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Memphite Necropolis

Memphis - Capital Cities

What: The place where the Pharaohs, their Royal Families and the Nobles, who used Memphis as their Capital City tended to
be buried, containing 38 Pyramids and 9,000 Rock Cut Tombs

Where: The Necropolis spread from the North at Giza to the South at Dahshur, and in the middle of the two is Saqqara, almost opposite Memphis itself

When: First Pyramid was constructed c2650BC – 2nd Dynasty (2890–2686BC) to the Greco-Roman Period. Saqqara holds the location of the first Egyptian Pyramid, that of Pharaoh Djoser; Dahshur is the site of Egypt’s “Bent” Pyramid; while Giza holds
the largest and best-known Pyramids

Why: To ensure that the Pharaohs are not forgotten

 

Photograph to Right: Top of Giza Pyramid

Saqqara

Located 30km south of Cairo and opposite the ancient Capital of Memphis. The desert area known as Saqqara contains the following:

Early Dynastic Period

Buried Pyramid

Who: Pharaoh Sekhemkhet
What: Unfinished Step Pyramid
When: Approx. 2645 BC during the 3rd Dynasty

The Great Enclosure

What: 10m high Rectangular Walled enclosure which has massive walls which are 15m wide
Who: Thought to be Pharaoh Khasekhemwy of the 2nd Dynasty

Tomb B

What: Underground Gallery beneath the Funeral Passage of Pharaoh Unas’ Necropolis
Who: Tomb of Pharaoh Hotepsekhemwy or his successor Pharaoh Nebra
When: 2nd Dynasty

Tomb of Pharaoh Nynetjer

What: Underground Gallery Tomb. Later reused as a burial for a woman’s coffin from the Ramesside Period
Where: Underneath the Cortege Passage for Pharaoh Unas’ Necropolis
When: 2nd Dynasty

Step Pyramid of Djoser

What: Central building of the vast Mortuary Complex for Pharaoh Djoser. A 6 Tier and 4-sided Step Pyramid and the earliest stone building of this sort of size in Egypt
When: 3rd Dynasty

Old Kingdom Period

Mastaba of Pharaoh Shepseskaf

What: Funerary Complex with the central construction of the Stepped Mastaba
When: 4th Dynasty
Size: 18m High with a Base of 99.6m by 74.4m

Pyramid of Pharaoh Userkaf

What: True sided Pyramid and Mortuary Complex with a Mortuary Temple, Offering Chapel and a Cult Pyramid with reciprocal buildings for Pharaoh’s Chief Royal Wife, Queen Neferhetepes
When: 2490BC: 5th Dynasty

Pyramid of Djedkare

What: True sided Pyramid and Mortuary Complex with a Mortuary Temple, Valley Temple, a Cult Pyramid and a partially built Causeway; with reciprocal buildings for Pharaoh’s Chief Royal Wife, Queen Setibhor
When: 5th Dynasty

Mastaba Tomb of Khnumhotep & Niankhkhnum

Who: Royal Servants who had the title of Overseer of the Manicurists in the Palace of Pharaoh Nyuserre Ini of the 5th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Unas

What: Smallest Old Kingdom Pyramid but is highly significant due to the Pharaoh inscribing the Pyramid texts on its interior. There was a whole complex including a Causeway and a Valley Temple
When: 5th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Menkauhor

What: The small Pyramid of Pharaoh Menkauhor which enjoyed a Funerary Cult for up to 150 year after his death
When: 5th Dynasty
Size: 50m high with a base of 50m
Also known: The Headless Pyramid or the Pyramid of Lepsius XXIX

Pyramid of Pharaoh Teti

What: Pyramid at the centre of a Complex including; a satellite Pyramid, 2 Pyramids for his Queens, Funerary Temple and Cult structures. 2nd Pyramid known to have Pyramid Texts inscribed inside
When: 6th Dynasty

 

Pyramid of Pharaoh Khendjer

What: A Funerary Complex for the Pharaoh including a Mortuary Temple, 2 enclosure Walls, a second smaller Pyramid and a Chapel

When: 13th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Pepi I

What: A Funerary Complex for the Pharaoh which included a Valley Temple, Causeway, Mortuary Temple, Pyramid Town and a further 10 minor Pyramids
When: 6th Dynasty
Architect: Inenek-Inti

Serapeum

What: The burial place of the Sacred Apis Bulls, the animal form of the God Ptah; appears to have held 25 mummified bulls
When: 18th Dynasty to 30th Dynasty
Who: Earliest found burials appear to be from reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

