How One Of The Greatest Pyramid’s Lost Its Capstone

What became of the finishing touch atop the magnificent Great Pyramid of Giza? Has it been lost, destroyed or never even existed in the first place? Understandably considered to be a fundamental element, numerous pictorial representations suggest that its construction was outfitted with gold and other precious metals. This leads us to wonder what ever happened to this mysterious capstone.

Under the reign of Pharaoh Djoser during Egypt’s Third Dynasty, an unprecedented and revolutionary monument was brought to life. At Saqqara’s royal necropolis – where the Great Pyramid of Giza would eventually be constructed centuries later – King Djoser charged his wise architect and Vizier Imhotep with creating a timeless landmark. The Step Pyramid of Djoser was an unprecedented feat in Egyptian architecture, indicating the inception of pyramids in Egypt. Not only that, but it is also viewed as a groundbreaking and extraordinary monument—it stands to be the oldest large-scale cut stone construction known to this day–equivalent to those found at Caral in South America. Moreover, due its six-stepped design, The Step Pyramid is considered to be one of the first structures made from stone ever built by man on Egyptian soil.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser

Pharaoh Djoser’s impressive nineteen-year reign is believed to have enabled him to bring his grandiose pyramid plans into fruition during his lifetime. Imhotep’s Step Pyramid of Saqqara revolutionized Egypt, ushering in a completely new era with its intricacy and incredible design. At a total height of 65 meters and comprising 330,400 cubic meters (11,667,966 cu ft), the Step Pyramid of Djoser is an incredible feat of architecture and engineering which has marked a major shift from rudimentary architectural forms. Egyptologists explain that it was born out of Mastaba’s continual evolution. Imhotep is thought to have innovated with the Pyramid’s design, commencing by constructing a Mastaba kind of form, which was gradually and over nineteen years modified until it arrived at its present structure: six blocks towering one atop another.

Revolution

As the revolutionary structure that it was, it wasn’t until the Fourth Dynasty that Egypt saw another pyramid being built. Djoser’s Step Pyramid served as a source of inspiration for later generations of pyramid builders, though its complexity posed an almost insurmountable challenge. The first attempt to recreate Djoser’s structure can be found at the Sekhemkhet Pyramid in Saqqara– yet it was never completed due to mysterious circumstances.

Attempt At Zawiyet el-Aryan

In an effort to replicate the success of Sekhemkhet’s Pyramid, another Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty attempted a Step Pyramid in Zawiyet el-Aryan. Unfortunately, this structure was left incomplete and shrouded in secrecy. Before Sneferu, the Layer Pyramid had been initiated but never completed, leaving those who were searching for answers with more queries than when they first began. It was during his reign that another pyramid became a tangible reality: The Step Pyramid at Meidum. Even today this marble structure stands in ruins; its external core having three steps still visible despite being half-collapsed. The Pyramid of Djoser and that at Meidum have one thing in common: neither featured a capstone which is seen on other pyramids. All archeological evidence points to the fact that both were lacking any kind of summit stone – making them unique among their contemporaries.

A profound mark in pyramid building

After his expedition at Meidum, Sneferu traveled to Dahshur and erected two extraordinary pyramids that left an indelible impact on the pyramid building in ancient Egypt. The second of these masterpieces is famously known as the Bent Pyramid. This monument stands as a testament to the experimentation of the workers. What began as a Step Pyramid, akin to that of Djoser’s design, eventually took on an entirely different form when tasked with constructing a smooth-sided pyramid instead. Thus speaks volumes about their determination and skill in achieving this goal. After learning from two attempts, Sneferu eventually completed constructing the Red Pyramid at Dahshur. This pyramid is famously known as the Northern Pyramid and was a pivotal success in Ancient Egypt’s history of forming smooth-sided pyramids.

The Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid stands tall at Dahshur, with a unique 43-degree angle and an outstanding height of 105 meters. This massive structure is the largest in Egypt, boasting an impressive total volume of 1,694,000 cubic meters (59,823,045 cu ft). Interestingly enough this was also the first pyramid to have ever featured a capstone or pyramidion according to archeological evidence. After being rediscovered and reassembled, the capstone of Dahshur is now on show. Despite this discovery, it continues to be heavily discussed if the capstone was ever utilized or not. This is mainly due to its distinctive angle in comparison with that of the Pyramid itself. The prior three pyramids – Djoser, Meidum and the Bent Pyramid – probably did not have a pinnacle stone atop them at all. With its remarkable design details and components, The Red Pyramid represents yet another breakthrough in pyramid architecture.

Red Pyramid’s Significance

The Red Pyramid is of immense significance as it was the first smooth-sided Pyramid in Egypt to be successfully built, thus making way for one of the most impressive and grandest Pyramids – The Great Pyramid at Giza. According to ancient texts, the Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed by King Khufu, who followed in his father’s footsteps as Sneferu’s successor. This majestic wonder boasts a remarkable volume of 2,583,283 cubic meters (91,227,778 cu ft) and stands 138.8 metres tall; making it not only the largest but most impressive pyramid in Egypt, although not the largest.

