The geography ,population and climate of Greece

The rocky coast of Greece is very uneven. 
It is about 1,500 km long. Three quarters of the Greek territory is covered in mountains.
 Numerous islands are scattered throughout the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean seas. 
These islands are the summits of mountains which were submerged millions of years ago when the Mediterranean basin was covered with water.
Mount Olympus
 Mount Olympus is the highest point in Greece (2,917 m). In mythology, this was the home of the gods. 
The Pinde mountain range runs right through the middle of the country.
  Gamilla Peak
 Gamilla Peak is covered in snow until mid-June.

The country has a total surface area of 132,000 km2.

There is a total population of 10 million inhabitants.

Greece has been- a member of OTAN since 1951.
see the map

The climate
The mountainous regions have a continental climate. The summers are hot and humid and the winters cold and snowy. 

The coastal regions and the islands have a Mediterranean climate – hot and dry in summer and mild and rainy in winter.

The Greek population 
 is made up mainly of Greeks.
There are few immigrants – some Russians who came there after the 1917 Revolution, 1% of Turks who stayed on after the Ottoman Occupation and now a few Albanians.
The population of Athens increased considerably in 1960 and consequently,
a large number of high-rise buildings grew up quickly at that time.

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important to know about Greece

Welcome to Greece

The Greek flag
It is composed of 5 stripes which symbolize the five seas (the Mediterranean, the Ionian, the Dodecanese, the Aegean, and the Thracian Seas).

National anthem
The Hellenic Republic (Elliniki Dimokratia) has a total surface area of 131,000 km2. It has a population of 10.6 million inhabitants of which almost half live in Athens, the capital. The language spoken in Greece is Greek (surprisingly!), but the Greeks are so gifted for languages that it is not unusual to find people who speak English, French and German.

The political regime

 Greece is a parliamentary pluralistic republic. Voting is compulsory in Greece and failure to do so is sanctioned by the loss of passport and driving license. There are two national holidays :

There are two national holidays
25 March
is Independence Day and celebrates the successful rebellion and subsequent independence from the Turks in 1821;
28 October
is known as Ochi Day (after the saint of that day) and commemorates the day in 1940 when the Prime Minister said no to the entry of Mussolini’s troops. The day is marked by processions of school children, students and the Greek Armed Forces.

Their motto :
Liberty or death. My strength lies in the love of my people.

Some famous Greek musicians
: Manos Hatzidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, Yannis Xenakis.

Hippocrates was the greatest physician in Ancient Greece. He founded a school of medicine on the island of Kos and devised the Hippocratic Oath, a charter of moral guidelines which doctors swear to follow.

Some famous poets :
Homer, Sophocles, Sappho.

A famous millionaire :
Aristote Onassis

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National Archaelogical Museum in Greece

  National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens (Greek: Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο) in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from the Greek antiquity worldwide .
 It is situated in the Exarhia area in central Athens between the streets Epirus, Bouboulina and Tositsa while its entrance is on the Patission Avenue adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic. Today the museum is directed by Nikolaos Kaltsas.

The first national archaeological museum in Greece was established by prime minister of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias in Aigina in 1829. Since then the archaeological collection has been moved to a number of exhibition places until 1858, when an international architectural competition was announced for the location and the architectural design of the new museum [2]. The current location was proposed and the construction of the museum's building began in 1866 and was completed in 1889 using funds from the Greek Government, the Greek Archaeological Society and the society of Mycenae. Major benefactors were Eleni Tositsa who donated the land for the building of the museum, Demetrios and Nikolaos Vernardakis from Saint Petersburg who donated a large amount for the completion of the museum.
The initial name for the museum was The Central Museum and it was renamed to its current name in 1881 by prime minister of Greece Charilaos Trikoupis . During the World War II the museum was closed and the antiquities were sealed in special protective boxes and buried, in order to avoid their destruction. In 1945 exhibits were again displayed under the direction of Christos Karouzos. The south wing of the museum houses the Epigraphic Museum with the richest collection of inscriptions in the world. The inscriptions museum expanded between 1953-1960 with the architectural designs of Patroklos Karantinos
The building
The museum has an imposing neo-classical design which was very popular in Europe at the time and is in full accordance with the classical style artifacts that it houses. The initial plan was conceived by the architect Ludwig Lange and it was later modified by Panages Kalkos who was the main architect, Harmodios Vlachos and Ernst Ziller. At the front of the museum there is a large neo-classic design garden which is decorated with sculptures .
Expansions and renovations

The building has undergone many expansions. Most important were the construction of new east wing in the early 20th century based on the plans of Anastasios Metaxas and the erection of a two-storeyed building, designed by George Nomikos, in 1932-1939. These expansions were necessary to accommodate the rapidly expanding collection of artifacts. The most recent refurbishment of the museum took more than 1.5 years to complete, during which the museum remained completely closed. It reopened in July 2004, in time for the Athens Olympics and it included aesthetic and technical upgrade of the building, installation of a modern air-conditioning system, reorganisation of the museum's collection and repair of the damage that the 1999 earthquake left to the building. The Minoan frescoes rooms opened to the public in 2005. Today, there is a renewed discussion regarding the need to further expand the museum to adjacent areas.

