The stepped Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara
|Location||Giza Governorate, Egypt|
|Periods||Early Dynastic Period to Middle Ages|
|Part of||"Pyramid fields from Giza to Dahshur" part of Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur|
|Criteria||Cultural: (i), (iii), (vi)|
|Inscription||1979 (3rd Session)|
|Area||16,203.36 ha (62.5615 sq mi)|
Saqqara (Arabic : سقارة, Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [sɑʔˈʔɑːɾɑ] ), also spelled Sakkara or Saccara in English // , is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world-famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas (Arabic word meaning 'bench'). Located some 30 km (19 mi) south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 km (4.35 by 0.93 mi).
At Saqqara, the oldest complete stone building complex known in history was built; Djoser's step pyramid, built during the Third Dynasty. Another 16 Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara, which are now in various states of preservation or dilapidation. High officials added private funeral monuments to this necropolis during the entire pharaonic period. It remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3,000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times.
North of the area known as Saqqara lies Abusir, and south lies Dahshur. The area running from Giza to Dahshur has been used as a necropolis by the inhabitants of Memphis at different times, and it was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.Some scholars believe that the name Saqqara is not derived from the ancient Egyptian funerary deity, Sokar, but supposedly, from a local Berber Tribe called Beni Saqqar.
The earliest burials of nobles can be traced back to the First Dynasty, at the northern side of the Saqqara plateau. During this time, the royal burial ground was at Abydos. The first royal burials at Saqqara, comprising underground galleries, date to the Second Dynasty. The last Second Dynasty king, Khasekhemwy, was buried in his tomb at Abydos, but also built a funerary monument at Saqqara consisting of a large rectangular enclosure, known as Gisr el-Mudir. It probably inspired the monumental enclosure wall around the Step Pyramid complex. Djoser's funerary complex, built by the royal architect Imhotep, further comprises a large number of dummy buildings and a secondary mastaba (the so-called 'Southern Tomb'). French architect and Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer spent the greater part of his life excavating and restoring Djoser's funerary complex.
Nearly all Fourth Dynasty kings chose a different location for their pyramids. During the second half of the Old Kingdom, under the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties, Saqqara was again the royal burial ground. The Fifth and Sixth Dynasty pyramids are not built wholly of massive stone blocks, but instead with a core consisting of rubble. Consequently, they are less well preserved than the world-famous pyramids built by the Fourth Dynasty kings at Giza. Unas, the last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, was the first king to adorn the chambers in his pyramid with Pyramid Texts. During the Old Kingdom, it was customary for courtiers to be buried in mastaba tombs close to the pyramid of their king. Thus, clusters of private tombs were formed in Saqqara around the pyramid complexes of Unas and Teti.
From the Middle Kingdom onward, Memphis was no longer the capital of the country, and kings built their funerary complexes elsewhere. Few private monuments from this period have been found at Saqqara.
During the New Kingdom Memphis was an important administrative and military centre, being the capital after the Amaran Period. From the Eighteenth Dynasty onward many high officials built tombs at Saqqara. While still a general, Horemheb built a large tomb here, although he later was buried as pharaoh in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. Other important tombs belong to the vizier Aperel, the vizier Neferrenpet, the artist Thutmose, and the wet-nurse of Tutankhamun, Maia.
Many monuments from earlier periods were still standing, but dilapidated by this period. Prince Khaemweset, son of Pharaoh Ramesses II, made repairs to buildings at Saqqara. Among other things, he restored the Pyramid of Unas and added an inscription to its south face to commemorate the restoration. He enlarged the Serapeum, the burial site of the mummified Apis bulls, and was later buried in the catacombs. The Serapeum, containing one undisturbed interment of an Apis bull and the tomb of Khaemweset, were rediscovered by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette in 1851.
During the periods after the New Kingdom, when several cities in the Delta served as capital of Egypt, Saqqara remained in use as a burial ground for nobles. Moreover, the area became an important destination for pilgrims to a number of cult centres. Activities sprang up around the Serapeum, and extensive underground galleries were cut into the rock as burial sites for large numbers of mummified ibises, baboons, cats, dogs, and falcons.
Saqqara and the surrounding areas of Abusir and Dahshur suffered damage by looters during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Store rooms were broken into, but the monuments were mostly unharmed.
During routine excavations in 2011 at the dog catacomb in Saqqara necropolis, an excavation team led by Salima Ikram, and an international team of researchers led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University, uncovered almost eight million animal mummies at the burial site. It is thought that the mummified animals, mostly dogs, were intended to pass on the prayers of their owners to their deities.
In July 2018, researchers discovered an extremely rare gilded burial mask. The last time a similar mask was found, was in 1939.In November, 2018, seven ancient Egyptian tombs were located at the ancient necropolis of Saqqara by an Egyptian archaeological mission, with a collection of scarab and cat mummies, dating back to the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties. According to the former minister Khaled el-Enany, three of the tombs were used for cats some dating back more than 6,000 years, while one of four other sarcophagi revealed at the site was unsealed. Within the remains of cat mummies were unearthed gilded and 100 wooden statues of cats and one in bronze dedicated to the cat goddess named Bastet. In addition, funerary items dating back to the 12th Dynasty were found besides the skeletal remains of cats.