Dahshur

On the West Bank of the Nile, 40km South of Cairo: The Pyramids built in Dahshur gave the Egyptian Architects the knowledge to move on from building the Step Pyramid to the smooth sided Pyramids at Giza

 

Pyramid of Pharaoh Sneferu

Also Known as: The Bent Pyramid
What: The first attempt to erect a smooth sided pyramid. The bend occurred as the structural weight was miscalculated versus the sandy footing the pyramid was placed on. Pharaoh then constructed a second Pyramid, now known as the Red Pyramid, and the mistakes were corrected
When: 4th Dynasty

Second Pyramid of Pharaoh Sneferu

Also Known as: The Red Pyramid
What: Pharaoh achieved his smooth sided pyramid. It is known as the Red Pyramid due to the red hue of the Limestone used in its construction
When: 4th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Senusret III

What: The Pyramid outstripped the others at Dahshur in terms of its size, although it is thought to have been a Cenotaph rather than Pharaoh’s actual Tomb. It did have its own Complex, including a Southern Temple, Mortuary Temple and 7 Pyramids for Pharaoh’s wives
When: 12th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Amenemhat II

Also Known as: The White Pyramid
What:
 A badly constructed Pyramid as it had sand on the outside and limestone internally and the sand eroded very quickly leaving the Limestone exposed. The Limestone was then pilfered for other monuments
When: 12th Dynasty

Pyramid of Pharaoh Amenemhat III

Also Known as: The Black Pyramid
What: Remains of the Pyramid as the Architects and Builders did not learn lessons from the nearby Bent Pyramid and used an unstable base on a low-lying part of the Necropolis (only 10m above sea level) which allowed ground water to penetrate through the numerous corridors and chambers which Pharaoh introduced to beneath the Pyramid. This led to substantial structural damage with cracks appearing in corridors and chambers

The Remaining Tombs & Cemeteries

The whole Dahshur Area is littered with remaining Royal Tombs and Cemeteries. Mostly, these were for Royal Women and contained an extremely sizable amount of high end and worked Jewellery.

Abusir

 What: “The House of Osiris”. Home to 14 Pyramids: unfortunately, these were made with lesser stone than those of their neighbours and so most have not survived. Although cemeteries and tombs have remained surprisingly intact with many parts of the Mortuary Temples and Sun Temples still remaining

Where: North of Saqqara but South of Giza and almost opposite Memphis. As with nearly all Burial Sites, it is located on the Western side of the River Nile

When: The 5th Dynasty but continued on until the 26th and 27th Dynasties | Who: Mainly the Royalty of the 5th Dynasty but also for Nobility, Priests and Officials

Why: Thought to have been used after the Necropoli at Giza and Saqqara were “full”

The First Solar Temple
Pharaoh Userkaf built the first Monument here: his Solar Temple at the beginning of the 5th Dynasty which he founded

 

The Remaining Pyramids on site
Pyramid of Pharaoh Sahure, 2nd Pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty
Type: Step Pyramid | Known for: its very beautiful carved Reliefs

 

Pyramid of Pharaoh Neferirkare, 3rd Pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty
Type: Converted from a Step Pyramid to a True Pyramid | Notes: 2nd & Tallest Pyramid Built
Death: Pharaoh died unexpectedly early when his Pyramid had reached a height of over 72m, though today only 50m remains

 

Pyramid of Pharaoh Nyuserre
Type: Step Pyramid | Remains: the most intact Pyramid that remains today

 

Pyramid of Pharaoh Neferefre
Type: Step Pyramid | Remains: it was never completed

 

The Last Solar Temple 
This is thought to have been erected by Pharaoh Menkauhor due to documentation, but this has yet to be found. He was the 7th Ruler of the 5th Dynasty

 

Smaller Pyramids and Mastabas

  • Pyramid of Queen Khentkaus II, wife of Pharaoh Neferirkare; who was also the mother of Pharaoh Neferefre and Pharaoh Nyuserre
  • Pyramid known as Lepsius 24: appears to have been a Queen’s Pyramid and is home to the name reliefs of Vizier Ptahshepses
  • Pyramid known as Lepsius 25: thought to have been a Queen’s Pyramid
  • Mastaba of Vizier Ptahshepses, Vizier to Pharaoh Nyuserre
  • Mastaba of Prince Nakhtkare, son of either Pharaoh Raneferef or Pharaoh Nyuserre

Temple of Pharaoh Ramses II
A 32m long by 52m wide and was home to a large Court with their storage rooms for offerings. At its rear was a staircase that led to the Inner Sanctum which hosted 3 chambers dedicated to God Ra, God Amun and Goddess Nekhbet. The whole Temple was surrounded by blue painted Mudbrick Walls. This was uncovered by Egyptologists in 2017.