The museum's collections are organized in sections :
  • Prehistoric collection (Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean)
  • Sculptures collection
  • Vase and Minor Objects Collection
  • Santorini findings
  • Metallurgy Collection
  • Stathatos Collection
  • Vlastos Collection
  • Egyptian Art collection donated by Demetrios Ioannou and Alexander Rostovich
  • Near Eastern Antiquities Collection
Some of the ancient artists whose work is presented in the museum are Myron, Scopas, Euthymides, Lydos, Agoracritus, Agasias, Cimon of Cleonae, Damophon, Aison (vase painter), Polygnotos (vase painter).
Collections include sculpture work, Loutrophoros, amphora, Hydria, Skyphos, Krater, Pelike, and lekythos vessels, Stele, frescoes, jewellery, weapons, tools, coins, toys and other ancient items.
Artifacts derive from archaeological excavations in Santorini, Mycenae, Tiryns, Dodona, Vaphio, Rhamnous, Lycosura, Aegean islands, Delos, the Temple of Aphaea in Aegina, the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, Pylos, Thebes, Athens, the Antikythera wreck and from various other places across Greece.
The museum houses the archaic terracota statuette daidala that inspired the designers of the 2004 Athens Olympics maskots Athena and Phevos.
Two of the newest exhibits of the museum include a 4th century BC golden funenary wreath and a 6th century BC marble statue of a woman, which were returned as stolen artifacts to Greece in 2008 by the Getty Museum in California, after a 10 year-old legal dispute between the Getty Center and the Greek Government . One year earlier, the Los Angeles foundation agreed to return a 4th century BC tombstone from near Thebes and a 6th century BC votive relief from the island of Thassos .
There is also a large number of artifacts that are currently not exhibited, at the museum's vast storage rooms.
Two of the newest exhibits of the museum include a 4th century BC golden funenary wreath and a 6th century BC marble statue of a woman, which were returned as stolen artifacts to Greece in 2008 by the Getty Museum in California, after a 10 year-old legal dispute between the Getty Center and the Greek Government . One year earlier, the Los Angeles foundation agreed to return a 4th century BC tombstone from near Thebes and a 6th century BC votive relief from the island of Thassos .
picture from National Archaelogical Museum in Greece
Early Cycladic 3200-2200 BC Found in Naxos
Early Cycladic pottery from 2800-2300 BC Found in Syros
16th Century BC Mask found in Mycenae often erroneously called the Mask of Agamemnon
14th to 13th Century Wall Painting from Tiryns
Aphrodite, Pan and Eros marble statue
 200AD marble head found in Theater of Dionysious in Athens
 Bronze statue of Emperor Augustus from around 12-10 BC

 350-325 BC funerary sculpture of the warrior Aristonautes
1st century BC head of Dionysious
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The Acropolis museum

The Museum stands in the southeastern corner of the Acropolis and houses priceless archaeological finds kept in chronological order, starting with the Archaic (800-600 B.C.), and going to the Classical (500- 400 B.C.), Hellenistic (300 B.C.) and Roman periods. Among other outstanding works of art housed in the Museum's 9 rooms are sculptures and sculptured reliefs from the pediments, frieze and metopes of the Parthenon, the Erechtheio and the Temple of Athena Nike. Also on display is the unique collection of the "Kore" statues (young girls with the characteristic Archaic smile). Room exhibits the famous "Moschophoros", a man bearing a calf on his shoulders. This is an exceptionally fine work, noted for its composition and elasticity of form.
In Room V are pedimental figures of the "Gigantomachia", or Battle of the Giants from the old Temple of Athena, built by the Peisistratids. More works of the so-called "Severe Style" are on display in Room VI, among them a sculptured relief showing a "Contemplating Athena" who seems absorbed in her thoughts as she is resting her head on her spear. The most characteristic of works belonging to the "severe" style are the "Kritias Boy", and the "blond boy", so called because of the yellow colour of the hair.
In Room IV are the majority of the "Kore" statues, among them the "Peplos Kori", so called from the girded Dorian peplos (mantle) she wears over her chiton. The statue is famous both for its facial expression and its original colours.

Acropolis Museum Pictures

Base of a statue dedicated to the chorus leader Atravos,
in tribute to his victory in theatrical contest.

Atarvos Base
Prokne and her dead son Itys.
Attributed to Alkamenes.

Prokne and Itys

The original Caryatids (Caryatides) statues from the Erechtheion
protected behind glass in the Acropolis Museum.

The original Caryatids (Caryatides) statues from the Erechtheion
protected behind glass in the Acropolis Museum.

Lioness attacking a cow. From an unknown temple on the Acropolis
Limestone, c. 600 BCE (Acropolis Museum)
Lioness and Cow Pediment
Hercules killing the Hydra. Iolaos on the left is on the chariot
Shalow relief, original vividly painted, from the pediment
of an unknown building on the Acropolis.

