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Userkaf’s Pyramid Complex

Saqqara - The Places

Initially discovered in 1831 but not investigated until 1927 and then fully excavated between 1948 to 1955, this is the Mortuary Complex of Pharaoh Userkaf of the 5th Dynasty, completed in approx. 2490BC.

It is a True sided Pyramid which reached 49m high, with a base of 73.5m and was joined in the Complex by a Mortuary Temple, Offering Chapel and a Cult Pyramid with reciprocal buildings for Pharaoh’s Chief Royal Wife, Queen Neferhetepes.


See Plan on left:

1) Pharaoh’s Pyramid; 2) Offering Chapel; 3) Cult Pyramid; Then, the Mortuary Temple has: 4) A Courtyard; 5) A Chapel; 6) Entrance corridors and 7) A Causeway, all surrounded by the Enclosure Wall

  1. Pharaoh’s Pyramid
    Pharaoh chose, probably through necessity with space, ground materials and materials available, to build his Pyramid in the North-Eastern corner of Pharaoh Djoser’s Step Pyramid Complex. This Pyramid does not have above ground chambers but does have subterranean ones; one of which includes funerary equipment which is unique in its construction and location for all 5th and 6th Dynasty Pyramids. From there, and following the Corridor along, there is the Pharaoh’s Ante Chamber which leads to his Burial Chamber. On investigation, it was found that the Pharaoh was laid to rest in a Black Basalt Sarcophagus.

The Pyramid was restored by Prince Khaemwaset, son of Pharaoh Ramses II as is evidenced by the inscriptions found on stone cladding at the Pyramid site.

  1. Offering Chapel
    This joins Pharaoh’s Pyramid on its eastern side, and it had a central chamber which was supported by 2 pillars with a false door. Its Floor was made of Black Basalt with its Walls being Tura Limestone and Granite. The decoration was Offering Scenes.


Userkaf’s Mortuary Temple has its own Hypostyle Hall with 4 pairs of Red Granite pillars which leads to an Inner Sanctum holding 5 Statue Niche’s which is where the Pharaoh’s Ka is represented in his Ka Statue. Its use is vast as it remains the core of the Pharaoh’s Cult Centre and is used for the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony. Regrettably, all that remains is the paving and large granite blocks around the outside door.

Queen Neferhetepes Pyramid Complex had a now ruined Pyramid which was nearly 17m high with a base of 26m. Later dynasties have used the Pyramid as their own Stone Quarry, exposing the internal Chambers but Egyptologists can confirm that the plan for the Pyramid followed that of her husbands, Pharaoh Userkaf.

Her Mortuary Temple had its own open Colonnade, Sacrificial Chapel for the preparation of Offerings, 3 Niches for Statues and Chambers for magazines. Inside its halls were images of animal processions and offering carriers which all moved together to the Shrine of Queen Neferhetepes.


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