Necropolis of Saqqara
The Saqqara necropolis is the most extensive collection of ancient Egyptian tombs. The site was used as a necropolis during the First Dynasty.
It will continue to be used as such throughout the ancient empire, with periods of abandonment before being updated again during the New Empire.
It is a unique archaeological site, full of royal and non-royal tombs, with the burial of Zoser, the first pharaoh of the Third Dynasty, unquestionably at its center.
Where is the Saqqara Site located?
Saqqara is located about 30km south of the modern city of Cairo; today, this place is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the region.
There are funerary structures from a period that extends from 3000 BC to 950 AD. Highlights include the funerary complex of Djoser, king of the 3rd Egyptian dynasty, with his well-known stepped (or stepped) pyramid.
Where was the necropolis of ancient Egypt located?
The necropolis of Saqqara, like most necropolises in ancient Egypt, is a historic Egyptian site located on the west bank of the Nile.
This is an intriguing state of affairs because it reveals a facet of ancient Egypt’s spirituality. The inhabitants believed that their soul, the famous “Kâ,” was part of a larger whole,
that it developed in all things and returned in the form of a great river from where it was. He drew the newcomers’ Kâ.
Everything alive forms a cycle in this vision, and the mind is constantly renewed, passing from a hidden face to a luminous face.
This cycle was represented by the Sun’s race, which began every morning in the East and ended every evening in the West.
As a result, the East is portrayed as the kingdom of the living, while the West is portrayed as the kingdom of the dead. The Nile, the natural border, marked this division.
Saqqara is approximately 15 kilometres south of the Giza necropolis, directly opposite Memphis. It is bounded to the south by the Dahshur necropolis and to the north by the Abousir necropolis.
Saqqara’s tombs are arranged in this manner.
The layout of the tombs in the Saqqara necropolis is relatively simple in detail. The necropolis is approximately 8 kilometres long and has a more developed central section than the rest of the area. Saqqara is near the Abousir necropolis to the north, and Giza is to the south. Dahshur is located in the south.
Large groups of archaic tombs dating back to the 1st Dynasty (in the east) and 3rd Dynasty (in the north) can be found (in the west). The temple of Isis is also located there.
A long alleyway bordered by the Sphinx separates these ancient tombs from the much more advanced burial complexes of the 5th Dynasty to the south of these tombs.
The Menkaouré complex, the Sekmenket complex, the Userkaf complex, and, of course, the first pyramid ever built by man, that of Zoser, are all located on the south side of this road.
It should be noted that this pyramid dates from the third dynasty, making it the first in this area. During the 5th dynasty,
this central area was also used to house the tombs of many high dignitaries, and there were high-quality mastabas.
A bit further south is the New Kingdom necropolis, built centuries later. General Horemheb was buried here during the 18th dynasty.
The Serapeum was constructed as a temple dedicated to the Apis of the God-Bulls. Saqqara advanced again during the nineteenth dynasty, gaining new buildings before being abandoned.
Saqqara will continue to be used during the 30th Dynasty, i.e. towards the end of the New Kingdom, during the reign of the Ptolemies.
What Does the name Saqqara mean?
The burial complex is named in honour of the god Sokar, the patron saint of the kingdom of the dead.
The Most famous pyramid in Saqqara and the necropolis of Saqqara Saqqara pyramid
The Pyramid of Saqqara
also called the Step Pyramid or the Pyramid of Djoser, relative to King Djoser, one of the pharaohs of the Third Dynasty that ruled Egypt.
Even though access to the pyramid’s interior has been prohibited for safety reasons, the pyramid is still a great site to behold when viewed from the outside.
The pyramids in this area were frequently built during economic unrest, resulting in their being built using materials of inferior quality that degraded quickly after their first installation.
It is a vast limestone structure built in 2816 BC. Its width is about 110 m, its base is about 130 m long, and its height is about 130 m. It is from about 60 AD and is one of the oldest pyramids in the world.