Limestone, c. 600 BCE (Acropolis Museum)
Hercules and Hydra Pediment

Herakles at Olympus, in front of Zeus (seated), Hera, and Athena (missing). Hermes stands at the far right. From an unknown building on the Acropolis.
Limestone, c. 550-540 BCE (Acropolis Museum)
Herakles Pediment

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map of greece


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History of Greece

The infinite variety of the landscape of mainland Greece, ranging from snow-capped rugged mountains to sun drenched idyllic beaches, is equalled, if not surpassed, by the beauty of the seascape of almost one thousand five hundred islands scattered over the translucent waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Close to eleven million inhabitants live on the 132.160 square kilometres, which are blessed by a temperate climate under the blue sky of the Mediterranean.

Five thousand years of dramatic history have left their indelible imprint, rivalling nature in its diversity, from the Minoan palaces, Mycenaean fortresses, classical temples, Hellenistic tombs, Roman towns, Byzantine churches, Crusader castles, Turkish mosques and the picturesque villages of the distinctive island architecture to the pleasing modernity of the main cities, spas and summer resorts.

Each region displays a characteristic brand of natural and artistic features, which, nevertheless, only serve to emphasise the unity of Europe's oldest culture, the cradle of western civilisation. No wonder that a people looking back on such a glorious past has preserved in its purest and most welcome form the traditional hospitality towards all strangers visiting their lovely country.

Between 4.000 and 3.000 B.C. the Minoans settled in the southern island of Crete, with 3.327 square miles Greece's largest, and founded one of the most brilliant and sophisticated civilisations of antiquity, and Europe's first. Mythology and history blend in the Priest -King Minos, the legendary son of Zeus, ruler of the Olympian gods, and Europa, the lovely princess after whom the continent is named.

From his splendid palace at Knossos, successive Minos ruled the world's first naval empire, which was destroyed by the eruption of the island volcano of Thira, a Cretan colony, in about 1450 B.C. According to some archaeologists this was the lost island of Atlantis, and the recent discovery of a whole town under 160 feet of lava and pumice lends credibility to this theory.

History then shifts to the mainland, where for a thousand years Hellenic tribes, Pelasgians, Achaeans, Aeolians and Ionians had infiltrated from the north, subdued the native Celts and established numerous small principalities following the country's natural division by impassable mountain ranges.

In the eighth century B.C. the great epic poet Homer was to immortalise the Mycenaean age in the Iliad and Odyssey, the story of the Trojan War fought by Achilles, Odysseus and countless other heroes under the leadership of the High King Agamemnon to bring back the beautiful Helen,
wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Long believed to be nothing but poetic fantasy, the German amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann vindicated Homer's historical accuracy by following the poets geographical indications to the letter to unearth in the 1870s the palaces and towns of the epic cycle.

In about 1100B.C. the magnificent Bronze Age civilisation of the Mycenaeans tour fell to the iron weapons of a pew invader from the north, the blond, blue-eyed Dorians. Warlike feudal kingdoms emerged from the Dark Ages at the dawn of recorded history in the ninth century B.C. and in the following six-hundred years the Greeks tried and often invented every political system the human mind has as yet conceived. As a tribute to their experimentations, most forms of government still bear the Greek name indicative of their origin.
Tribal, feudal, absolute and constitutional monarchy, landed and commercial oligarchy, Spartan racism followed by a short spell of communism,
dictatorships of all kinds, democracy where the active participation of all citizens was possible due to slavery, decline into demagogy which made the anachronistic city states an easy prey to the unified Macedonian kingdom of Philip, who laid the foundations on which his son Alexander the Greatcould build his world empire.

The great names in this period are Lycurgus, who imposed a totalitarian way of life on Sparta in the eighth century B.C.; Dracon and Solon, the latter one of the Seven Wise of Antiquity, who brought law and order to Athens in the two subsequent centuries; Miltiades, who defeated the Persians at Marathon in 490 B.C.in one of the decisive battles in the eternal struggle between Europe and Asia; Themistocles, who brought this struggle to a victorious climax at the battle of Salamis 10 years later, by the use of seapower which assured Athens of mastery in the Aegean for the entire fifth century B.C. Yet like his predecessor Miltiades, who had died in prison, he fell a victim to the jealousy of his ungrateful Athenian compatriots, who not only ostracised him -exile for ten years without any accusation and thus no means of defence -but eventually condemned him to death, so that the saviour of Greece had to seek refuge at the court of the Persian king he had so brilliantly defeated; and Pausanias, the Spartan regent who finally drove the Persians from Greek soil in the battle of Plataea in 479 B.C., but succumbed to Persian bribes and was stoned to death, his mother reputedly throwing the first stone.

The billiant generalship of Kimon extended the Athenian empire along the shores of Asia Minor, so that when he in his turn was ostracised in 461 B.C., Pericles presided over the Golden Age of unparalleled intellectual and artistic achievements coinciding with a political decline, almost imperceptible at first, but leading to the outbreak of the disastrous Peloponnesian War (431-404 B. C.) in which the personification of Greek virtues and vices, Alcibiades, played the leading part.

The year of Athens' final defeat and humiliation also witnessed his murder.