Unfinished Pyramid
Pyramid of Shepseskare, 4th or 5th Pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty. He may have only ruled for a matter of months which would explain why his Pyramid was unfinished

Other Tombs

Abusir South: a cemetery of Ranking Officials from the Old Kingdom

  • 3rd Dynasty Tomb of Ity
  • 3rd Dynasty Tomb of Priest Hetepi
  • 4th Dynasty Tomb of Architect & Priest Kaaper
  • 5th Dynasty Tomb of Priest Rahotep
  • 5th Dynasty Tomb of Priest Fetekti
  • 6th Dynasty Tomb of Vizier Qar and his sons
  • Rock Cut Tomb of Charioteer Nakhtmin

Abusir West: Another Necropolis for Memphite Nobility, Priests and High Officials

Saite-Persian Cemetery: atop a small hill which is directly south of the Pyramid for Pharaoh Neferefre

  • 26th and 27th Dynasty Tomb of High Official Udjahorresnet
  • 26th Dynasty Tomb of Priest and Administrator of Palaces Iufaa
  • 26th Dynasty Tomb of Official Menekhibneko
  • 26th Dynasty Tomb of Official Padihor
  • Tomb R3

But

Abusir held one more revelation, the largest group of Old Kingdom that has been found in Egypt to date.  It is known collectively as the Abusir Papyri. One of the Administrative Temple Papyri records the Abusir Funerary Cult of Pharaoh Neferirkare.

Giza

Perhaps the most iconic monuments of Ancient Egypt. Found at the edges of the Western Desert in the city of Giza which abuts Capital City, Cairo. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World. The Giza Complex does not only include the 3 main Pyramids and their associated Mortuary Complexes, but also Nobles’ Tombs, Shafts, several cemeteries and a workers’ village

Giza Plateau

How does this huge Necropolis all fit together? For more information, click on the Photograph

The Great Sphinx

The enigmatic figure which lies in the sand, click the photo for more information

The Dream

To understand how the Great Sphinx influenced the line of Royal Pharaohs, click on the picture

The Great Pyramid : Khufu's Horizon

For more information on the Mortuary Complex of Pharaoh Khufu, click on the image above

Khafre’s Mortuary Complex : “Great is Khafre”

Click on the Picture for further details above Pharaoh Khafre’s Necropolis

The Smallest of the 3 Pyramids at Giza, “Menkaure is Divine”

Click on the Photograph to access the Mortuary Complex for Pharaoh Menkaure, Giza Necropolis

4th Pyramid Complex of Giza

Queen Khentkaus I; she built the last Royal Monument built at the Giza Necropolis. Daughter of Pharaoh Menkaure; a high-born Princess; Queen to Pharaoh Shepseskaf and mother to Pharaoh Sahure; potentially Pharaoh as a Regent. Click on the Image for further information 

Pyramid Stones

All of the Monuments on the Giza Necropolis were built primarily of locally quarried Limestone with other types of stone added to them from around the country. To find out what they were, click on the Photograph above

Pyramid Architects

The role of Lead Architect was usually reserved for the Pharaoh’s Vizier. To learn more, click on the Photograph above.

Pyramids Workers

Who were they?
DNA from their burials have confirmed that they were Egyptians

Why did they build the Pyramid?
Although it seems to be a touch cynical, on the surface a large part of the reasoning was National Pride

To learn more, click on the Photograph above

Solar Boats

Solar Boats are believed to have had 2 uses: a Funerary Barge to carry Pharaoh after death to their Mortuary Complex; and for Pharaoh’s use in the Afterlife as a Ceremonial Boat

Click on the Picture for further details above Pharaoh Khafre’s Necropolis

Cemeteries of the Nobles

Click on the Photograph for further details.

The Giza Necropolis is not only the burial location for the Royals, but also for Nobles, Courtiers, Officials and the Workers who built the Pyramid Complexes; some in Tombs and some in Cemeteries. Many of these subsidiary tombs may not have any occupant left but they are covered with stunning Reliefs which give Egyptologists a thorough pictograph of clothing, occupations, work, food and an overview of general life.

The Worker’s City

 

Egyptologists have discovered the remains of this “Worker’s Village” settlement approx. 400m South of the Sphinx. It dates to the mid 4th Dynasty which would mean that it was constructed after the completion of Pharaoh Khufu’s Mortuary Complex.

What was there? What did they eat? How was it Administered? Was Royalty there? What if they died there?

To find out more, click here.