The pyramid consists of 6 terraces and contains many rooms, corridors, corridors, and doors with inscriptions of Djoser.
Its walls are decorated with blue and green porcelain. There is also a statue of King Djoser sitting on a His throne; in addition to that,
the pyramid contains two terraces in which the two daughters of King Djoser were buried.
In addition to the magnificent pyramid of Djoser, which was just described, there are ten pyramids in varying phases of restoration. Some are even open to the general public.
The Tomb of Ti
The Tomb of Ti is located in the northern region of Saqqara, and it is a tomb built by Kan Ti, a supervisor of the pyramids in the era of the last king of the Fifth Egyptian Dynasty
in the 24th century BC. He built it to be buried in it with his wife Neferhotep, who is one of the most famous Archaeological sites in the region,
and it consists of an upper section in which there is a small hall containing two columns inscribed with a picture of Ti, and its walls have inscriptions and writings depicting funeral and agricultural scenes,
and the daily life of the population, and there is a spacious courtyard consisting of 12 columns, and it was found The coffin of Ti is empty in the burial place,
and there is a copy of the statue of Ti in the cemetery, as the original copy of the figure is in the Egyptian Museum.
The Pyramid of Unas is small in the Saqqara pyramids on the southern side. It is a tomb that was built in which King Unas and his family, the fifth Pharaonic dynasty,
were buried in it and in the burial room, in which the remains of a mummy were found unknown to whom it belonged, as It contains a masta dedicated to the burial of the king’s wives.
Some hieroglyphic inscriptions were found on the burial chamber’s walls, as this language is one of the oldest Semitic languages in the world.
The Serapeum or Apis Tomp
The Serapeum, as we have said, was the first element of the area to be brought to light, it represents another unmissable point of attraction in Saqqara.
It was the underground burial chamber dedicated to the Apis bull. Raised and venerated in the Temple of Ptah in Memphis during their lifetime,
sacred bulls were mummified after death and taken to the Serapeum to be buried in stone sarcophagi. This practice lasted for over 1,300 years, until 30 BC.
Userkaf’s Pyramid is located in the central section of the Saqqara Necropolis, near the Zoser Complex. Dating back to the Fifth Dynasty, it belongs to King Userkaf.
Due to the extensive damage the pyramid took, it looks intact. Its original height measures about 44.5 m. Its design and complexity do not differ from the previous pyramids,
except that the Mortuary Temple is built to the south. A huge pink granite head for King Userkaf was found inside this temple, now on display in the Cairo Museum.
The Sekhemkhet pyramid is located in the section of the Unas pyramid in the Saqqara necropolis. Although unfinished, the Sekhemkhet Complex is similar to King Djoser’s in most parts and plans.
Many vessels were discovered within the underground corridors and galleries, some of which bear the name of King Sekhemkhet.
In addition, a wooden box was discovered containing a collection of gold jewellery, a series of Demotic papyri, and some monuments and burials from the end of Egyptian time and the Ptolemaic period.
Inside the burial chamber was found an alabaster sarcophagus that was securely sealed. Opening the sarcophagus, the archaeologists realized it was empty and there is no evidence that it was used for burial.
Museum of Imhotep
The museum was named after the pyramid’s architect, Djoser, a priest. It was Imhotep that the creators of the film “The Mummy” made the film’s hero. The priest was highly respected by his contemporaries,
and after his death, they began to consider him a deity.
The museum’s collection consists of statues, tiles, small figurines, and household items. All were found at Saqqara. One of the expositions is dedicated to the archaeologist J.-F. Lauer devoted 75 years of his life to Saqqara.
The Egyptologist died in Paris at the age of 99.
The Ancient Cemetery of Memphis
The ancient cemetery of Memphis, the resting place of dozens of pharaohs and their families, administrators, generals and sacred animals,
covers an area of 7 kilometres in the western desert above the cultivated area of the Nile valley. The name probably derives from Sokar, the god of death.