Spartan dominance was challenged in the next century by the military genius of Epaminondas, who briefly established Theban supremacy by introducing a new fighting force, the phalanx, which was perfected by Philip of Macedonia and assured his victory over the for once united Greek city states at Chaeronea in 338 B.C. Philip generously forgave his main opponent, the Athenian orator Demosthenes, who yet succeeded in persuading the Greeks to another stand against the Macedonians after Philip's murder two years later.

Young Alexander, who ruthlessly destroyed Thebes but spared Athens for its cultural prestige, swiftly crushed the insurrection. He forced the reluctant Greek states to follow him in his expedition into Persia and in 334 B.C. he crossed the Hellespont at the head of a mere 40.000 men to the greatest conquest the world had ever seen. In eleven years of unbroken victories, Alexander founded an empire that stretched from the Ionian Sea to beyond the Indus, and from the Upper Nile to the Caspian Sea. But the centre of gravity had shifted from Macedonia to Babylon, where Alexander died in 323 B.C., having failed in welding Greeks and Persians into a new imperial master race.

In the deadly struggle for the succession, Demetrius Poliorcetes (Besieger of Towns) lost Asia but gained the Greek-Macedonian kingdom, over which the Antigonid dynasty ruled precariously till the Roman conquest in 146 B.C. Yet Greece achieved a remarkable cultural conquest-in-reverse, and the Roman empire became impregnated with the higher art and thought of Greece, to which the Roman aristocracy sent its sons for education in the schools of Athens and Rhodes.

In exchange the Romans used Greece as the battleground for the momentous civil wars of the first century B.C. In 48 B.C. Julius Caesar at Pharsala in Thessaly crushingly defeated Pompey's numerically superior army. In 42 B.C. Brutus kept his fatal appointment with Caesar's ghost at Philippi in Macedonia, where Brutus and Cassius committed suicide, while Mark Antony and Octavian divided the world in preparation for the final round. That came in 31 B.C. at the naval battle of Actium, where Cleopatra precipitate Mark Antony into unreasonable flight and another double suicide, leaving Octavian sole ruler and at last able to establish the Pax Romana for some four hundred years.

The Roman emperors varied in the treatment of their most precious province from Nero, who shipped priceless statues by the hundred to Italy, to fladrian, who munificently embellished the venerable centres of culture. Roman tourists flocked to the famous sites, so not quite in the same numbers as today.
In the partition of the Roman Empire in the fourth century A.D., Greece was allotted to the Eastern Empire. The new capital, Constantinople, was adorned with the spoils from Greece, while pious Byzantine emperors closed the pagan universities and temples. Successive waves of barbaric tribes, Goths, Huns, Vandals and Avars ravaged the country with fire and sword, joined by Saracen pirates, bringing in their wake Slav settlers who threatened to engulf the mainland till Vasilios the Bulgar-Slayer decisively stopped the flood.
After the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, feudalism returned to the country, which had experienced an earlier version in Mycenaean times. Under the nominal suzerainty of the Latin emperor, the Frankish lords were fighting each other as much as the renascent Byzantines, Bulgarians, Serbs, Catalan mercenaries and soon the advance guard of the Turks. The dying Byzantine empire achieved a final but hollow triumph with the reconquest of the Peloponnese in 1430, where two brothers of the last emperor ruled for another six years after his death in the defence of his capital. But in 1460 they were driven out by Sultan Mohammed II, who replaced the Frankish and Byzantine nobles with Turkish veterans. The Greek peasants remained serfs, paying besides tithes a poll-tax and a blood tribute of a fifth of their male children, who were brought up as Moslems and enrolled in the corps of Janissaries, the military elite of the Turkish armies. The frequent incursions and temporary occupation by the Venetians only worsened the lot. of the wretched inhabitants, whose only protector was their recognised representative, the Patriarch of Constantinople, while the bishops provided local guidance and the parochial clergy the little education there was.

In their decline the Turks became only interested in the collection of tribute, while the country was reduced to a state of anarchy, from which a military adventurer, Ali Pasha, was able to carve, by unscrupulous treachery and merciless cruelty, a private principality centred on Epirus, where he was visited by Lord Byron. After forty years he was finally reduced by the Turks, but not before the Greek War of Independence had started in 1821.
On the 25th of March, the feast of the Annunciation, the Archbishop of Patras proclaimed Greek independence at the Monastery of Aghia Lavra in the Peloponnese. The Turks retaliated with the massacres of Greeks on Chios, in Macedonia and Constantinople, where the Patriarch was hanged on Easter Sunday.

Lord Byron
Lord Byron
The heroic expoits of the Greeks inspired numerous Philhellenic volunteers, especially British, among them Lord Byron who died in Messologi. The intervention by an Egyptian army and fleet in support of the Turks led in 1825 to the formation of a Triple Alliance of Great Britain, France and Russia, whose navy decisively defeated the Turco-Egyptian force at Navarino two years later.
The Protocol of London in 1832 established the frontier of the reborn Greek state, first a republic under the Corfiote nobleman Capodistria, who had for a time been the Czar's foreign minister, and after his murder as a kingdom under the young Bavarian Prince, Otto. After a bloodless revolution in 1843, which culminated in the proclamation of a liberal constitution, Otto was forced to abdicate in 1863.