In mid-December 2018 the Egyptian government announced the discovery at Saqqara of a previously unknown 4,400-year-old tomb, containing paintings and more than fifty sculptures. It belongs to Wahtye, a high-ranking priest who served under King Neferirkare Kakai during the Fifth Dynasty.The tomb also contains five shafts that may lead to a sarcophagus below.
On April 13, 2019, an expedition led by Department Member of Czech Institute of Egyptology Mohamed Megahed discovered a 4,000-year-old tomb near Egypt's Saqqara Necropolis. Archaeologists confirmed that the tomb belonged to an influential person named 'Khuwy' who lived in Egypt during the 5th dynasty.
“The L-shaped Khuwy tomb starts with a small corridor heading downwards into an antechamber and from there a larger chamber with painted reliefs depicting the tomb owner seated at an offerings table” reported the head of the excavation team Mohamed Megahed.
According to CNN, it is surprising that there are some paintings that prevailed its brightness over a long time in the tomb mainly made of white limestone bricks. Another interesting fact is that the tomb had a tunnel entrance generally typical for pyramids.
Archaeologists say that there might be a connection between Khuwy and Pharaoh because the mausoleum was found near the pyramid of Egyptian Pharaoh Djedkare Isesi, who ruled during that time.
In June 2019, several hundred cache of mummies dating 2,000 years back were found by a team of Polish archaeologists led by Dr. Kamil Kuraszkiewicz. Investigations were carried for almost two decades in the area near Djoser Pyramid, the oldest pyramid in the world. Archaeologists revealed the graves of noblemen from the period of the 6th dynasty, dating to the 24th-21st century BC and 500 graves of indigent people dating approximately to the 6th century BC - 1st century AD. The scientists identified that most of the bodies were poorly preserved and all organic materials, as well as, the wooden caskets decayed.
Most of the mummies we discovered last season were very modest, they were only subjected to basic embalming treatments, wrapped in bandages and placed directly in pits dug in the sand— Dr. Kamil Kuraszkiewicz.
A mastaba or pr-djt is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mud-bricks. These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt's Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. In the Old Kingdom epoch, local kings began to be buried in pyramids instead of in mastabas, although non-royal use of mastabas continued for over a thousand years. Egyptologists call these tombs mastaba, from the Arabic word مصطبة (maṣṭaba) "stone bench".
The Pyramid of Djoser, or Step Pyramid is an archaeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt, northwest of the city of Memphis. The 6-tier, 4-sided structure is the earliest colossal stone building in Egypt. It was built in the 27th century BC during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier, Imhotep. The pyramid is the central feature of a vast mortuary complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration.
Djoser was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty during the Old Kingdom and the founder of this epoch. He is also known by his Hellenized names Tosorthros and Sesorthos. He was the son of king Khasekhemwy and queen Nimaathap, but whether he also was the direct throne successor is still unclear. Most Ramesside Kinglists name a king Nebka before him, but since there are still difficulties in connecting that name with contemporary Horus names, some Egyptologists question the received throne sequence.
Teti, less commonly known as Othoes, sometimes also Tata, Atat, or Athath in outdated sources, was the first pharaoh of the Sixth dynasty of Egypt. He is buried at Saqqara. The exact length of his reign has been destroyed on the Turin King List but is believed to have been about 12 years.
The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 118 or 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.
The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate set of funerary practices that they believed were necessary to ensure their immortality after death. These rituals and protocols included mummifying the body, casting magic spells, and burial with specific grave goods thought to be needed in the Egyptian afterlife.
Cats in ancient Egypt were represented in social and religious practices of Ancient Egypt for more than 3000 years. Several Ancient Egyptian deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat.
Neferefre Isi was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, likely the fourth but also possibly the fifth ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. He was very probably the eldest son of pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai and queen Khentkaus II, known as prince Ranefer before he ascended the throne.
Abusir is the name given to an Egyptian archaeological locality – specifically, an extensive necropolis of the Old Kingdom period, together with later additions – in the vicinity of the modern capital Cairo. The name is also that of a neighbouring village in the Nile Valley, whence the site takes its name. Abusir is located several kilometres north of Saqqara and, like it, served as one of the main elite cemeteries for the ancient Egyptian capital city of Memphis. Several other villages in northern and southern Egypt are named Abusir or Busiri. Abusir is one relatively small segment of the extensive "pyramid field" that extends from north of Giza to below Saqqara. The locality of Abusir took its turn as the focus of the prestigious western burial rites operating out of the then-capital of Memphis during the Old Kingdom 5th Dynasty. As an elite cemetery, neighbouring Giza had by then "filled up" with the massive pyramids and other monuments of the 4th Dynasty, leading the 5th Dynasty pharaohs to seek sites elsewhere for their own funerary monuments.
