An Egyptian pyramid is an ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structure located in Egypt.
Pyramids were initially built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts, starting with the Step Pyramid of Saqqara around 2667 BCE, which was designed by the polymath Imhotep to serve as a tomb for the Third Dynasty pharaoh Djoser. They have since gone on to become the most iconic symbols of Ancient Egyptian culture.
In Egypt, pyramids were built separate from areas of human habitation, atop cliffs or plateaus on the west bank of the Nile. Although as time went on and dynasties came and went, abandoned pyramids and their surrounding structures became attractive areas for bandits to set up base.
They were initially built of rough limestone before being faced in fine white limestone that would be polished to give them a flawless appearance. Later pyramids began to use granite in their outer casings at their base. A true pyramid was always topped with a pyramidion upon completion and these were often made of granite or limestone and sometimes inscribed with royal titles and religious texts and in some instances even gilded.
In chronological order:
- Pyramid of Djoser - Third Dynasty
- Meidum Pyramid - Fourth Dynasty
- Bent Pyramid - Fourth Dynasty
- Red Pyramid - Fourth Dynasty
- Great Pyramid of Giza - Fourth Dynasty
- Pyramid of Khafre - Fourth Dynasty
- Pyramid of Menkaure - Fourth Dynasty
- Pyramid of Amenemhat III - Twelfth Dynasty
The pyramids themselves formed the core of a larger complex that would often include an enclosure wall, funerary temple and sometimes a causeway that would link the complex to a valley temple by the river Nile. Some pyramids also possess what are known as satellite pyramids. A satellite pyramid is any small pyramid that belongs to the mortuary complex of a larger 'parent' pyramid.