Ancient Egypt Pyramids Texts

The Pyramid Texts were funerary inscriptions that were written on the walls of the early Ancient Egyptian pyramids at Sakkara. These date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties, approximately the years 2350-2175 B.C.E. However, because of extensive internal evidence, it is believed that they were composed much earlier, circa 3000 B.C.E. The Pyramid Texts are, therefore, essentially the oldest sacred texts known.

Samuel Mercer was the first to produce a complete English translation of this mysterious text, in 1952. This was also the first complete translation in any language. The Mercer translation was followed by the R.O. Faulkner translation in 1969, which is considered the standard today. However, this does not diminish the usefulness of Mercer’s version, particularly because it has fallen into the public domain and is now available freely online here at sacred-texts, the first complete version of the Pyramid Texts on the Interent. PRODUCTION NOTES: The four volume edition from which this was scanned is today very rare and sells for upwards of $800 on the used market. This etext is the complete text of volume one of this set, and includes the complete Mercer translation of the Pyramid Texts. Volumes 2-4 are commentary by Mercer and others. I do not currently plan to scan the remaining volumes.

I believe that this work is in the public domain in the United States. It will not be in the public domain in the UK or EU until 2022. Here are the facts. Mercer, a Canadian by birth, published this work in 1952. It was published simultaneously in the United States and Canada. Samuel Mercer died on January 12, 1969 at the age of 89. By US copyright law at the time, the copyright should have been registered at the US copyright office in 1952 and renewed in 1980. However there is no evidence that this is the case, based on an extensive search of the online US Copyright Office database. The GATT restoral of 1/1/1996 restored copyrights on foreign works which were not registered properly in the US; however, this does not apply to works simultaneously published in the US and abroad.

–John Bruno Hare, June 2, 2004

Converging Pyramids

The Pyramids were not laid out willy-nilly on the Giza Plateau. Each side of each of the three Pyramids lines up precisely east-west or north-south. It’s a bit of a mystery how the ancients achieved such a perfect alignment, considering they did not have the magnetic compass at their disposal. The Pyramids’ proportions are just as exacting. For example, the difference between the Great Pyramid’s longest and shortest sides, which average 755.5 feet along the base, is but seven inches.

Khafre pyramid from its southwest corner Each of the Pyramids is perfectly proportioned. This is the Khafre Pyramid from its southwest corner.

As you scroll along this image, which was shot from the desert a few miles south of the Pyramids, notice how the three structures—those of Menkaure, his father Khafre, and his grandfather Khufu—line up perfectly along their righthand edges.

Camel and driver Camel and driver pose far out in the desert.

The Great Sphinx of Giza

(click and drag in image, left or right)

The most enigmatic of sculptures, the Sphinx was carved from a single block of limestone left over in the quarry used to build the Pyramids. Scholars believe it was sculpted about 4,600 years ago by the pharaoh Khafre, whose Pyramid rises directly behind it and whose face may be that represented on the Sphinx.

Sphinx The Sphinx from the rear, gazing down on Cairo.

Half human, half lion, the Sphinx is 240 feet long and 66 feet high. Badly eroded, it has undergone numerous restorations over the millennia, beginning with one conducted about 1400 B.C. by the pharaoh Tuthmosis IV, who dreamt that the Sphinx asked him to clear the sand around it in return for the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The Sphinx has recently undergone a major modern restoration.

Sphinx The so-called “dream stela” of Tuthmosis IV, which the pharaoh placed between the Sphinx’s paws about 1400 B.C.

In this 180° image, as you “walk” around the Sphinx from its left side to its right, watch the sunrise first strike the top of the Khafre Pyramid in the background, then light up the Sphinx itself. To get a sense of the sheer size of the sculpture, keep an eye out, too, for the man standing below it.

Khafre’s Inside Story

Khafre's pyramidKhafre, who was the son of Khufu, was also known as Rakhaef or Chephren. He ruled from 2520 – 2494 B.C. and is responsible for the second largest pyramid complex at Giza, which includes the Sphinx, a Mortuary Temple, and a Valley Temple. The most distinctive feature of Khafre’s Pyramid is the topmost layer of smooth stones that are the only remaining casing stones on a Giza Pyramid. Continue reading Khafre’s Inside Story

Report of Egypt Pyramids

by Mark Lehner


General overview of site Our 1997 excavation season of the Koch-Ludwig Giza Plateau Mapping Project drew to a close on March 29, 1997. For a very successful season, we are grateful to Dr. Ali Hassan, President of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Dr. Zahi Hawass, Director General of Giza and Saqqara, for their cooperation in making our work possible. We thank Mr. Sabry Abd al-Aziz, Director of Giza for his kind assistance. We are grateful to Mr. Mansour Radwan, Senior Inspector, and to Mr. Ashraf Mahmoud, who represented the Supreme Council of Antiquities at the excavation site. We would like to thank Mr. Hisham Nasser and Ms. Abir Sayed who served as our inspectors in the storeroom. We would also like to thank the American Research Center in Egypt, especially Amira Khattab and Amir Hassan.
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Egyptian Pyramids

Pyramids at Giza
The pyramids on the Giza Plateau near Cairo. At far right is the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), in the middle and closer is the pyramid of Khafre (Chephren), and on left is the smallest of the three major Giza pyramids – that of Menkaure (Mycerinus). Three small subsidiary pyramids are at the extreme left. The photograph is a montage by Mark Rigby taken from a rocky outcrop to the southeast.

Continue reading Egyptian Pyramids