An overwhelming majority voted to offer the vacant throne to Queen Victoria's second son, the Duke of Edinburgh. But the dynasties of the three Protecting Powers were excluded, and the acceptance of their joint choice, Prince George of Denmark, was made popular by the session of the Ionian Islands by Great Britain to Greece. 1n 1881 Thessaly was incorporated in the Kingdom of the Hellenes, but the Cretan uprising in 1897 led to an unsuccessful war with Turkey and in the following year to the granting of full autonomy to Crete under purely nominal Turkish suzerainty.

The two Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 almost doubled Greece's territory and population, but in the interval King George I was murdered in the newly conquered Thessalonica. His son and heir, King Constantine lacked his father's political foresight; having received his military training in Germany he believed in the final victory of the German Emperor William II, whose sister he had married. The Allies intervened and forced King Constantine to leave the country where his second son, Alexander, became king.

In 1920 he died of blood-poisoning from a monkey bite, and by another of the many plebiscites King Constantine was recalled. After a disastrous war with the resurgent Turks in Asia Minor, in defence of the vast gains made by the Treaty of Sevres, Greece had to resign itself to the frontier of the Evros river in Thrace and an unprecedented exchange of populations, 1,500.000 Greeks against 370.000 Turks, which burdened the small country tremendous social and economic problems. Kind Constantine abdicated now in favour of his eldest son, who briefly ruled as George II before the proclamation of a republic in 1924. But the King was recalled by another plebiscite in 1935, only to leave the country again in 1941 after a heroic resistance against the Italians and Germans.

Returning as the result of the plebiscite of 1946, in the lull between two, Communist rebellions, George II died the following year, before the end of the Civil War in 1949 in the reign of his brother, King Paul, who was succeed in 1964 by his son, King Constantine.

Continual cabinet crises led to the military Revolution of the 21st April 1967 and in December of the same year the King left the country.
The military regime in Athens resigned July 23, 1974. Former President Caramanlis returned to Athens and was sworn in as Premier of Greece's first civilian government since 1967. Since 1981 Greece is an E.U. member country. So long and varied a history naturally left splendid architectural and artistic remains scattered al lover the country.

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The Great Pyramid of Menkaure at Giza

Menkaure apparently intended for his pyramid on the Giza Plateau to be the last of that specific area of the Memphite necropolises which it is, as well as being the smallest. The valley temple lies at the mouth of the main wadi, closing what had been the principal conduit for construction materials brought to Giza for three generations. Named "Menkaure is Divine", the pryamid was thought by some Greeks, according to Herodotus, to belong to the Greek hertaera Rhodopis. Manetho thought that it belonged to Psamtik I's beautiful daughter, Nitokris.

Artist's impression of the main pyramid complex
Diodorus Siculus first described the inscription that bears the name of Mykerinos on this pyramid, but it was not until Vyse in 1837 that anyone actually entered Menkaure's pyramid. He began by investigating its substructure by following a tunnel dug earlier by Caviglia out of a breach in the north wall. The original entrance was not discovered until later. Surprisingly, Lepsius paid almost no attention to this pyramid, and even Petrie worked on it for only a short period in the 1880s. Luckily, George Resiner who was one of the most advanced archaeologists of his time, won the concession for Menkaure's pyramid when archaeologists drew lots for excavating Giza on the balcony of the Mena House Hotel in 1899. He knew beforehand that this pyramid, though small, could provide some rich finds because his assistant, Arthur Mace, had reconnoitered the site. He began a very thorough excavation of the entire complex in 1906 directing a team from Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Those excavations continued until 1924.
Menkaure's pyramid, with its original height of some 65-66 meters, represents only about 1/10th of the mass we find in Khufu's pyramid. However, this may be the result of a theology which dictated more emphasis on the temples and less on the pyramid, a process evident to us already in the reign of Khafre which continued throughout the Old Kingdom.

