The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III - Mysterious Underground Chambers And Lost Ancient Treasures

The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III – Mysterious Underground Chambers And Lost Ancient Treasures

Ellen Lloyd – – Standing long forgotten and abandoned, the black pyramid of Amenemhat III was once constructed to become an impressive structure testifying to the Pharaoh’s greatness. Unfortunately, the pyramid, originally named Amenemhet is Mighty, has been looted and lost all its treasures.

The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III - Mysterious Underground Chambers And Lost Ancient Treasures

The pyramid got its name for its dark, decaying appearance as a rubble mound, and when archaeologists started to excavate at the site, the Black Pyramid was already in ruins.

Few people today are aware of its existence. Even if the Black Pyramid is not as famous as the Giza pyramids, it is a fascinating ancient structure providing some historical knowledge about ancient Egypt.

Ancient Secrets Of The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III

Amenemhat III, Pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, planned to be buried inside the Black Pyramid with his queen. Still, there were construction problems, and he abandoned the building project. Instead, he built a new pyramid at Hawara, near the Faiyum. The Black Pyramid at Dahshur became the final resting place for some royal women. It is still unknown who is buried inside the Black Pyramid.

The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III - Mysterious Underground Chambers And Lost Ancient Treasures

The “Black Pyramid” of King Amenemhat III. Credit: Tekisch – CC BY-SA 3.0

When excavation of the Dashur Pyramid started in 1892, archaeologists made many interesting discoveries. Many of the pyramid’s stones had been stolen and used to build houses in the village and surrounding areas. However, some of the remaining stones found in the vicinity and inside the pyramid “were inscribed with boat scenes and the like, in a style which showed clearly that they had originally belonged to Old Kingdom Mastabas; and it was clear that Amenemhat in constructing his pyramid “had quarried extensively among earlier tombs, possible in Medum or Dashur.” 1

The Black Pyramid was initially about 75 meters tall, with a base 105 meters long.

In front of the entrance to the pyramid, there was a colossal “false door! In red granite 3,86 meters high, inscribed with the names and titles of Amenemhat. This must have been the offering steal which Amenemhat originally intended should be set up in the temple in connection with the granite altar.” 1

False doors were quite popular in ancient Egypt. According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, these enigmatic doors led to the underworld beyond.

In ancient Egypt, the “false doors” also known as “Ka doors” allowed the Ka (an element of the “soul”) to pass through them, and these carvings were common in the mortuary temples and tombs of ancient Egypt from around the Third Dynasty and temples of the New Kingdom.

As previously explained on, “in Egyptian beliefs, the soul had three parts, the Ka, the Ba, and the Akh.  These three spiritual elements found refuge in the body. Therefore, it was vital to keep the body intact after death and to equip it with the necessary items for life.

Ka survived the death of the body and could reside in an image or statue of a person. It was bound to the body and represented its vital (hyper-powerful physical forces). This Ka, which thus exists forever, so that ‘to go to it’ is synonymous with ‘to die’ (or ‘to be resurrected), is created, like man himself.” 2

The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III – Mysterious Underground Chambers And Lost Ancient Treasures

Pyramidion (capstone) at Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Credit: Public Domain

When archaeologists entered the causeway which led to the chambers, they discovered “several deep tomb-shaft were opened, one of which produced a finely executed head of a statue of a XIIth dynasty king, probably Amenemhat III and a stela dedicated to a prince named Hapu (XXth dynasty?) and another finely colored block  relief, representing a vulture and hawk with outstretched wings.” 1

The most exciting finds were made in the lower part of the Black Pyramid, where scientists came across a vast network of underground passages. In these subterranean chambers, they found sarcophagus and canopic jars.

Ancient Egyptians believed death was a transition to another reality, and the heart was always left inside the mummified corpse for use in the afterlife.

“Canopic jars were ritual vessels containing internal organs removed from the body of the deceased during the mummification process.” 3

Archaeologists found a sarcophagus inside the King’s chamber, which was still well-preserved, but it did not contain the mummy of the Pharaoh. The Queens’ section was in bad condition and had been looted. In addition to this, archaeologists found four other burial chambers in the underground section of the Black Pyramid. Two of the burials are believed to belong to King Amenemhet IV and queen Sobekneferu. The other two remain unidentified.

The Black Pyramid has countless corridors and chambers underground. What ancient treasures were once hidden inside it will remain a mystery forever because this interesting ancient site has been plundered.

Was There Also A Black Pyramid At Giza?

There are not many black pyramids in Egypt, but there may once have been one at Giza.

“The existence of a fourth pyramid at Giza was documented by Danish explorer Frederic Louis Norden (1708-1742), who participated in an expedition to Egypt organized by the Frenchman Pierre Joseph le Roux d’Esneval on demand by the Danish King Christian VI.

Norden was not an amateur explorer. He was an experienced naval Captain, cartographer, and archaeological explorer who, before his visit to Egypt in 1737, had traveled to countries like the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Malta to study fortifications.

The Black Pyramid Of Amenemhat III – Mysterious Underground Chambers And Lost Ancient Treasures

Pharaoh Amenemhat III. Credit: EditorfromMars – CC BY-SA 4.0

When Captain Norden reached Egypt, he documented and drew everything he saw and experienced, including pharaonic monuments, architecture, installations, and maps. He made more than 200 drawings that can be found in his publication Voyage d’Egypte et de Nubie.

Some of his drawings made modern researchers puzzled. Why had Captain Norden made a drawing of a fourth pyramid at Giza?

In his writings, Captain Norden stated: “There are four of them; they deserve the attention of the curious, even though they may be seven or eight in the neighborhood, they are nothing in comparison with the first (…) The two pyramids to the north are the biggest and have 500 feet perpendicular. The other two are much smaller but they have some peculiarities that cause it to be examined and admired.”

Captain Norden said the ancient structure’s top was extremely when describing the fourth pyramid. It seemed to be “a stone blacker than the granite common.” 4

The existence of a black pyramid at Giza has never been confirmed, but we do know the Black Pyramid at Dahshur is real even though it has been looted.

Written by Ellen Lloyd –

Updated on September 2, 2022

Copyright ©  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of

Expand for references

  1. C. M. (1908). The Egyptian Expedition: III. The Pyramid of Amenemhat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin,3(10), 184-188
  2. Sutherland – Why Were Ba And Ka Powerful Elements Of Soul In Ancient Egyptian Beliefs?,
  3. Sutherland – Canopic Jars: Funerary Tradition Of Ancient Egyptians And Their Beliefs In Afterlife,
  4. Ellen Lloyd – Ancient Mystery Of Egypt’s Black Pyramid – Did It Really Exist?


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