What Is Inside a Pyramid?

J. Debru/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Inside the Pyramids, ancient Egyptians built a series of burial chambers, ventilation shafts and passageways. The Pharaoh’s sarcophagus was placed in the king’s burial chamber. The ancient Egyptians believed that a part of the Pharaoh’s spirit remained with his body after death and so they buried with him anything that he might need in the afterlife including gold, favorite objects and pottery.

Many of the items believed to be sealed into the Pyramids with the mummified bodies of the pharaohs were not present when the pyramids were explored by archaeologists, leading to the belief that the Pyramids were looted by thieves at some point in the past. The Pyramids have hieroglyphic paintings on some of the inside walls that tell the story of the king buried there and related religious tales. The shafts built into the walls are dual purpose. They provide ventilation to the inside of the pyramid, and they also provide an exit for the Pharaoh’s soul or ka, the part of the spirit believed to stay with the body. These shafts allow the spirit of the deceased to travel through the pyramid and out to the stars. The Great Pyramid, the largest and most complex of the Pyramids, has a king’s chamber, a queen’s chamber and a third burial chamber that is unfinished.