Layout of the whole pyramid complex
The Valley Temple
The reconstruction of Menkaure's valley temple is more difficult than any other element within his pyramid complex. The west part of the limestone block base and lower part of the core of the temple's north wall were probably completed during the ruler's lifetime, while the remaining clay masonry would be attributable to his son, Shepseskaf. Just behind the portal to the temple there was a square antechamber adorned with four columns. The alabaster (calcite) bases of these columns, pressed into the clay floor, have been preserved. On either side of this room are four storerooms. Behind the entrance antechamber, the whole middle part of the valley temple consisted of a huge open courtyard with inner walls decorated with niches (similar to the mortuary temple's courtyard). A path, paved with limestone slabs, ran from the pillared antechamber through the center of the courtyard to a low stairway, which in turn led through a portico with two rows of wooden columns. This terminated at an offering hall, in which an alabaster altar may have once stood. To the north of the offering hall were twelve storerooms, and to its south were five additional storerooms. This was the area where Reisner found the famous, mostly triad statues of the ruler, along with four unfinished statuettes of Menkaure, fragments of other statues and stone vessels. Three of the statues discovered by Reisner depicted the goddess Hathor on the ruler's right side, with divinities symbolizing three Upper Egyptian nomes on his left. These may have been part of a larger collection of statues for each of the provinces of Egypt, or perhaps only the nomes that provided endowments for the complex.
Perhaps curiously, the function of the valley temple changed over time. Reisner retraced the process by which houses of the pyramid town first crowded up against the front wall of the temple, and then began to be built within it. People began living in the temple itself, particularly in the courtyard, where grain storehouses and lodgings were built.
 Perhaps as early as the 5th Dynasty, the temple was badly damaged by water after a particularly heavy rain tore away the temple's west side. Reisner believes that the temple was rebuilt, at least roughly, during the reign of Pepi II.
More recently, an Egyptian archaeologist, Selim Hassan, while excavating the nearby tomb complex of queen Khentkaues I, discovered a small brick structure with a platform, low benches and a small drainage canal, together with a basin at the northeast corner of Menkaure's valley temple. Stored there were a large number of flint blades and stone vessels. Some Egyptologists believe that this structure was used for a "purification ten" and was only a part of a larger structure where the mummification ritual took place.
Another modification of the valley temple was a brick structure built in front of the temple's west wall. It may have provided a widened portal, giving better access between the temple and the pyramid town.
The Causeway
The causeway of this pyramid complex leading from the Valley temple to the Mortuary Temple was most likely completed by Shepseskaf. It had floors made of limestone blocks and highly compressed clay mixed with limestone fragments. The mudbrick walls that were a little more than two meters thick supported a roof. Reisner believed that the roof was made of wooden beams and mats because he found the remains of such material at the end of the causeway. However, others Egyptologists, because of the width of the side walls and architectural elements of nearby tombs of close family members, believed that there would have been a vaulted roof of brickwork. Nevertheless, the causeway was never completed. Work seems to have stopped at the point where it meets the west side of the old Khufu quarry. From there to down to the valley temple, the causeway was probably never more than a construction ramp for delivering stone. Hence, we really do not know how it was to connect to the valley temple. Yet some Egyptology resources believe that it would have not begun at the west part of the valley temple, but rather would have actually run along its whole south side and part of its west side. They believe it was even accessible from the storerooms in the valley temple's southern section.
The Mortuary Temple
Like Menkaure's predecessors on the Giza Plateau, his mortuary temple was not built adjacent to his pyramid's east wall. The original temple obviously remained partially uncompleted, we believe, as a result of Menkaure's sudden death. Menkaure began this mortuary temple, as had Khafre, with core blocks of limestone that were locally quarried. The heaviest of these, found at the northwest corner of the temple, is the heaviest known at Giza, weighing some 200 tons. 

Mortuary Temple (Bottom) at the time of Menkaure's death
and (above) after Shepseskaf completed it.
Though we know the mortuary temple had an almost square ground plan, its appearance can only be partially reconstructed. Reisner believed that an entrance corridor led from the east terminating in an open courtyard that was meant to be ornamented by pillars. The inside wall of this courtyard was lined with plastered and whitewashed brickwork decorated with niches, which was probably added by his successor in order to complete the temple after Menkaure's death. There was also a small shrine built within the courtyard, that Reisner also dated to the reign of Shepseskaf.
In the west part of the temple, a portico made up of two rows of pillars provided access to a long offering hall. According to Reisner, there was a false door in the offering hall's west wall. However, because of statuary fragments, and the fact that the temple was not immediately adjacent to the pyramid, scholars such as Maragioglio and Rinaldi rejected the idea of a false door, instead seeing a statue of the ruler standing in its stead. They do believe that a false door existed, but that it stood on a small, pink granite platform in front of the pyramid's east wall. In Maragioglio and Rinaldi's view, it would have at first been easily accessible from the east wing of the pyramid's courtyard, before additional rooms were built in the area.
A limestone altar and fragments, including a head, chest, lap, knees and shins of a seated statue of Menkaure, rendered in pink granite were found in the five, two story magazines that form a northwestern part of the mortuary temple. This statue was perhaps meant to be the centerpiece of this entire complex. Originally it stood at the back of a tall and narrow east-west hall at the end of the center axis of the temple, so that the king looked across the open country, through the entrance hall, and down the line of the causeway to the land of the living. The southwest part of the temple remained uncompleted.
Reisner, as well as other Egyptologists, thought that the whole mortuary temple was originally meant to be constructed of pink granite. In fact, we can see that Menkaure's masons had just started bringing in a series of granite blocks on both sides of the corridor. They were cutting back the large limestone core blocks to ensure that the front faces of the granite blocks were flush. When Reisner removed the mudbrick from the casing he found bright red paint on the core blocks marking leveling lines, measurements and the names of the work gangs. However, Ricke rejected this analysis, believing that only the dado was to be made of this fine stone. Irregardless, the temple was not completed by Menkaure, but by his son, using mudbrick, evidenced by an inscription on one of the fragments of a stela that Reisner discovered.
Interestingly, there was also within the mortuary temple a small square room with a single pillar. It had a strikingly similar appearance to the antechamber carree that actually first appears in the mor4tuary temples of the 5th Dynasty pyramids.
Some elements within the temple may even be dated beyond the reign of Menkaure's son, including the stelae of Merenre I and Pepi I.
The Pyramid Proper

