If you are looking to explore Saqqara Complex and know more information about ancient Egypt we’ve got you covered with a list of what you can see.
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History of Saqqara Complex
It is an Egyptian town in the Giza Governorate with the ancient royal burial grounds that served as Memphis’ cemetery in ancient Egypt.
There are several pyramids at Saqqara, including the Step pyramid of Djoser, the Step Tomb, and other mastaba tombs.
The Pyramid of Djoser, constructed at Saqqara during the Third Dynasty, is the earliest complete stone structure complex known to history.
At Saqqara, sixteen more Egyptian monarchs built pyramids that are now in varying degrees of preservation.
High officials placed private burial monuments throughout the Pharaonic period in this cemetery.
For over 3,000 years, far into the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, it remained a significant complex for non-royal burials and religious rituals.
Abusir is to the north, while Dahshur is to the south of the Saqqara region.
The stretch of land between Giza and Dahshur, formerly utilized as a cemetery by Memphis residents, was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.
Some academics contend that Saqqara comes from the nearby Berber clan of Beni Saqar, not from the ancient Egyptian funeral god Sokar.
Saqqara is like a real-life open-air museum, with artifacts and displays covering the whole of ancient Egyptian history.
Here, the very first kings and noblemen of Egypt’s first two dynasties were laid to rest.
This is also the site of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, the earliest architectural edifice in the world wholly composed of stone.
For 5,000 years of Egyptian history, Saqqara has been a significant historical site. It is the sprawling necropolis and pyramid field of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt.
The modest square tombs (mastabas) of the first and second dynasties’ rulers are located in this expansive territory some 20 miles south of Cairo.
Most notably, the first pharaoh of the third dynasty, Djoser, requested that the first monument in ancient Egypt made entirely of stone be constructed for him by his senior architect and vizier.
The result is the well-known step pyramid of Saqqara and the adjacent funeral complex, encircled by a massive wall that possibly served as a model for Memphis’ division.
The New Kingdom necropolis at Saqqara is divided into four major areas:
- Graves were constructed atop Old Kingdom tombs and adjacent to King Teti’s temple to the north and east of his Pyramid (6th dynasty).
- The Bubasteion, or catacombs for the cats of the Cat-goddess Bastet, are located on the eastern cliff and belong to the Late Period. From the commencement of the 18th dynasty, encompassing the Amarna Period, up through the reign of Ramses II, rock-cut tombs were dug here. Aper-El, Amenophis III’s vizier, Maya, King Tutankhamun’s wet nurse, and the Hatiay scribe of the Aton temple in Memphis are buried in the most well-known tombs on this cliff.
- This building leads to the king’s Pyramid, the first in history to feature religious inscriptions (Pyramid Texts) on the walls of its burial chamber, which is located south of the King Unas (5th dynasty) causeway.
- Saqqara North, south of Abusir: Here are rock-cut tombs from the 19th dynasty, mostly during King Ramses II’s reign.
What you can see in Saqqara Complex
1- Imhotep museum
The new museum’s construction started in 1997.
The plan was to create a unique location just for the many discoveries made in this region.
Visitors will be happy to see nicely arranged antiques, well-air-conditioned buildings, and contemporary restroom facilities close to the entrance, not far from where the ticket office was originally situated.
The museum is divided into five halls: 1) the theatre and a model of the funeral complex, 2) the main hall with the architectural features, 3) new discoveries, 4) the model tomb hall, and 5) the Jean-Philippe Lauer library.
2- The step pyramid of Djoser
Djoser’s Step Pyramid in Saqqara is one of Egypt’s most iconic monuments—and rightfully so. It constitutes a significant historical turning point in ancient Egyptian funerary monuments, revolutionizing stone architecture, and royal burials. In addition to its beauty and monumental scale, it is not only the first Pyramid the ancient Egyptians ever built but also the oldest known ancient Egyptian stone structure.
