Egypt’s Other Pyramids and the Evolution of the ‘Modern’ Pyramid

 The Step Pyramid in Saqqara, EgyptMost people have heard of Egypt’s Pyramids – However, when most people think of egyptian pyramids, they think of the Great Pyramids of Giza. These three giant monuments have stood as symbol of Egypt for as long as people have been traveling and they have attracted thousands upond thousands of tourists to the outskirts of Cairo for a camel ride through the small desert. 

However, aside from these wonders of the world, there are actually about 130 OTHER  pyramids that have been discovered in Egypt – many of which predate the famous threesome.

The Step Pyramid in Saqqara, Egypt

The most famous of these other Pyramids is the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, (Also known as the Pyramid of Djoser) located near the city of Cairo.  It’s probably pretty obvious why it’s call the “Step Pyramid” but I’ll clue you in anyways: its the steps: 5 that are visible and a 6th buried below the sand.

The interesting part of these older pyramids is that they are living breathing (okay neither of those things) examples of how pyramid building evolved in Ancient Egypt. The first pyramids were all step pyramids. Those pyramids evolved out of earlier burial areas that resembled the step pyramid except with only one step. As Pharaohs competed to have more and more grandiose tombs, additional steps were added until the pyramid was born.

The Step Pyramid of Saqqara

During a visit to the Step Pyramid, its possible to see other Pyramids in the distance which also speak to the evolution of the “modern” (and by modern I meant ancient) pyramid.

Sloped Pyramid in Egypt, The Shining Pyramid

The "Bent" Or "Sloped" pyramid of Sneferu (on the Left)

After the step pyramid became popular, later Pharaohs looked for ways to distinguish their own tombs from their predecessors. To this end, the Pharroh Sneferu devised the smooth pyramid, which would remove the “steps.” 

This would have been the first pyramid of this kind if it weren’t for some bumps the Egyptians hit during construction. After starting a significantly steeper angle, cracks were found in the foundation and builders were forced to switch to a gentler slope halfway through.  Because of this change the pyramid has a “bent” look which makes it easy to spot on the horizon. All future pyramids with be built with this new angle.

A sloped Pyramid


This brings us to the Pyramids of Giza – which were created using the lessons learned during past pyramid construction. Although these flawless pyramids still stand today and are no doubt hugely majestic they did have one major flaw: they were a little too majestic. They were all robbed.

The Egyptians soon learned that the Pyramids were actually acting like huge “Please Rob Me!” signs planted right above the riches stowed in the tombs. This realization led to the next evolution of the pyramid – the hidden pyramid.

Nothing to see here....

The hidden pyramid is basically exactly the same as any other pyramid except it’s buried under layers of sand and dirt.  Desert Camouflage. Although it may not seem effective, this new method actually did preserve the tombs from robbers for thousands of years until they were discovered by archaeologists using modern x ray technology.

Hidden Pyramid

It’s a shame many visitors to Egypt only see the most famous Pyramids. Not only do these other pyramids offer a great insight into the history of Ancient Egypt, they are also easily accessible form Cairo, less crowded and it is possible to enter several of them for tours of the tomb.

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