The Pyramid of Hawara, located about 9 kilometers east of the oasis of Faiyoum, was built for Amenemhet III of the 12th Dynasty in ancient Egypt. Amenemhet III was the sixth Pharaoh of the Old Kingdom’s 12th dynasty, reigning circa 1850 B.C.
The Hawara Pyramid was constructed of brick stones that were subsequently covered in limestone. It is also known as the Black Pyramid. The Pyramid of Hawara was a massive building that was 58 meters high and 100 meters long on each side of the pyramid’s base when it was still intact.
The Village Of Hawara
The town of Hawara is located 9 kilometers southeast of El Fayoum, one of Egypt’s most beautiful places. The settlement is around 100 kilometers southeast of Cairo and has been known since ancient times under the name Hat Wa’art, which means “the footprints.” It was later Laprincess, and some historians think that this name was taken from the name of Amenmehat III’s Temple in Hawara, the “Laprent,” or “the temple placed at the lake’s outlet.” Archeologists discovered some of the most beautiful portraits in Hawara, which are now known as “the Portraits of the Fayoum.” These are 146 painted portraits of various persons dating from the first to third century A.D.
About King Amenmehat III
In the nineteenth century B.C., King Amenmehat III ruled Egypt and erected the Pyramid of Hawara. He was the son of King Sesostris III, who achieved tremendous things during his reigns, such as establishing harmonious political relations with Egypt’s neighbors to the north and east. Sesostris III also succeeded in bringing Nubia, lying to the south, completely under Egyptian rule. Because of all of his successes and successful military operations, Sesostris was able to give over a powerful kingdom to Amenmehat III, his son, and his successor, permitting Amenmehat III to continue his father’s achievements and rule a generally stable country.
Amenmehat III’s Reign
Amenmehat reigned over Egypt for about 45 years, following in the footsteps of his 12th dynasty forefathers. This included improving Egypt’s economy and expanding the quantity of cultivated land. In fact, by utilizing a big piece of the massive Qarun Lake of the time, Amenmehat III was able to add 17,000 acres to the extent of land being planted in the Fayoum region. Amenmehat III, like many of his forefathers, had various construction projects constructed in the region, such as his pyramid and funerary temple at Hawara, and certain portions of the Temple of Madinat Madi, which was devoted to the deity Sobek.
Amenmehat III was also interested in mining for various resources to help him with his buildings. This is why the mining of turquoise in Sinai prospered under his reign, and he also had certain extensions built at the Temple of the Goddess Hathor in Serbet El Khadim in Sinai.
The tomb of Amenmehat III’s beloved wife, Aat, was discovered near his Dahshur pyramid, which was built before his other achievements in the Fayoum. In truth, the king was never satisfied with his pyramid in Dahshur since it had challenges and flaws that emerged throughout the construction process, which is why he directed his efforts, money, and time to the Pyramid of Hawara.
The Hawara Pyramid’s Construction
Following his disastrous effort at Dahshur, Amenmehat III wanted to ensure that his new pyramid in Hawara would never collapse, which is why the engineers built it at a far lower angle than the previous pyramid in Dahshur. There was a smaller pyramid on top of the main pyramid, and the bottom plan and form of the Pyramid of Hawara were exceedingly intricate, maybe influenced by the design of the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, which was completed early in the Old Kingdom era.
The first difference between the Pyramid of Hawara and the previous pyramids built during the Old Kingdom period was that Amenmehat III made the entrance to his pyramid in the southern section, as opposed to what had been done previously, where the entrance would be in the northern section of the pyramids.
The King had a brilliant idea to deceive any criminals who wanted to steal the valuables placed inside the pyramid. Furthermore, Amenmehat III built a long staircase that led burglars to a small room that they mistook for the burial chamber, while the burial chamber was accessible by a narrow little path on the ground. A massive stone weighing more than 45 tonnes obstructed this entrance.
To deceive the robbers who were frequent at the time, the entrance to the Hawara pyramid was constructed in the western portion of the pyramid and goes to the first room of the pyramid. Following that, one finds himself in a hallway that, in the end, leads nowhere. A secret aperture in the ceiling leads to another route that travels in three directions: east, north, and eventually west, making it much more difficult to reach the antechamber that allows the traveler to finally access the burial chamber.
The Design of the Pyramid of Hawara
The Pyramid of Hawara’s burial chamber was carved out of rock in the shape of a rectangle from the start, and then a massive single piece of quartzite was placed inside the hollow of the burial chamber. This chunk of quartzite was carefully removed at the conclusion of the construction process to construct the burial chamber, the most significant component of any pyramid of tombs in ancient Egypt. This allowed it to become a chamber with four walls, each half a meter thick, seven meters high, and two and a half meters broad.
Despite all of Amenmehat III’s attempts to preserve his pyramid at Hawara, robbers were able to access the burial chamber via a breach in the roof and steal all of the expensive and significant objects that the priests had placed there.
The Pyramid of Hawara was built with the King’s sarcophagus, which was also made of quartzite and was placed within the burial chamber. Three stone blocks were placed on top of the big stone used to shut the aperture leading to the burial chamber, and the entire pyramid was built on top of these stones. The interior corridors of the pyramid were created and fashioned in a wonderful artistic manner to trick the thieves who specialized in stealing the riches and jewels buried with ancient Egypt’s kings and queens. However, when the Pharaohs’ engineers developed new ideas and methods to guard the pyramids they designed, the thieves perfected their talents and were able to remove all of the things placed in the burial chamber.
The Nefruptah Tomb
The tomb of Princess Nefruptah, the daughter of King Amenmehat III, is located one and a half kilometers north of the Pyramid of Hawara. It was built of limestone and formerly housed a granite sarcophagus that was given to the Egyptian Antiquities Authority.
When King Amenmehat III’s favorite daughter, Nefruptah, died, a beautiful sarcophagus was made for her and placed inside the king’s pyramid in Hawara, which was contrary to the ancient Egyptian kings’ and royal family’s custom of placing the king’s sarcophagus only in the burial chamber of his pyramid. Archeologists discovered an offerings table, three silver dishes, and jewelry belonging to the princess Nefruptah within her tomb at the Pyramid of Hawara.
The Mortuary Temple Of Amenmehat III
Aside from the Pyramid of Hawara, there exist the remnants of Amenmehat III’s funerary temple. When the pyramid and temple were initially built, they were joined together. This temple had 12 halls with ceilings, six of which were located to the north and the other six to the south. The Mortuary Temple of Amenmehat III had a vast defensive wall and more than 300 separate halls and chambers, half of which were placed beneath the earth and housed the king’s tomb. The remaining rooms were located above ground. Except for the ground floor pillars, nothing of this construction survives now, and the underground level has yet to be excavated.