Abstract: Egypt’s Last Royal Pyramids: The Monuments of King Ahmose at Abydos


Over the past 20 years of excavation, the Ahmose and Tetisheri Project at Abydos, Egypt has revealed a surprising amount of information about the monuments of the founder of Egypt’s New Kingdom, the warrior-king Ahmose (ca. 1550-1525 BCE) and his family.  Although Ahmose’s monumental pyramid at Abydos has been known since its discovery in 1900, the existence of a series of other temples at its base went unsuspected until work was  resumed in 1993.  A startling discovery came in the form of fragments of the pyramid temple decoration, including the oldest images of horses and chariots in battle ever found in Egypt, and these are the only known representations of Ahmose’s defeat of the Hyksos, rulers of Syro-Palestinian origin who occupied northern Egypt for a century.  More recently, a second royal pyramid built by Ahmose could be identified in the form of a smaller brick structure first excavated over a century ago.  Fragments of a monumental stone inscription within it have long been known, describing Ahmose’s intentions in creating a monument to his grandmother, Queen Tetisheri.  However, recent excavations have brought to light not only additional fragments of this text, but also proof of the structure’s identification as a pyramid, in the form of its limestone capstone, or pyramidion.  Taken together with evidence for worship of King Ahmose and his family for three centuries, these discoveries raise important questions about the end of the tradition of royal pyramid building in Egypt, and the birth of a new era best symbolized by the hidden tombs in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):


Harvey, Stephen P. “Abydos,” The Oriental Institute 2002-03 Annual Report, 15-25. http://oi.uchicago.edu/pdf/02-03_Abydos.pdf

"Monuments of Ahmose at Abydos."  Egyptian Archaeology 4 (1994): 3-5.

“New evidence at Abydos for Ahmose’s funerary cult,” Egyptian Archaeology 24 (Spring 2004): 3-6.

“Tribute to a Conquering King.” Archaeology 54 (4) July/August 2001: 52-55.  

O'Connor, David B. (2009)  Abydos.  Egypt’s First Pharaohs and the Cult of Osiris.  London: Thames & Hudson, especially Chapter 7, 105 ff.




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