Select Page

Pepi I’s Complex

Saqqara - The Places

Pyramid Complex of Pharaoh Pepi I

and the other Nine Pyramid Complexes

A Funerary Complex for the Pharaoh of which the construction was overseen as Architect by his wife and Queen, Inenek-Inti, who also served as Pharaoh Pepi I’s Vizier. It included a Valley Temple, Causeway, Mortuary Temple, Pyramid Town and a further 10 minor Pyramidal complexes; including the Complex for Queen Inenek-Inti. Built in the 6th Dynasty, the Complex was a copy of Pharaoh Djedkare’s Complex also at Saqqara. The Pyramid itself was a True Pyramid in its shape, it was 52.5m high and a base of 78.75m. Pharaoh Pepi I’s Mortuary Complex was known as “Men-nefer-Pepi” which was the taken name of the Capital City, “Men-nefer” or Memphis. For more information click here.

Pharaoh’s Mortuary Complex
As with all Complexes of this period, Pharaoh Pepi I’s Complex included a Valley Temple which adjoined to the Pyramid Town and Causeway. At the time of publication, these have yet to be excavated in full. The other parts of the Complex which have been excavated are: his Mortuary Temple, his Cult Pyramid and his Burial place in the Main Pyramid.

The Cult Pyramid
Built in essence to keep Pharaoh’s name, Ka and the offerings to him and his supporting Deities alive after he has passed on to the Afterlife.

Pharaoh’s Main Pyramid
First inspected in the 1830s, it was later excavated in earnest in 1880. It was the first Pyramid located which included the Pyramid Texts on its Burial Chamber Walls. Not to be confused with Pharaoh Unas Pyramid which contained the earliest occasion of when the Pyramid texts were included inside the Burial Chamber.

Exterior: Pharaoh constructed his Pyramid with 6 interior steps of limestone which was then wrapped in finer White Limestone which again was robbed away. The part that the Robbers played left Archaeologists with a unique discovery. Many of the internal Limestone blocks had been inscribed with the names of people who were closely involved with the construction of the Pyramid. Without the Robbers removing the exterior Blocks, these inscriptions and names may never have come to light.

This is how we know that Queen Inenek-Inti served as Chief Overseer and Architect for the complex. We also know that “Teti-ankh” who is believed to have potentially been “Prince Teti-ankh” a son of the Pharaoh was also heavily involved in the build of the Enclosure Wall and working on the measurements for the layout.

The 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 Stone.  The Pyramid now stands at only 12m high with a mound like appearance.

Interior: The Subterranean Chambers were fully excavated in 1966. They lead in from the outside via the North Chapel of the Complex. The Corridor descends until it reaches a small hall and then flattens out. Halfway along the Corridor you reach the first security feature; a barrier of 3 pink Granite Stone Gates which is repeated a further 3 times. At the end of the Corridor is the Antechamber which hosts the 3 recesses as in all other Saqqara Pyramids of the time. Off this Chamber were the storage room and the Burial Chamber to the West.

The Burial Chamber has a ceiling painted black and highlighted with white stars and a Sarcophagus which would have presumably hosted Pharaoh. Presumably? It appears that the Sarcophagus found within was a substitute, indicating that perhaps the first was damaged when being brought to the Pyramid or contained flaws that led to a different one being used. Egyptologists located the remains of Pharaoh’s Canopic Jars, a Wooden Sycamore Sandal, pleated Linen and a small Knife made from Flint. But that main draw are the Walls. 

Pepi’s Pyramid Texts
Found in the Burial Chamber, Corridor and Ante Chamber in green painted Hieroglyphs. There are 2,263 lines of Texts which are divided into three sections: 1.) Protection for Pharaoh in his Burial Chamber; 2.) Pharaoh’s Ascent to the Sky; 3.) Curse against the Guardian of the Door. For more information of the Pyramid texts, click here

Pharaoh’s Mortuary Temple

The Causeway would have led into the Entrance Hall (1) with Storerooms either side (2); on into a larger Courtyard (3) which would have been graced with columns (4) before meeting with the Transverse Hallway (5). The Inner Sanctum or Chapel contained 5 Niches for the Ka Statue of Pharaoh and other supporting Deities (6). The other rooms would have been used for offerings, storage and anti-chambers which would have assisted the Priests with carrying out Pharaoh’s daily and significant cult rituals (7-10). The Cult pyramid would not have received any burial but rather been the nightly home location for Pharaoh’s Ka (11). Lastly the Temple had its own Courtyards (12a and b).

Regrettably, the Temple was damaged in antiquity by thieves who robbed away many of the Stone for their own use in Lime production. Archaeologists know this as they have located the lime furnace that the robbers used within the Temple grounds.

Pyramid of Queen Ankhesenpepi II
Queen Ankhesenpepi II was granted with the Largest Pyramid after Pharaoh Pepi I’s with a base of 31.4m. Her Mortuary Temple explains the Pepi Family Tree. One of the decorative blocks in the Temple shows 3 Cartouches: Pharaoh Pepi I, her husband; her nephew Pharaoh Mererenre I, who she married after Pharaoh Pepi I’s death; and her son with Pharaoh Mererenre I, namely Pharaoh Pepi II.

The Mortuary Temple contained 21 storerooms and a large Courtyard with 2 doors which contained the Inner Sanctum, with the south-western door leading to the northern side of the Pyramid and the entrance to the Pyramid. The Substructure of the Pyramid contained Pyramid Texts added to its Walls. It had a large Burial Chamber which measured 7.34m by 3.15m and a fully sized Sarcophagus constructed out of Basalt and topped with the Queen’s full royal titles. The remaining parts of her Mummy reveal that she was an older lady who suffered from osteoarthritis.