Prince Khaemweset was the fourth son of Ramesses II, who was born c. 1303 BCE; died July or August 1213 BCE; reigned 1279–1213 BCE, and the second son by his queen Isetnofret. He is by far the best known son of Ramesses II, and his contributions to Egyptian society were remembered for centuries after his death. Khaemweset has been described as "the first Egyptologist" due to his efforts in identifying and restoring historic buildings, tombs and temples.
The Pyramid of Unas is a smooth-sided pyramid built in the 24th century BC for the Egyptian pharaoh Unas, the ninth and final king of the Fifth Dynasty. It is the smallest Old Kingdom pyramid, but significant due to the discovery of Pyramid Texts, spells for the king's afterlife incised into the walls of its subterranean chambers. Inscribed for the first time in Unas's pyramid, the tradition of funerary texts carried on in the pyramids of subsequent rulers, through to the end of the Old Kingdom, and into the Middle Kingdom through the Coffin Texts that form the basis of the Book of the Dead.
The Pyramid of Teti is a smooth-sided pyramid situated in the pyramid field at Saqqara in Egypt. It is historically the second known pyramid containing pyramid texts. Excavations have revealed a satellite pyramid, two pyramids of queens accompanied by cult structures, and a funerary temple. The pyramid was opened by Gaston Maspero in 1882 and the complex explored during several campaigns ranging from 1907 to 1965. It was originally called Teti's Places Are Enduring. The preservation above ground is very poor, and it now resembles a small hill. Below ground the chambers and corridors are very well preserved.
The Tomb of Perneb is a mastaba-style tomb from ancient Egypt, built during the reigns of Djedkare Isesi and Unas, in the necropolis of Saqqara, north of Pharaoh Djoser's Step Pyramid and about 30 kilometers south of Giza, Egypt. It was the tomb of Perneb, and from the size and placement of the tomb he might have been a court official or royal family member.
The Mastabat al-Fir’aun is the grave monument of the ancient Egyptian king Shepseskaf, the last king of the Fourth Dynasty documented to date. It is located in South Saqqara halfway between the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara and the pyramids of Sneferu, the founder of the fourth dynasty, at Dahshur. The structure is located close to the pyramid of Pepi II, a ruler of the Sixth Dynasty. The stone quarry for the structure is located west of the Red Pyramid of Sneferu.
Qar was a doctor during the Sixth dynasty of Egypt, which lasted from about 2350 to 2180 BC. He was the royal physician.
The Buried Pyramid is an unfinished step pyramid constructed ca. 2645 BC for Sekhemkhet Djoserty. This pharaoh was the second of the Third Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, which reigned over Egypt circa 2686–2613 BC and is usually placed at the beginning of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. Many historians believe that the third dynasty played an important role in the transition from Early Dynastic Period of Egypt to the Age of the Pyramids.
The Pyramid of Neferefre, also known as the Pyramid of Raneferef, is a 25th century BC unfinished pyramid complex built for the Egyptian pharaoh Neferefre of the Fifth Dynasty. Neferefre's unfinished pyramid is the third and final one built on the Abusir diagonal – a figurative line connecting the Abusir pyramids with Heliopolis – of the necropolis, sited south-west of Neferirkare's pyramid.
Ka-Nefer-Nefer was an ancient Egyptian noblewoman who lived during the Nineteenth Dynasty. She is known in modern times for her funerary mask, which is in the possession of the Saint Louis Art Museum. The museum bought the mask in 1998 from the art supplier Phoenix Ancient Art of New York and Geneva. The art supplier said that the mask had been excavated at Saqqara between 1951 and 1952 and had been on the art market by 1952. However, suspicions arose that the mask had instead been stolen from Egypt, and Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, asked that the mask be returned to Egypt. In 2006, the Saint Louis Art Museum rejected Hawass' claim, and the mask remains in Saint Louis.
The Memphite Necropolis is an ancient Egyptian necropolis located in the city of Memphis, Lower Egypt. It includes the sites of Giza, Saqqara and Dahshur. Most of the pyramids of the Old Kingdom were built here, along with many mastabas and other tombs.
The Pyramid of Nyuserre is a mid 25th century BC pyramid complex built for the Egyptian pharaoh Nyuserre Ini of the Fifth Dynasty. During his reign, Nyuserre had the unfinished monuments of his father, Neferirkare Kakai, mother, Khentkaus II, and brother, Neferefre, completed, before commencing work on his personal pyramid complex. He chose a site in the Abusir necropolis between the complexes of Neferirkare and Sahure, which, restrictive in area and terrain, economized the costs of labour and material. Nyuserre was the last king to be entombed in the necropolis, whilst his successors chose to be buried elsewhere.
Wahtye was a high-ranking priest who carried the title of divine inspector, said Mostafa Waziri, the general secretary of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities who led the Egyptian team that discovered the tomb... Several other discoveries have been made this year at Saqqara. They include a 3,300-year-old tomb of a high general, a burial ground containing a 2,500-year-old mummy wearing a silver face mask gilded with gold and a tomb complex that has more over 100 cat statues.
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