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Pyramid towns

Part of a pyramid complex was a pyramid town. The pyramid town was the home for priests serving in the cult of the king. There is some evidence, that the pyramid town included a palace for a king. In the Old Kingdom the pyramid towns had the same name as the pyramids. In the Middle Kingdom the pyramid towns had their own names.

The pyramid towns of the Old Kingdom are best known from a series of royal decrees set up in the towns (collected by Goedicke 1967) giving the inhabitants special privileges. Few remains of these towns survived. Around the valley temple and the pyramid of Menkawre some houses survived; a few houses also survived at the valley temple of the bent pyramid at Dahshur. For the Fifth Dynasty, some houses have been excavated in and around the pyramid complexes at Abusir. Settlements at Old Kingdom pyramids consisted of no more than a cluster of houses, so the term 'pyramid town' may be misleading. The towns at Middle Kingdom pyramid complexes are on an entirely different scale.

Is this an accident of the surviving record? Or was there a major difference of scale between the two periods?

From the Middle Kingdom the pyramid town of Senusret II is excavated (Lahun). The size of the town and the documents found there show that it was of considerable importance in the late Middle Kingdom. A town with similar function has recently been excavated at Abydos and belongs to the funerary complex of Senusret III at that place.


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