The pharaohs of the Old Kingdom were buried inside the 11 significant pyramids, while their subjects were in hundreds of smaller tombs.
Most of the area, except the step pyramid, was buried in sand from Roman times, when it fell into disuse, until the mid-nineteenth century when Egyptologist Auguste Mariette discovered the Serapeum.
In 1979 it was inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list.
The history of Saqqara
The history of Saqqara is inextricably linked with the history of Memphis. During the city’s heyday, rulers were buried here, and no expense was spared to equip their tombs.
Later it became a burial place for noble citizens and sacred animals. When Memphis was forgotten, Saqqara was also forgotten.
The most ancient burials belong to the period of the first dynasty, the fourth millennium BC. All of them were looted. Archaeologists found only shards from dishes and the remains of gilding in the tombs.
These tombs are called mastabas. They have a rectangular shape, built of raw brick. In the centre of the mastaba is a tomb, around several small rooms for storing posthumous gifts
and things that will be useful in the afterlife. Near some tombs, more modest burials were found with the bodies of people who did not die by their death.
Presumably, these are the pharaoh’s servants, who were buried along with the owner. This was not found in the burials of later periods.
Underground burial chambers remained from the graves of the second dynasty rulers. The names of the buried pharaohs were established from the inscriptions on the cement seals.
There were no mummies in the tombs; robbers most likely destroyed them.
The pyramid of Djoser belongs to the period of the third dynasty. This is one of the main attractions of Saqqara. The peculiarity of this building is the stone masonry.
This is believed to be the first building in Egypt made of stone. The name of the architect is known Imhotep.
The tomb of Djoser differs from the later pyramids in its form. It is stepped. She is considered the “mother” of all the pyramids of Egypt. The tomb of the pharaoh was arranged under the pyramid.
The passage was a tunnel almost 30 meters deep. The tomb was finished with granite. There was a hole in the ceiling through which the ruler’s mummy was brought in.
The Saqqara plateau has been explored numerous times, including after Napoleon’s expedition. Saqqara was not studied when Napoleon Bonaparte landed in Alexandria in 1798, and it remains a vague area from which we hardly notice Zoser’s step pyramid emerging from the rubble.
General Enrico Menu von Minutoli (1772-1846), head of the scientific mission sent to Egypt by the Prussian government in 1818, was responsible for the first exploration of Zoser’s pyramid. He collaborated with the Italian Egyptologist Girolamo Segato (1792-1836).
Colonel Richard W. Howard-Vyse (1784-1853) removed the debris affecting the site twenty years later, in 1836. With these annexes, John Shae Perring created the first precise plan for the monument.
Karl Richard Lepsius (1810-1884) led a new Prussian mission there in 1842.
The main task he had to complete was a massive inventory of ancient Egyptian monuments. Of course, the remains of Zoser were included in this work.
But the Frenchman Auguste Edouard Mariette was the first to understand the site of Saqqara as a whole (1821-1881). He devoted his entire career to it, and his efforts were rewarded with the discovery of the Serapeum on November 12, 1851.
Today, the site of Saqqara is under ongoing excavation, and new tombs are frequently discovered there, adding to the great book of Egyptian knowledge.
The necropolis of Saqqara, explored for 150 years, resulted in the discovery of many tombs and pyramids, most of which date back to the ancient empire.
The remains of these tombs allow us to understand how the inhabitants of the time lived, thanks to high-quality representations or objects that were meticulously analysed.
includes a funerary site that houses a large number of tombs and mastabas, in which the step pyramid of Djoser stands out as the oldest of those found so far. This was built by Imohtep in 2770 BC, an architect deified by the Greeks as Aesculapius, who had the idea of superimposing several mastabas, giving the work its characteristic shape. In addition to this, a series of accessory pyramids in various states of conservation populate the desert area.
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