most likely received a burial. Only in the middle pyramid, the body of an unidentified young woman was found.

Click on the thumbnails below to learn more about Mykerinos' funerary complex.

© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017