Pyramidion of Amenhotep (Huy)
Pyramidion of the royal scribe Amenhotep Huy during the reign of Ramesses II, 1279-1213 BC. From Saqqara necropolis.
True pyramids (at least the larger ones), as opposed to step pyramids in Egypt were topped by a special stone called a pyramidion, or sometimes a capstone, which was itself a miniature pyramid. It brought the pyramid structure to a point at the same angle and the same proportions as the main body.
Actually, the ancient Egyptian word for the pyramidion, which could also sit atop the apex of an obelisk, was ben-benet, named for the sacred Benben stone kept in the temple of Heliopolis, the oldest center of the sun cult in Egypt. During the Old Kingdom, they were usually made of diorite, granite or a very fine limestone which was then covered in gold or electrum.
By the Middle Kingdom and the end of the Pyramid Age, they were usually made of granite and inscribed with texts and symbols. Few, if any pyramidions have actually been found sitting atop a pyramid, though a number of them have been unearthed over the years.
Four pyramidia – the world’s largest collection – are housed in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Among them are the pyramidia from the so-called Black Pyramid of Amenemhat III at Dahshur and of the Pyramid of Khendjer at Saqqara.
During the 19th Dynasty of Egypt, pyramidions were commonly used as the decorative capstones for pyramids. These pyramidions were typically made of stone and were placed at the top of the pyramid structure. They were often inscribed with religious texts, royal names, and symbols associated with the king’s power and divine status.
The pyramidions served as a symbolic representation of the king’s connection to the gods and their ascent to the afterlife. They were considered an important architectural and religious element of pyramid construction during the 19th Dynasty.
New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BC. Granodiorite. Dimensions: height 47.5 cm, width 53 cm, depth 52 cm. From Saqqara. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. TR 7-114-24-1