El-Lahun Pyramid of Senusret II
On the death of Amenemhat II the son Sesostris II, Kakheperra Senusret II ascends to the throne, which means “the Ka of Ra took shape“, while his birth name, Sesostri, (Senusret ), means “man of the goddess Uosret“, he chose El-Lahun to built his Pyramid.
In the Royal papyrus of Turin, Senusret II, it is not expressly mentioned, an anonymous pharaoh of the 12th dynasty is mentioned by Egyptologists identified with Senusret II, to whom 19 years of reign are assigned, not all archaeologists agree, the date found on a stele of red sandstone found in a quarry at Toshka in 1932, speaks of 8 years.
Some archaeologists attribute 10 to them but clash with the hypotheses of others, Jurgen von Beckerarh and Frank J. Yutco, which lean towards the 19 otherwise it would not be justified the fact that Senusret II:
“……… built a complete pyramid at Kahun, with a solid granite mortuary temple and a complex of buildings…….”
whose construction would have required at least twenty years to be completed even with the mud-brick cores.
Senusret II immediately became interested in the Fayyum region where he had an extensive irrigation system built that ranged from Bar Yussef to Lake Moeris.
To achieve this he built a dam in El-Lahun with a network of drainage canals that made the Fayyum become a cultivable area. As for a coregency with his son Sesostri III, there is still no trace of documents attesting to it.
To be able to also enjoy in the afterlife of his work of reclamation of the Fayyum, Sesostri II had his funerary complex built in the oasis with his pyramid which he called “Senusret shines”.
Lepsius began exploring it as early as the 1940s, but only fifty years later, Petrie did real archaeological research. The search for the entrance from the northern side, where the chapel under which the entrance was usually hidden, was located, did not lead to any result, Sesostris II, for some religious reason, but above all for the past experience with tomb looters, he had a change made to his pyramid.
After several failed attempts, Petrie found the entrance to an unthinkable point, he was under the tomb of a princess a few tens of meters away, on the southern side of the pyramid.
The fact that traditionally, already starting from the stepped pyramid of Djoser, the entrance was facing north was due to the fact that the deceased pharaoh headed north because by now he had to join the circumpolar stars.
With the end of the Old Kingdom, this tradition lost much of its importance due to the affirmation of the cult of Osiris. The pyramid presented, like that of Amenemhat II, a stone core, firmly anchored to a rocky hill, covered with bricks.
The white limestone facing no longer existed as it was completely removed during the 19th dynasty and used by Ramesses II for the construction of other buildings.
To avoid crumbling during the downpours, the builders had a large ditch dug all around the pyramid that they filled with sand, this absorbed the water that flowed down from the walls of the pyramid avoiding dispersion in the foundations.
El-Lahun Pyramid of Senusret II
The entrance of the pyramid was through a well in which there was a room with deep niches. From the floor of the room, a horizontal corridor started with the vaulted ceiling pointing to the north to end up in another room in which another fairly narrow vertical well was present, perhaps used for transporting the king’s mummy once it had been hidden.
‘main entrance. From here the corridor continued slightly uphill to the antechamber, in the eastern part of which there was another vertical well which is flooded, it cannot be excluded that it had the function of keeping the water level under control. From the antechamber, a direct passage to the west led to the burial chamber.
Another passage in the southern wall of the antechamber turned at right angles around the burial chamber and then emerged from the north.
Contrary to those of the previous pharaohs, the funerary chamber of Sesostris II was not found in the correspondence of the vertical axis of the pyramid but decidedly moved towards the south-east.
The room was entirely built of granite blocks, including the vaulted ceiling, against which the granite sarcophagus was placed against the western wall.
The sarcophagus, larger than the entrance, suggests that it was introduced during the construction works in the open air. All the precautions taken failed to prevent the pyramid from being sacked already in antiquity.
Of all the funerary items that must have been very rich, Petrie managed to find only a small golden uraeus that perhaps belonged to a statue.
The pyramid, so far closed to the public, has recently been the subject of interventions that have allowed it to be opened to visitors. The inauguration took place last July, following the completion of the restoration work.
This is what our friend Tiziana Giuliani talks about in her article on the Ancient Mediterranean:
<< ……… In presenting the new center of attraction in Lower Egypt, dr. El-Anani praised the work of the authorities responsible for the archaeological and tourist development of the entire Fayyum region as in a short time they succeeded in finalizing two important projects: the opening for the first time to the public of the pyramid of the necropolis of El -Lahun and Khund Aslbay mosque ……….. >>.
The debris in the corridors and in the rooms have been removed, a wooden staircase installed in the main well and other works to allow access to tourists in safety. Tiziana says again:
<< …….. The dot. Waziri took the opportunity to also present the objects that were found inside one of the tombs located on the southern side of the pyramid ……… In freeing the tomb from the rubble fragments of vases were unearthed in terracotta of different sizes and shapes, parts of wooden sarcophagi intended for both men and women and children, funerary masks, a wooden statue, a faience collection, remains of human bones, a wooden box containing a collection of terracotta ushabti and cartonnage remains ……….. a cleverly sculpted mask shows off the delicate features of the deceased. >>
By: Piero Cargnino
Sources and bibliography:
Franco Cimmino, “History of the pyramids”, Rusconi Libri, Milan 1996, Maurizio Damiano, “Encyclopedic dictionary of ancient Egypt and Nubian civilizations”, Mondadori, 1996, Tiziana Giuliani, “Fayyum, Egypt – Opens the pyramid of el-Lahun “, Ancient Mediterranean, 2019, Edda Bresciani,” “Great illustrated encyclopedia of ancient Egypt”, De Agostini, 2005, Miroslav Verner, “The mystery of the pyramids”, Newton & Compton, 1998) Photos: Tiziana Giuliani, MoA, See News.