Lost?

The Great Pyramid of Giza is arguably the most remarkable and distinct pyramid ever constructed due to its awe-inspiring height, size, and astounding alignment. What makes it even more special is that it’s the only eight-sided pyramid existing on Earth! Furthermore, this ancient marvel boasts extraordinary accuracy. An anomaly that leaves archaeologists befuddled is the astounding level of precision and alignment demonstrated by this 4,500-year-old Pyramid. Its base is no more than 2.1 centimeters off balance while its sides deviate only 3’6″ away from true cardinal directions – with a maximum length discrepancy of mere 4.4 centimeters.

Shone Like Star

Finished with its construction, the Pyramid was enveloped in highly polished blocks of limestone that enabled it to reflect the sun’s rays and shine like a star. But aside from this amazing quality, its pinnacle is most captivating. Eerily towering towards the sky before abruptly ending as if someone or something had chopped off the top – today, after scaling 203 courses (or steps) up to its summit –the Pyramid still remains incomplete.

Perched atop the highest point, your gaze will be rewarded with a spectacular view of modern day Cairo and Giza! The historic pyramids and the timeless Great Sphinx – shrouded in myths and legends – stand proudly beneath you. For centuries this ancient wonder has left countless people spellbound by its beauty; it truly is an unforgettable sight to behold. However, above all, it has always forced us to question its very purpose. Its missing apex causes us to question was it ever there? Is it possible it was destroyed? Or was it stolen?

Was There Really A Capstone?

The opinions are divided.

Debate surrounds the question of whether or not the Great Pyramid of Giza ever had a capstone. One argument suggests that it was built to its maximum height as its core and encased with limestone blocks. On the contrary, many believe that such an incredible structure should be topped off by something equally impressive: a golden capstone that once stood tall at the apex of this majestic monument in Egypt. Everything we know about the pyramids points to this conclusion: at Cairo’s Museum, there is a remarkably preserved pyramidion made of polished granite that was once part of Ammenenhat III’s Pyramid from the 12th Dynasty. This remarkable find has led scholars to believe that many pyramids after Sneferu’s Third-Dynasty Red Pyramid would have had a capstone in place.

Legend Says

For centuries, visitors to this grand monument have claimed that it has been missing its capstone since the days of Christ. The ancients were well aware that there was no point in having such a structure without its crowning glory, and some records even suggest it may have originally been made of or plated with gold. Thus the query persists throughout time – what happened to the missing capstone.

Robert Bauval’s book “Secret Chamber” offers an exciting story about the whereabouts of the Pyramid’s capstone:

Originally the Great Pyramid of Khufu had its capstone in place. It was gold-plated, and on each of its four sides, a blue eye of Horus was painted. When the Sun struck the Pyramid, a beam of light was reflected from this golden blue eye that could be seen for miles around. As the epoch/6th dynasty age of Egypt came to a close, the priesthood removed the capstone and buried it secretly. No one knows where. But according to the story, it will one day be rediscovered and will be replaced on top of the Pyramid. When that day comes, a ‘new order of the ages’ will be established, which will correspond to a general spiritual reawakening. It is just a story.

What are the odds that the Great Pyramid of Giza did have a previous capstone on its apex, but it was removed in ancient times from the Pyramid and buried somewhere beneath the golden sands of Egypt?

No Records

Not a single record exists that could give us an insight into the Pyramid’s summit or what lay there. No ancient documentation mentions anything about this mysterious structure, nor have we uncovered any documents like papyrus scrolls telling us who constructed it and why they did so. Surprisingly enough, even though we are in complete darkness as to how the Pyramid was built – with no clear direction available – its magnificence still stands today. To this day, Merer’s Journal is the only source that has ever come close to providing answers about the missing apex of the Great Pyramid. For two thousand years, scholars and tourists alike have been captivated by such an unsolved mystery – keeping its capstone hidden from plain sight. The most perplexing part? No one knows what happened to it! Yet, although so much time has passed, nothing can match up with The Great Pyramids’ lost peak – making it a true enigma for all ages.

Author

  • William Conroy

    Meet William. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in History, concentrating on global and comparative history. He has spent his lifetime researching and studying everything related to ancient history, civilizations, and mythology. He is fascinated with exploring the rich history of every region on Earth, diving headfirst into ancient societies and their beliefs. His curiosity about how ancient civilizations viewed the world and how those views affected their belief systems and behaviors is what drives him.

author avatar
William Conroy
Meet William. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in History, concentrating on global and comparative history. He has spent his lifetime researching and studying everything related to ancient history, civilizations, and mythology. He is fascinated with exploring the rich history of every region on Earth, diving headfirst into ancient societies and their beliefs. His curiosity about how ancient civilizations viewed the world and how those views affected their belief systems and behaviors is what drives him.