On which bank of the Nile River were the pyramids constructed?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

The Location of the Pyramids

The pyramids of Egypt are some of the most renowned ancient structures in the world. They are located on the west bank of the Nile River, opposite the modern-day city of Cairo. The Nile River played a crucial role in the development and expansion of ancient Egyptian civilization, and the pyramids are a testament to the ingenuity and engineering prowess of the ancient Egyptians.

The pyramids were built during the Old Kingdom period, which lasted from around 2686 BCE to 2181 BCE. They were constructed as tombs for the pharaohs and their consorts, and were meant to serve as grand monuments to their power and divinity. The location of the pyramids on the west bank of the Nile was not accidental, but rather a deliberate choice by the ancient Egyptians for several reasons, which we will explore in this article.

The Nile River and Its Importance in Ancient Egypt

The Nile River was central to the prosperity and survival of ancient Egypt. It provided a source of water for irrigation, transportation, and fishing, and the fertile land along its banks was ideal for farming. The annual flooding of the Nile also deposited nutrient-rich silt that made the soil more fertile, allowing for abundant crops.

The Nile was also a vital trade route, facilitating the exchange of goods and ideas between Egypt and other civilizations in Africa and the Mediterranean world. The Nile was worshipped as a deity by the ancient Egyptians, and many of their religious beliefs and practices were intimately tied to the river and its cycles.

The West Bank of the Nile: Home to the Necropolis

The west bank of the Nile was considered the land of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology, and it was here that the pharaohs and other members of the royal family were buried. The area was known as the necropolis, which means "city of the dead."

The west bank was chosen as the location for the necropolis because it was believed to be the realm of the setting sun, which represented the end of life and the beginning of the afterlife. The west bank was also more isolated and protected from floods, making it a more secure location for the tombs.

The East Bank of the Nile: Residential and Administrative Areas

In contrast to the west bank, the east bank of the Nile was where most Egyptians lived and worked. It was home to the administrative and governmental buildings, as well as the residences of the nobility and ruling class.

The east bank was also where most of the temples and shrines were located, as well as the markets and commercial areas. The east bank was the hub of daily life in ancient Egypt, while the west bank was reserved for the dead and the afterlife.

Giza: The Most Famous Pyramid Complex

The Giza complex is the most famous and iconic of all the pyramid complexes in Egypt. It consists of three large pyramids, known as the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, as well as several smaller satellite pyramids and the Sphinx.

The Great Pyramid is the largest and most impressive of the three, and was built for the pharaoh Khufu. It was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

Saqqara: The First Pyramid Built in Egypt

The Saqqara complex is the oldest pyramid complex in Egypt, and was built for the pharaoh Djoser during the Third Dynasty. It was designed by the famous architect Imhotep, and consists of a series of stacked mastabas, or rectangular structures, that gradually increase in size.

The Step Pyramid of Saqqara is considered a groundbreaking achievement in ancient Egyptian architecture, and is the first known example of a monumental stone structure.

Dahshur: The Site of the Bent Pyramid

The Dahshur complex is located south of Saqqara, and consists of several pyramids built during the Old Kingdom period. The most famous of these is the Bent Pyramid, so named because of its unusual shape.

The Bent Pyramid was originally built with a steep angle, but was later modified to a shallower angle due to stability concerns. The change in angle is clearly visible on the pyramid, making it a unique and fascinating example of ancient Egyptian architecture.

Abusir: The Pyramid Complex of Sahure

The Abusir complex is located between Giza and Saqqara, and was built during the Fifth Dynasty. It was the burial site of the pharaoh Sahure, and consists of a pyramid, a mortuary temple, and several smaller pyramids and tombs.

The pyramid of Sahure is not as large or impressive as some of the other pyramids in Egypt, but it is notable for its well-preserved reliefs and decorations, which offer a glimpse into the artistic and cultural practices of the time.

The Sphinx: A Mysterious Monument on the West Bank

The Sphinx is a monumental statue located on the west bank of the Nile, near the Giza pyramids. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of ancient Egypt, and is shrouded in mystery and legend.

The Sphinx is thought to have been built during the reign of the pharaoh Khafre, and is widely believed to represent his likeness. However, the true purpose and meaning of the Sphinx remains a subject of debate and speculation among historians and archaeologists.

Why Were the Pyramids Built on the West Bank of the Nile?

The choice of the west bank of the Nile as the location for the pyramids was not accidental, but rather a deliberate choice by the ancient Egyptians. The west bank was associated with the realm of the dead, and was considered a sacred and protected space.

The pyramids were built to serve as tombs for the pharaohs and their consorts, and were meant to ensure their immortality and eternal life in the afterworld. The west bank provided a secure and isolated location for the tombs, and was also easily accessible by boat from the east bank.

Conclusion: The Legacy of the Pyramids on the West Bank

The pyramids on the west bank of the Nile are a testament to the ingenuity, creativity, and sophistication of ancient Egyptian civilization. They are a reminder of the power and influence of the pharaohs and their enduring legacy, which continues to fascinate and inspire people around the world today.

The pyramids also provide valuable insights into the religious, cultural, and social practices of ancient Egypt, and represent a unique and important chapter in human history.

Further Reading: Sources on Ancient Egyptian Architecture

  • "The Pyramids of Egypt" by I.E.S. Edwards
  • "The Complete Pyramids" by Mark Lehner
  • "Architecture of Ancient Egypt" by Alexander Badawy
  • "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt" by Ian Shaw
  • "The Egyptian Pyramid Mystery Is Solved" by Houdin and Labarre
Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment