STEP PYRAMID - Pharaoh Djoser - 1st Pyramid Builder - 3rd Dynasty PYRAMID OF USERKAF - 5th Dynasty PYRAMID OF UNAS - 5th Dynasty - The Pyramid Texts PYRAMID OF TETI - 6th Dynasty PYRAMID OF PEPI l & ll - 6th Dynasty PYRAMID OF DJEDKARE- ISESI - 6th Dynasty PYRAMID OF MERENRE - 6th Dynasty SERAPEUM



Saqqara is the site of the step Pyramid, the first stone pyramid. It was built by the famous architect Imhotep for Djoser, the first king of Dynasty 3. The site also contains the Dynasty 5 pyramid of King Unas. This is the first pyramid to have its burial chambercarved with the beatiful hieroglyphic inscriptions known as the Pyramid Texts. These inscriptions explain the relationship between the king and the gods and also emphasise the King's divinity. it was assumed that they would help the king ascend to and descend from the sky.

Other old Kingdom pyramids are at the site, such as that of Userkaf, the first king of the Fifth Daynasty. The pyramids of Dynasty 6 kings Pepi I and II are located to the south of Saqqara. The area also contains large and beautiful tomps of the visiers and other officials of the Old Kingdom, including those of Ptahhotep, Ti, the Two Brothers Niankhknum and Khnumhotep, and Meruruka. Saqqara is known as a rich archaeological site. We call it "the virgin land" because wherever we dig, we always find a tomb or sometimes even a pyramid. Saqqara was also important during the new Kingdom, ca. 1550 BC Memphis was the capital during the Old Kingdom, and it became the second capital in the New Kingdom, after Thebes, known today as Luxor.

There are many tombs found at Saqqara that belong to this period. The study of architecture of New Kingdom tombs has shown us two types. The first type is cut into the rock, like the tomb of Aperia that was recently found by A.Zivie, the director of a French expedition. The other type is built of mudbrick or limestone. This style of tomb is found mainly at Saqqara, with a few examples at Abydos. It is called a "temple tomb" because the architecture is similar to that of a temple. The tomb starts with a pylon as an entrance,followed by an open court with pillars, and sometimes another open court and side chapels, The tomb ends with three funerary chapels.

Saqqara, located 20 km / 12.5 mi. south of Giza, used to be the most important necropolis of Memphis, the capital city of the Old Kingdom on the opposite shore of the Nile river. It was the original burial site for the kings of the first two dynasties. It was still referred to as burial grounds during the18th and 19th dynasties.

After the 1st dynasty Upper and Lower Egypt had been unified with the help of military power. The inhabitants of the South, of Upper Egypt, invaded the Delta during the pre-dynastic periods, and Memphis would become the new capital of a unified Egypt. Saqqara, originally part of Lower Egypt, was chosen by the pharaohs as their burial grounds as it was situated near Memphis.

A set of early tombs ranging from first- to third-dynasty burial sites lies in the northernmost part of Saqqara. Mastabas made out of bricks of clay held the dead bodies of the early Egyptian monarchs.

South Saqqara

South Saqqara is completely separate from Saqqara. It is located about 1km south of the pyramid of Sekhemkhet, which is the most southern of all the pyramids in Saqqara. South Saqqara was founded in the 6th Dynasty (2345 - 2181 BC) by the pharaohs. A few of the tombs are interesting and are based on the architecture of the Pyramid of Unas. Most of the tombs have been plundered for their stones by stone-masons or their suppliers of stones.

The pyramids of Pepi I and Merenre are in complete ruin. To the east of the pyramid of Merenre is the Pyramid of Pepi II. This pyramid is surrounded by an entire funerary complex. The inner chamber contains inscriptions and stars. There are smaller pyramids in the complex as well that belonged to his queens. They are all designed the same as Pepi's and contain a miniature funerary complex as well. The Pyramid of Queen Neith has some wonderful decorations and inscriptions.

To the east of the Pepi II complex is the Mastaba Faraoun, the tomb of Shepseskaf. He was the last Pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty (2613 - 2494 BC). The inside is undecorated and large granite blocks make up the walls. The tomb looks like a huge sarcophagus from the outside. It was originally covered with a thin layer of limestone.

Further to the south are two more pyramids. The first belongs to Khendjer. This pyramid is made of brick and has a funerary complex that is made of quartzite. The second pyramid has no inscriptions and is unfinished. It has white stone chambers which are underground and a funerary chamber made of quartzite. No signs of use are found.