TOPOGRAPHY, ASTRONOMY AND DYNASTIC HISTORY IN THE ALIGNMENTS OF THE PYRAMID FIELDS OF THE OLD KINGDOM

Topography, astronomy and dynastic history in the alignments of the pyramid fields of the old kingdom



Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, Vol. 10, No.2, pp. 59–74

It is known since the 19 century that in the layout of the pyramid field of the pharaohs of the 4th Egyptian dynasty at Giza, a “main axis” exists. Indeed, the south–east corners of these monuments align towards the site of the temple of Heliopolis, which was plainly visible in ancient times. It was later discovered that a similar situation occurs in the main pyramid field of the subsequent dynasty at Abu Sir. Here, the north–west corners of three chronologically successive pyramids again voluntarily align towards Heliopolis. However, the temple was in this case not visible, due to the rock outcrop – today occupied by the Cairo citadel – which blocks the view. In the present paper, a interdisciplinary approach based on historical, topographical and archaeoastronomical analysis is developed in an attempt at understanding such peculiar features, which governed from the very beginning the planning of these wonderful monuments. A general pattern actually arises, which appears to have inspired the choice of the sites and the disposition on the ground of almost all the funerary complexes of the kings during the Old Kingdom. In particular, this pattern helps to explain the choices in the location of the funerary complexes of Niuserre in Abusir, of Unas in Saqqara and of the kings of the 6th dynasty at south Saqqara.
TOPOGRAPHY, ASTRONOMY AND DYNASTIC HISTORY IN THE ALIGNMENTS OF THE PYRAMID FIELDS OF THE OLD KINGDOMDownload pdf