The structure consists of the six distinct layers, or steps, of diminishing size built on top of one another.
Archeologists understand this to be an embellishment of earlier and earlier practices where pharaohs were buried under a mastaba, a flat rectangular structure somewhat like a large grave covering.
3- Pyramid of Unas
The Fifth Dynasty saw the construction of the Unas Pyramid.
Despite its modest size, this Pyramid is notable because it contains the earliest example of the Pyramid Texts, a kind of funerary writing.
The dead pharaoh was helped on his trip to the afterlife by the spells included in these inscriptions, which were engraved on the burial chamber’s walls.
The pyramid complex has two temples connected by a substantial causeway, as with most pyramids. You may see the remnants of the valley temple at the current entry to the Saqqara site.
The intricately carved causeway was destroyed and utilized by successive monarchs for other purposes. However, some of it is still there and gives tourists a taste of how it originally appeared.
4- Double mastaba of nebet and khenut
King Unas’ wives were Queens Nebet (Nebit) and Khenut (Unis). The Necropolis of Saqqara’s part of the Pyramid of their spouse is where you may find the Double Mastaba of Nebet and Khenut.
The ground design and arrangement of the two halves of the double mastaba are identical. While the Nebet portion is intriguing, well-preserved, and merits serious investigation, the Khenut portion is severely damaged.
There are three chambers total, with the second being the most fascinating. The second chamber has a doorway that leads to a gallery. The magnificently designed walls of this exhibition are what I find most intriguing.
The southeast side entry opens onto a sizable antechamber.
This antechamber’s walls are ornamented with reliefs depicting Queen Nebet paddling a boat across the marshes and images of funeral objects, sacrifices, animals, and the harem.
One of the harem’s female members is a dwarf, and Nebet is also shown with attendants bringing in food and sleds loaded with giant jars.
The queen is shown in another scenario sitting in front of votive offerings.
The queen and her daughters are seen in a beautiful tableau accepting votive gifts, mainly cattle. Into a chapel with four niches holding sculptures of the queen is reached through a passageway. On the east wall opposite them, some reliefs show votive offerings. The walls of the tomb include images of four enormous unguent pots.
5- Monastery of st Jeremiah Saqqara
The monastery was built in the second half of the fifth century and was destroyed by the Arabs in AD 960. Its structures included two churches, a refectory, a bakery, an oil press, various offices, St. Jeremias’ chamber, and monks’ quarters.
For the Egyptian pharaoh Userkaf, the first ruler of the 5th dynasty, the Userkaf Pyramid Complex was constructed in 2490 BC. It is situated northeast of the step pyramid of Djoser in the Saqqara pyramid area, built of dressed stone above a rubble core.
6- Pyramid of Userkaf
In addition to a separate pyramid and mortuary temple for Userkaf’s wife, queen Neferhetepes, the complex where Userkaf’s Pyramid is located also includes an offering chapel, a cult pyramid, and a mortuary temple.
The funerary temple and cult pyramid of Userkaf are now destroyed and obscured. The queen’s Pyramid is little more than a pile of debris, with stone thieves breaking into its funeral chamber.
7- Pyramid Complex of Teti
In Saqqara, next to the Step Pyramid of Djoser, Teti, the first monarch of the Sixth Dynasty constructed his pyramidal structure.
It was 52.5 m tall when it was finished. Although tiny chunks of local limestone and garbage fill make up its core, the design was once covered with blocks of beautiful limestone.
As a result, when the casing blocks were removed in ancient times, the core lost its ability to maintain its form and started to droop. Consequently, the Pyramid resembles a typical hill in modest ways. But the substructure is still there.
The few remnants of the mortuary temple, an altar made of alabaster, and several bases for statues in the shape of tables may all be found on its east side.
A jumble of buildings dating from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic era may be found farther east.
8- Tomb of Mereruka
North of the Teti pyramid at Saqqara, Mereruka was buried in a mastaba.