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint pain, stiffness and problems moving a specific or multiple joint. The severity can vary greatly and between different affected joints. Almost any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the condition most often causes problems in the knees, hips and the hands.


Queen Inenek-Inti
As one of Pharaoh Pepi I’s senior Queens and the Architect for the Complex, Queen Inenek-Inti has a good-sized Complex of her own. Complete with her Pyramid, Perimeter Wall, Mortuary Temple and Cult Pyramid. The Perimeter Wall was 1.5m thick.

The Main Pyramid is one fourteenth the size of Pharaoh Pepi I’s, with a height of 21m and a base of 21m and is entered via a Chapel Entrance on its north side. The Corridor descends to a main Corridor which has a guard in the form of a Granite Stone before reaching the Burial Chamber itself with its Greywacke Sarcophagus.

Her Mortuary Temple is entered through 2 Granite Pillars with a further 2 grey Limestone Obelisks which are engraved with her name and titles. Internally it has a Hall with a pillared Courtyard to its North East. An Offering Hall, the usual Storage rooms for Offerings and the Inner Sanctum which contained the 3 Statue Niche’s was present.

The Cult Pyramid had a base of 6m and was located in the South-East corner of her Complex.


Queen Nebuunet
Another senior Queen of Pharaoh Pepi I who was honoured with her own Pyramid and Mortuary Temple. Regrettably the Temple is in ruins.

Her Pyramid was built out of Limestone, had a height of 21m and a base of near 21m; as with Queen Inenek-Inti’s Pyramid, the entrance is from the Chapel set in the North side and goes straight into a descending corridor with one Granite guard stone. The only difference from Queen Inenek-Inti’s Pyramid was that her Sarcophagus was constructed in Pink Granite.

Queen Mehaa and Prince Hornetjerikhet
A wife and son of Pharaoh Pepi I. Whilst Queen Mehaa was buried in a Pyramid, her son Prince Hornetjerikhet was buried in a Tomb right before the Pyramid of his mother.

Relief of
Queen Ankhesenpepi III

Queen Meritites IV
A Queen either for Pharaoh Pepi I or Pharaoh Pepi II. Her Pyramid has a base of 21m, and its subterranean interior is designed with the Queen’s Titles up the Chamber Walls. Pyramid Texts appeared on a Box or Canopic Chest which was in the Burial Chamber but was found in tiny fragments.


Queen Behenu
A Queen either for Pharaoh Pepi I or Pharaoh Pepi II, her Burial Complex was confirmed by remnants of her name and titles in her Mortuary Temple but are thought to have originated within her Pyramid. Her Pyramid has a base of just over 26m and is the second largest Pyramid in Pharaoh Pepi I’s Mortuary Complex after Queen Ankhesenpepi II’s.

Her Burial Chamber is painted to represent a Royal Palace with text above the decoration; it is coloured with black, red and green.

Her Mortuary area contains her own Cult Pyramid which has a base of 5.5m which is surrounded by its own Courtyard. The Mortuary Temple itself has the standardised layout of the entrance way connecting to a Courtyard with storage rooms off this main area. This lead, via a corridor, to the Inner Sanctum with the Statue Chapel and the Offering Hall.


Queen Ankhesenpepi III
A wife of Pharaoh Pepi II, she was the daughter of Pharaoh Merenre Nemtyemsaf I. Queen Ankhesenpepi III’s Mortuary Temple is located by the east side of her main Pyramid, which is entered by a door flanked by 2 Obelisks and due to available floor space is kept to 2 rooms only before entering the Offering Hall. There is room for a small courtyard which holds the Queen’s Cult Pyramid.

The pyramid has a base length of 15.7m but its Burial Chamber is very badly impaired with a roughly cut Granite Lid hosting the Queen’s Cartouche and Royal Titles being placed on her single pieced Sandstone Sarcophagus.

One of Queen Ankhesenpepi III’s Cult Priestesses, named Ankhnes, who worshiped Goddess Hathor, after the Queen’s demise, is buried with some wooden artefacts in a Chamber within her Queen’s Funerary Complex.

The Western Pyramid
The Pyramid of the Eldest Daughter of the Pharaoh, regrettably we do not know which Pharaoh, so we do not know the name of this Daughter. The Burial Chamber also does not contain her name and only the partial Cartouche of Pharaoh Pepi I can be located in the Mortuary Temple which was small by comparison. The Burial Chamber did contain Clay Vessels, Fish-hooks, Ostrich Feathers and Wooden Weights. Her Pyramid’s base size was 20m which indicates that originally the monument would have stood much taller than the 3ms it remains at today.

The Out of Place Pyramid

An 11th Dynasty Pyramid, discovered in 2004, belongs to an un-royal individual called Reherichefnakht. To date, it is the oldest known Pyramid built for a person who was not of the Royal Family. But this is not his only, “claim to fame”! His Pyramid contains the first example of any burial area that contains both the earlier Pyramid Texts and the later Coffin Texts. For more information on these mysterious Spells, click here. This is being treated as the Burial that connects the Old Kingdom Period and the Middle Kingdom Period, highlighting the shift between the changing burial practises and belief systems.

 The Pyramid was the only building found for the Burial. It itself has a Base of 13.1m and was erected from purloined Limestone Blocks and contains the Cartouches of previous Royal Names from Offering Tables, Lintels, Door Stops and Stelae. The Burial Chamber itself was Royally Decorated: it contained Pyramid Texts Numbers 214 to 217 and Coffin Text Number 335.


Enjoying this Website? Please spread the word :)