About Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids
The town of Zawyet el Aryan near Giza in north-eastern Egypt contains the remains of two relatively obscure Egyptian pyramids, known as the Layer Pyramid and the Unfinished Pyramid. The pyramids were likely built during the Third Dynasty, therefore dating construction sometime around 2700 and 2600 BC.
The Layer Pyramid is generally attributed to the Pharaoh Khaba while the Unfinished Pyramid is more of a mystery. The Layer Pyramid itself is a step-pyramid which sits atop an underground burial chamber, while Unfinished Pyramid is just that and contains only the base where it would have been built.
Zawyet el Aryan is not an easy place to get to as it is well off the established tourist trail and close to a military base, although some bespoke tour operators may offer guided visits.
Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids history
The Lower Pyramid was likely built by the Pharaoh Khaba during the Third Dynasty, ruling Egypt around 2670 BC. The site was excavated in the early 20th century, and archaeologists found several large Mastabas nearby which would have been dwellings for high officials. Therefore, the Zawyet el Aryan area was of ancient royal significance.
The Unfinished Pyramid was built by an unknown king during the Fourth Dynasty or ‘Golden Age’, the inscription illegible. The builders did not get much further than a large base one which the pyramid would have been built upon, however, a pink granite sarcophagus was discovered in a hole dug into the structure, perhaps placed later on.
The pyramids at Zawyet el Aryan were surrounded by 5 cemeteries dating between the First Dynasty and the Roman Period, with one from the Third Dynasty containing tombs. It was believed by archaeologists that this necropolis surrounded the pharaoh’s pyramid, and the tombs belonged to royal family members and court officials.
Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids today
Unfortunately, since 1964 much of the site at Zawyet el Aryan has been restricted due to a nearby military base. The necropolis has been completely built over by military housing and the Unfinished Pyramid has allegedly been used as a rubbish dump. Definitely check ahead before travelling to the Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids.
Getting to the Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids
Only an 18 minute drive from the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Zawyet el Aryan Pyramids are a half hour drive out of Giza via the ring road and Route 75M.
From the world famous pyramids of Giza to the mask of Tutankhamen at Cairo's Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, follow in the footsteps of the pharaohs in our guide to the best Ancient Egyptian attractions to see.