The third pyramid to the S is the Pyramid of Menkaure (called ‘Menkaure is divine’). It is the smallest of the group and was built between 2533 and 2505 BC, although finished by Menkaure’s son Shepseskaf. The lower 16 courses were cased in granite, but the rest was never completed. The main pyramid is built on the edge of the sloping plateau and originally stood 66.5m high and 108m sq. at the base. The angle of the sides is 51°. The Entry (A) is in the N face about 4m above the surface of the limestone platform; the descending passage (B) with a slope of 26°2′ is 3 1m long, faced with granite blocks. It leads, after passing through a panelled vestibule (the original burial chamber) and a horizontal passage with three portcullises, into the underground Burial Chamber (D). This is lower than the earlier chamber (C) and is cut entirely in the’rock, but lined with granite.
Here Colonel Vyse found a panelled basalt sarcophagus which was lost at sea off the Spanish coast when the ship carrying it to England sank during a storm. He also found some bones, and the fragments of a wooden coffin inscribed with the name of Menkaure, at first thought to be his original coffin dating to the 4 Dyn. However, the type of inscription suggests that it was a 26 Dyn. replacement (now in the BM).
S of the pyramid stand three Subsidiary Pyramids, none of which has been completed; each with a small mortuary chapel on the E, finished in mud-bricks, probably the work of Shepseskaf. The largest of these, the East Pyramid, cased in granite blocks, was probably intended for Queen Khamerernebty II, Menkaure’s principal wife. It is 44.3m sq.
by 28.27m high. The Mortuary Chapel is relatively large—21m by 25m. The Central Pyramid was used and the burial chamber con- tained a granite sarcophagus with an inner coffin which contained the bones of a young woman, probably another of Menkaure’s wives. The West Pyramid was perhaps never used. The Mortuary Temple of Menkaure’s pyramid is on its E side. It is well preserved; the walls of local limestone, intended to be lined with granite, were finished off instead in mud brick with a thin limestone facing. A long entrance corridor leads from the causeway to the central court, on the W side of which are six square red granite pillars and in the centre a basin and drains. Behind the W side is a long narrow room, and, on the N side, reached by a narrow passage, are five small rooms but, to the S, the temple never seems to have been finished. At the W end is a small sanctuary set right against the pyramid, paved with red granite with traces of an offering table before a false door.
This temple is linked to the Valley Temple by a Causeway (660m) passing the curious Tomb of Queen Khentkawes on the left (see 〝 below). The Valley Temple now buried under sand, though originally cleared by George Reisner, lies very close to the Muslim cemetery of the village of Nazlat al—Sarmnan and is, to a certain extent, covered by the modern graves.
It was built of mud brick, with only the thresholds and paving in stone. The E entrance opened into a small vestibule, with storerooms on either side, four in all. A door in the back of the vestibule leads into the main courtyard which had a mud-brick wall decorated with niches, a mud-brick pavement and a limestone basin and drain, A gangway led to a hall, with the roof supported by six pillars behind which was the sanctuary, with six chambers on one side and five on the other. In the S room were found the complete and fragmentary triads in alabaster and slate representing Menkaure, Hathor and the gods of the various nomes (now in the EM and the Boston Museum). The causeway was paved with limestone blocks covered with mud brick, as were the walls. It was roofed with palm logs and joined the enclosure wall, although Reisner found no direct connection with the main part of the temple.