Isometric drawing of the pyramid chambers
Menkaure's pyramid lies at the far end of the Giza diagonal on the very edge of the Mokattam Formation, where it dips down to the south and disappears into the younger Maadi Formation. Just as with his father, Khafre's nearby pyramid, Menkaure's construct had to have a very well prepared rock subsurface, particularly around the northeast corner. This base is two and one half meters higher than his father's pyramid and and occupies a mere quarter of the area consumed by Khafre and Khufu's pyramids. It has a core of local limestone blocks, with casing made of unfinished pink granite from Aswan up to a height of about fifteen meters. Further up, the casing was probably made of fine, Turah limestone. Because completely finished casing blocks would have probably been damaged during transport and installation, particularly at their edges, the final finishing touches were not completed until the very end of the construction process. This also made it possible to achieve a very accurate fitting along the whole surface of the pyramid walls. There is an inscription on the granite casing of the north wall that dates from the Late period, and may be the one mentioned by Diodorus.
Original access was provided to the inner chambers by an entrance on the axis of the north wall, about four meters above ground level. From there, a descending corridor, only partially lined with pink granite, sloped down at an angle of a little more than 26 degrees for 31 meters through the masonry core to the chambers below. This "lower corridor" terminates in a room with walls that were provided with niches. The purpose of this unusual room is still debated among scholars. However, the niches represent the first purely decorative element inside a pyramid since Djoser's Step Pyramid at Saqqara. At the beginning of the next corridor, there is a granite barrier that is made of three blocks that were lowered after its completion. The following corridor continues at a slight downward angle until it comes out in a relatively small, east-west oriented upper antechamber with wall that are completely undecorated. The east end of this chamber is located directly under the vertical axis of the pyramid.
Here, another passageway known as the "upper corridor" runs over the "lower corridor" through a short horizontal section before climbing in a north-south direction into the pyramid
core, were it terminates. It is very likely that this double corridor system signals a change in the original construction plans. The "upper corridor" was probably abandoned when the floor of the antechamber was lowered. From this, Petrie believed that the original pyramid was only about half the size that it is today, though others such as Stadelmann doubt his analysis.
In fact, the substructure of this pyramid underwent significant changes. Investigations of both this pyramid, and the tombs of his royal family that are closest in time (Mastabat Faraun and Khentkaues I's stepped tomb) point to the development of these subchambers in three phases, during which the original plan was enlarged.
In the antechamber, Vyse unearthed the remains of an anthropoid wooden coffin with, Menkaure's name Within were human bones. Most scholars today believe this coffin was inserted, perhaps in an effort of restoration, into the pyramid during the Saite period late in Egypt's ancient history. However, the bone fragments were even more recent as revealed by radio carbon dating, that shows hat they probably date to the Coptic Christian period of some two thousand years ago. There is a rectangular indention in the west section of the antechamber floor, suggesting that a sarcophagus may have once been intended for this room.
However, from the middle of the floor of the antechamber, another granite corridor leads downward before becoming horizontal shortly before the actual burial chamber. Just before the entrance to the burial chamber, a short flight of steps leads to an area with six small, deep niches, sometimes known as the "cellar", which has an undetermined function, though there is a similarity to architectural elements in the Mastabat Faraun of Shepseskaf and the stepped tomb of Queen Khentkaues I. Four of the niches are on the east side, and Ricke believed that these were to hold the four canopic vessels containing Menkaure's entrails. He believed that the two additional niches on the north side may have been graced with the crowns of Upper and Lower
Egypt. However, others believe it may be a forerunner of the three chambers to the left (east) in the standardized substructures of 5th and 6th Dynasty pyramids, though it may have simply been used to store funerary equipment and supplies.
Unlike the pyramids of his father and grandfather (Khufu), the rectangular burial chamber is oriented north-south. It is completely covered in pink granite, including even the gabled ceiling, which was actually hollowed out from beneath to make a round, barrel vault. The chamber lies some 15.5 meters beneath the level of the pyramid's base so that the ceiling could be constructed of nine pairs of enormous granite blocks. This construction was carried out after the modification of the plan for the substructure, which made it both difficult and laborious to complete. It required a large descending tunnel to be built in the west part of the upper antechamber, from which visitors today may actually view the top of the vaulted burial chamber.
It is very possible that both the granite burial chamber and the set of niches were built after the after the death of Menkaure on the instructions of his son and successor, Shepseskaf.
