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Unas’ Pyramid

Saqqara - The Places

The smallest of the Old Kingdom Pyramids, it retains notoriety due to the Pharaoh inscribing the Pyramid texts on its interior. Erected in the 5th Dynasty for Pharaoh Unas, who was the final Pharaoh of that Dynasty.

The Pyramid was smooth sided and ran in a line from Pharaoh Sekhemkhet’s Pyramid to Pharaoh Menkauhor’s Pyramid. In positioning the Complex here, Unas’ builders had to produce a longer than normal causeway in order to reach the Lake front.

This suggests that the site had specific meaning for Pharaoh in order to proscribe this added endeavour.


Pharaoh’s Pyramid
The core of the Pyramid was a base of 6 Limestone step levels which was dressed in Tura white Limestone.  It reached a height of 43m and had a base of 57.75m. His pyramid was restored in the 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom Period, by High Priest of Memphis, and son of Pharaoh Ramses II, Prince Khaemwaset. He inscribed the commemoration of his works into the Pyramid’s South Side.


To enter the subterranean world of the Pyramid you would need to go to the north side of the Pyramid and then enter a small Offering Chapel where the entrance could be found below the flooring.

The Corridor led sloping downwards for 14m before levelling out into a small hallway that then flattened out for another 14m Corridor leading to Pharaoh’s Ante Chamber which was gated with 3 granite slabs one after the other.

There are two doors leading out of the Ante Chamber, the eastern one was to Pharaoh’s Ka Statue Chamber, and the western one was to his Burial Chamber. Unas’ coffin was made of Greywacke, a type of sandstone, and was located undamaged but without Pharaoh’s full skeleton.

As mentioned earlier, Pharaoh Unas’ burial was unique because he was the first to us the Pyramid Texts inscribed onto some the Burial Chamber’s, Ante Chamber’s and Corridor’s walls.

The other walls kept in tradition with other decoration of the period and were decorated in the guise of Royal Palace Doors. To learn more about the Pyramid Texts and those that followed them click here.


Unas’ Pyramid Texts


Unas used 283 Spells for his Pyramid including specific ones to protect and guard his Mummy and Coffin itself. His idea was readily adopted by later Pharaohs and the engraving of the Spells onto Tomb Walls was continued throughout the 6th Dynasty and into the 7th and 8th Dynasties.


Your son Horus has acted for you

The great ones will shake, having seen the knife in your arm as you emerge from the Duat

Greetings, experienced one!

Geb has created you, the Ennead has given you birth

Horus has become content about his father

Atum has become content about his years

The eastern and western gods have become content about the great thing
that has happened in his embrace—the god’s birth

It is Unas: Unas, see!

It is Unas: Unas, look!

It is Unas: Unas, hear!

It is Unas: Unas, exist!

It is Unas: Unas, raise yourself from your side!

Do my command, you who hate sleep but were made slack

Stand up, you in Nedit

Your good bread has been made in Pe; receive your control of Heliopolis

I am Horus, having been commanded to act for his father, the storm-lord,
the one with spittle in his vicinity, Seth

He will bear you: he is the one who will bear Atum

The Mortuary Complex

Unas’ Perimeter Wall was 86m by 76m in length and was 7m high; enclosing Pharaoh’s Pyramid, Mortuary Temple and Cult Pyramid; as well as Mastabas for his Queens and Tombs for a number of his children.

The Valley Temple

Found in the harbour where a Wadi meets a Lake, the Temple was highly decorated including a portico with 8 Granite palm columns made out of Granite.



Walking to the Mortuary Temple, you would follow the 2.65m wide roofed Causeway, with 4m tall walls either side, from the Harbour and Valley Temple for approx. 750m to the Mortuary Temple. The Interior Walls would have been highly decorated with reliefs which were highlighted by the sun filtrating through slits left in the Causeway’s roof for this very reason.

Unusually the Causeway was built to include 2 turns, whereas most Causeways were relatively straight in construction. Pharaoh Unas’ wooden Boats were buried adjacent to the Causeway in a pit of white Limestone.

Pharaoh Unas’ builders took little to no regard for previous but already robbed burials as Tombs which were in the path of the Causeway were built over. To the North of the Causeway an assemblage of Tombs was located which were mainly related to Unas’ Rule:

  • Vizier Akhethetep
  • Vizier Ihy
  • Vizier Iy–nofert
  • Vizier Ny-ankh-ba
  • Vizier Mehu, Vizier for Pharaoh Pepi I
  • Prince Unas-ankh, son of Unas


Further burials have been discovered in shafts and tombs to the South of the Causeway, including Pharaoh Menkauhor’s Court Singer, Nefer and Ka-hay.

Mortuary Temple


The Doorway to the Mortuary Temple is through a Pink Granite Doorway which appears to have been erected by Pharaoh Unas’ successor, Pharaoh Teti.

This is the only difference between Unas’ layout and that of his predecessor, Pharaoh Djedkare. The Entrance Hall is decorated with images of offerings and this leads into storerooms to the north and south; and then an open columned Courtyard area with 18 Pink Granite Palmed Columns which support the roof.

A Transverse Corridor leads into a Chapel which has niches for 5 Statues. Beyond that is the Offering Hall which is created out of an unusual building material, that leads to the Cult Pyramid.

Cult Pyramid

This Pyramid is thought to have been purely for the Pharaoh’s Ka and would have been used for symbolic and offering purposes. It is thought to have been 11.5m high with a base of 11.5m although it is now barely recognisable. Pharaoh Unas’ Cult looks as though it continued through the First Intermediate Period and on into the Middle Kingdom Period which would have been rare for a long-deceased Pharaoh to continue his notoriety through a shift changed as what occurred in the First Intermediate Period.

Double Mastaba of Queen Khenut and Queen Nebet
This Mastaba provided an extensively decorated Burial Chamber for each Queen with its individual entrance; Queen Nebet had the Eastern Chamber and Queen Khenut had the Western Chamber.

Tombs of Pharaoh Unas’ Children
North of the Double Mastaba, the Tombs for Unas’ son, Prince Unasankh, and Unas’ daughter, Princess Iput, were discovered by Egyptologists.

A further Princess was buried in a tomb to the West of Pharaoh Djoser’s Pyramid Complex.


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