What did the pharaohs of ancient Egypt hide in the pyramids?


—AlexAnton /

Some ancient Egyptian royal tombs have been found by archaeologists full of precious treasures. But were all the tombs and pyramids of the pharaohs of this period also lavishly decorated? What were they hiding?

Mysterious pyramids

The answer to the question posed above is no. Indeed, while the Great Pyramid of Giza and others were incredible monuments, the grave goods that comprised it were more modest than those buried in the tombs of later pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun. “The burials in the larger pyramids may seem simple enough compared to Tutankhamun”explained Wolfram Grajetzki, a researcher at University College London.

The specialist also claimed that the pyramids were used as tombs for the Egyptian pharaohs in the time of Djoser and Ahmose I. While most of these pyramids were looted centuries ago, other royal tombs have remained mostly intact and provide clues about the their treasures. Among these, we can name a few: the burial chamber of Princess Neferutah (around 1800 BC) which contained pottery, a set of coffins, gilded ornaments and royal insignia ; the tomb of King Hor (c. 1750 BC) was lined with precious objects, was wrapped in linen and his face was covered with a mummy mask; or the pyramid of King Sekhemkhet (from 2611 BC to about 2605 BC) which was found with gold bracelets, a gold scepter and various other gold jewels.

– Photograph by Nick Brundle /

“There were no great treasures in the pyramids”

Despite these golden objects, “There were no great treasures in the pyramids”, explained Hans-Hubertus Münch, an academic who wrote about the funerary artifacts of ancient Egypt. Furthermore, no tombs have been found dating back to earlier times when pyramids were built with large quantities of sumptuous grave goods.

This scholar also stated that during the New Kingdom (from 1550 BC to about 1070 BC), when the construction of the pyramids came to an end, more pharaohs were buried with precious funerary objects. Also, also in this period, some tried to put many decorated objects in their graves. “This huge mass of objects in the tombs is just an invention of the New Kingdom”Hans-Hubertus Münch said.

—Vladimir Melnik /

Hieroglyphic inscriptions

While the grave goods inside the pyramids were more modest than those in later ancient Egyptian tombs, many were the pyramids to have long hieroglyphic inscriptions on the wallscalled “pyramid texts”. Texts describing rituals e “spells”, according to Egyptologists. Their function? Allow the deceased to become a “ah”, in other words, a spirit that exists in the afterlife. Hence, the spells were intended to bring together the “ka” and the “Ba”parts of a person’s soul that the Egyptians believed were separated at death.

These texts ultimately reflect “A change or innovation in the ideas of the ancient Egyptians about the real afterlife. In ancient times there may have been documents such as the Pyramid Texts, but for some reason they began to be written on the walls of the pyramid during the Unis period (circa 2353 BC). -VS.) “explained James Allen, a professor of Egyptology at Brown University.


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