It is one of the biggest in the Teti cemetery and among the Old Kingdom’s most elaborately adorned tombs, reflecting his position.
The performance of the worship for the owner of the tomb’s spirit often took place in the chambers within the mastaba.
Thirty rooms make up Mereruka’s enormous mastaba, including five for his wife and five more for his kid.
The Old Kingdom is shown in this tomb’s many exquisite images, including the harpooning of hippopotami, the herding of livestock across wetlands, and scenes of fishing and hunting. All of these scenarios are depicted in incredibly realistic detail.
The holy Apis bulls connected to the deity Ptah, whose cult center was at Memphis, are buried in the Serapeum in Saqqara.
The Serapeum consists of two long hallways and is reached by an avenue of sphinxes, previously held the mummified remains of the bulls.
From the reign of Amenhotep III in the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period, the tomb was used.
Numerous rulers are mentioned in inscriptions as having offered at the Serapeum.
As princes and High Priests of Ptah, two of Ramses II’s sons, Khaem-waset and Meren-Ptah, presented several bulls, jewels, and shabtis.
10- The Mastaba of Ti
In 1865, Auguste Mariette discovered the Mastaba of Ti.
This expansive and intricate private tomb is not only a masterpiece of Old Kingdom art but also one of our key sources of information on daily living in the Old Kingdom Egypt.
Its owner, Ti, oversaw the Abu Sir pyramids and sun temples during the 5th dynasty, among other things.
The magnificent craftsmanship of his tomb is consistent with his nickname, Ti the Rich.
The Mastaba of Ti, which belonged to a high court official and wealthy landowner in the early Fifth Dynasty, is one of the most critical sites in Saqqara and is located northeast of the Serapeum.
11- Mastaba el-Fara’un
The Mastaba el-Fara’un is the most significant structure that can be found in the Southern Necropolis of Saqqara.
Its original dimensions were 100 meters in length and 73.5 meters in width, and it was designed to resemble a large coffin with a barrel ceiling.
It was constructed out of enormous blocks, and its outside was covered with Tura limestone. This is the tomb of Shepseskaf, the last king of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt.
The passageways within are laid out in a manner that is comparable to those of the pyramids that Unas and his successors constructed.
An extremely tiny corridor, barely 1.3 meters high and 20 meters long, originally coated with granite slabs, descends to the chambers seven meters below the base of the mastaba. This route may be accessed via the entrance on the north side of the mastaba.
These were made entirely of granite and had three stone portcullises to keep people out.
The coffin was broken into a few pieces, but the rest of the burial chamber had been pillaged by grave robbers and was in complete disarray.
12- Southern tomb
The South tomb dates to the 3rd Dynasty of the Old Kingdom and is situated in the southwest corner of the King Djoser funerary complex.
The oldest stone structure from antiquity is this fantastic complex. It was initially named “Southern Tomb” after being found in 1928 by English archaeologist Cecil Malaby Firth.
Notably, the tomb is made up of an upper level that takes the form of a stone edifice with a rectangular shape.
Its outside is embellished with a frieze of cobra heads, which stands for strength and protection, and a succession of stone holes shaped like entrances and exits.
The entrance to the burial chamber, which is at the bottom of a large shaft measuring 7.5 x 7.5 m and having a depth of about 31 m, is located on the lower level of the tomb.
It comprises a massive sarcophagus made of 16 blocks of pink granite, each measuring roughly 3.60 m high, 3.5 m wide, and 3.6 m long. In addition, the well and coffin are comparable to those found within the step pyramid.
One of Egypt’s most significant archaeological sites is Saqqara, which may be found around 33 kilometers south of Cairo. The site was used as a cemetery for more than 3,000 years, during which time it was home to the 4,700-year-old Step Pyramid, which is Egypt’s oldest surviving pyramid and is about 200 years older than the more renowned Pyramids at Giza.
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