On the burial chamber's west wall, Vyse discovered a wonderful, dark basalt sarcophagus that was decorated with niches in the palace facade style. The sarcophagus was empty, and its lid was missing. However, fragments of the lid were discovered, which indicate that it was ornamented with a concave cornice. Ricke saw in this design certain similarities with the decorations in shrines dedicated to the god Anubis, and thought that they were an attempt to provide additional protection for the tomb by means of that divinity. Alas, we are left with only drawing of this piece of funerary equipment, for the ship, Beatrice, which was taking it from Egypt to the British Museum leaving Leghorn sank somewhere between Malta and Spain in 1838. Fortunately, the anthropoid coffin was sent in a separate ship that reached its destination.
Interestingly, in contrast to Khufu's and Khafre's pyramids, there have been no boat pits discovered in relationship to Menkaure's pyramid, despite intensive investigation by an Egyptian archaeologist named Abdel Aziz Saleh, who obviously thought that they should exist.
Already in the late 1630s, the English scholar and traveler John Greaves noted that the casing had largely been removed. The destruction of the pyramid lasted well into the 19th century, when Muhammad Ali Pasha (1805-1848) used some of the pink granite blocks taken from its casing to construct the arsenal in Alexandria.
The Three Queen's Pyramids
Notable on the Giza Plateau are the three much smaller subsidiary that stand in a row along the south wall of the principal pyramid. Designated G 3a-c, archaeologist attribute them to Menkaure's royal consorts. Of these, only G 3a was a true pyramid, the other two having a four step core, and some Egyptologists believe that it functioned as a cult pyramid, though it was also clearly used for a burial. All three of these pyramids were surrounded by a common perimeter wall.
 The Three Queen's Pyramids, from left to right: G 3c, G 3b and G 3a
G 3a, the easternmost, of these pyramids, actually had a small, east-west oriented mortuary temple of its own that was accessible from it's pyramid's courtyard. This mortuary temple was probably partially built of limestone, but was hastily finished with mudbrick. The west end of the mortuary temple was dominated by a fairly large, open courtyard that had niches built into its northern wall. On its south side was a row of wooden columns. A small cult chapel with an entrance adorned with deep, double niches to either side, lead into an offering room that included a false door. storage annexes were located in the northwest part of the temple, and in the southwest a staircase led to the roof terrace.
Pyramid G 3a was the largest of the three constructs, with an entrance situated in the middle of the north wall, only a little above ground level. It has a substructure consisting of a burial chamber dug from the rock under the center of the pyramid's base, which communicates with a descending entrance corridor equipped with a barrier. This burial chamber was originally equipped with a pink granite sarcophagus, embedded in the floor next to the west wall. Unfortunately, it soon fell prey to tomb robbers. There were also fragments of ceramics and charred remains of wood and matting found in this chamber.
We really have little idea who was interred in Pyramid G 3a. Reisner thought that it might be Menkaure's principal consort, Khamerernebti II, but based on a statue of that queen found in the so-called Galarza tomb in the central part of the Giza necropolis, others believe that she was buried alongside her mother, Khamerernebti I in that tomb. In fact, it is not impossible that this pyramid was originally simply a cult pyramid that was latter transformed into a tomb.
Besides being smaller, and lacking the shape of a true pyramid, G 3b also differs in other details. These include the placement of the descending corridor, which lacks a barrier. The bones of a young woman were found in the pink granite sarcophagus which stood against the west wall of the burial chamber that was located under the northwest part of the pyramid. Like G 3a, it also had a small mortuary temple, though in this case it was oriented north-south.
G 3c was never completed with its casing. Like G 3b, the burial chamber was constructed under the northwest part of the pyramid, and was likewise not finished. Though no burial was found within this pyramid, there was clear evidence of a cult following in the small mortuary temple that stood in front of the east side of this pyramid. Also like G 3b, this mudbrick structure was oriented north-south.
Unfortunately, the owners of G 3b-c are completely lost to us and may never be known. We are relatively certain that they were consorts of Menkaure, but otherwise there no information on these royal women.
Recent Excavations
Recent excavations by Mark Lehner's team near the valley temple have again begun to uncover this vast city of workers who built and maintained the pyramids for generations afterwards. Since 1988, excavations have been concentrated around the area about 300m south of the Sphinx and the gigantic structure known as the 'Wall of the Crow', near to a recently discovered 'worker's cemetery'. So far they have uncovered bakeries, a copper workshop, and worker's houses which, in the year 2000 were found to belong to a vast royal complex comprising huge galleries or corridors, separated by a paved street. This may have lead to a Royal Palace.
Other recent excavations around the pyramid of Menkaure have been conducted by the Egyptian Antiquities Organization in search of evidence of the king's funerary boats and the pyramid's construction ramp. They have discovered an unfinished double-statue of Ramesses II, sculpted from a single block of stone and measuring over three meters in height. This was the first large, New Kingdom statues to be discovered at Giza, and yet another mystery.

Main Pyramid
Original name: Menkaure is Divine
Date of construction: 4th dynasty
Original height: 66.45 meters
Angle of inclination: 51o 20'
Lengths of sides of base 104.6 meters
Length of Causeway 608 Meters

Pyramid G 3a
Original height: 28.4 meters
Angle of inclination: 52o 15'
Length of sides of base: 44 meters

Pyramid G 3b
Length of sides of base: 31.24 meters

Pyramid G 3c
Length of sides of base: 31.24 meters

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