While everyone knows of Egypt’s great pyramids, many less significant examples dot the Egyptian landscape. Scattered along the Nile from Seila, which is on the edge of the Fayoum Oasis, down south to Elephantine Island at Aswan are seven of Egypt’s smallest step pyramids. They date from the second half of the 3rd Dynasty to as late as the early 4th Dynasty. There are likely others that remain undiscovered, or now completely ruined. Though today largely discounted, some researchers have even attributed all of these small pyramids to a single ruler, Huni, the last ruler of the 3rd Dynasty, who probably at least built the one located on Elephantine Island.

They are very different than the later, larger pyramids, having no internal chambers, nor any underground structures. Among them, only the pyramid in Zawiyet el-Meiyitin was not built on the west bank of the Nile. The purpose of these pyramids is a matter of dispute among Egyptologists, though without any chambers within or below, they could probably not have been true tombs. Nor has any evidence of a funerary cult been found near these pyramids, though some believe they might have been centotaphs (fake tombs) of queens. Others believe they might have been shrines connected with the myth of Horus and Seth, or perhaps predecessors of the later sun temples, while still others believe they represented the primeval mound on which life was created. In fact, we may never completely understand their purpose, unless other evidence is uncovered.

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