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Saqqara Necropolis

Site (29o51' N 31o14' E), of the principial necropolis of the ancient city of Memphis, situated some 17 km from the Giza, which was in use from the Ist Dynasty to the Christian period (AD 395-540). The entire length of the site is about six kilometers, with a maximum width of about 1.5 km. It has been suggested that the name of the site may be derived from that of the god Sokar. The importance of the Saqqara necropolis is indicated by very crowded nature of the burials, with some having been re-used many times and most having been extensively plundered throughout antiquity. The Ist Dynasty ruler Narmer is the earliest king whose name is known from Saqqara; a stone bowl bearing his name was discovered in one of the extensive storerooms beneath the Step Pyramid of Djoser. It is not impossible that there was originally also a monument of the reign of Narmer at Saqqara, since slightly later Ist Dynasty mastaba tombs are well attested at the site, forming a distinct group along the northeastern edge of the plateau. Building of the Step Pyramid was the first time that stone architecture had been used on such a large scale in Egypt. Mastaba tombs were constructed at Saqqara for the Memphite elite during the Old Kingdom, many of them focusing closely on the pyramids of the kings, which date from Djoser to the XIIIth Dynasty monument of Khendjer. In the New Kingdom many tombs of nobles were build at Saqqara necropolises. These tombs are date between Akhetaten (XVIII Dynasty) and Ramesses II (XIX Dynasty). There was also New Kingdom activity in northwestern Saqqara, in the form of the hypogea of the sacred Apis bull, which began to the buried in the underground galleries of the Serapeum from at least the time of Amenhotep III until the Roman Period. Private tombs of post New Kingdom date XXVIth and XXVIIth Dynasties are also located near the pyramid of Unas.Tombs of the XXXth Dynasty and Greco-Roman Period are clustered mainly on the northern side of the Step Pyramid, and towards the Serapeum.



A - Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser
B - unfinished pyramid complex of Sekhemkhet
C - pyramid complex of Usekaf
D - pyramid complex of Teti
E - pyramid of Khuit
F - pyramid of Iput
G - pyramid of Unas
H - New Kingdom Necropolis
I - boat pit
J - monastery of Apa Jeremias
K - Unas valley temple
L - New Kingdom necropolis
M - areas of Old Kingdom mastaba tombs
N - area of hawk, baboon and 'Mother of Apis catacombs, also temples to sacred animals
O - entrance to north ibis catacomb
P - south ibis catacomb
1 - S3507 - Queen Herneith ? [Den] (44.35 x 22.25 m)
2 -  tomb X (26 x 12 m) [Den]
3 - S3506 (47.6 x 19.6 m) [I
st Dynasty]
4 - S3505 - Merka [Qa'a] (65 x 37 m)
5 - S3504 - Sekhemka [Djet] (56.45 x 25.45 m)
6 - S3503 - Seshemka [Merytneith] (42.6 x 16 m)
7 - S3500 (37.1 x 23.35 m) [Qa'a]
8 - S2185 [I
st Dynasty]
9 - S2105 [II
nd-IIIrd Dynasty]
10 - S3471 [Djer] (41.3 x 15.15)
11 - S3357 [Hor-Aha] (48.2 x 22 m) the earliest mastaba known on the necropolis
12 - S3338 [Andjib] (37 x 13.85 m)
13 - S3120 [I
st Dynasty]
14 - S3121 [I
st Dynasty]
15 - S3035 - Hemaka [Den] (57.3 x 26 m)
16 - S3036 - Ankhka [Den] (41 x 22 m)
17 - S3038 - Nebetka [Den] (22.7 x 10.55 m)
18 - S3111 - Sabu [Andjib] (29.20 x 12.05 m)
19 - S3041 [Ist Dynasty]
20 - mastaba of Ptahhotep
21 - mastaba of Ty
22 - mastaba of Mereruka
23 - mastaba of Kagemni
24 - mastaba of Ankhmahor
25 - tomb of Aper-el
26 - mastaba of Khenut
27 - mastaba of Nebet
28 - mastaba of Idut
29 - mastaba of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum
30 - tomb of Horemheb
31 - tomb of Maya

Fragment aerial view of necropolis. In the middle - pyramid complex of Djoser, in upper-left corner - pyramid of Unas, on the right-down side - complex pyramid of Teti.


South Saqqara

A - monastery of Apa Jeremias
B - modern settlement
C - pyramid of Pepi I
D - pyramid of Djedkare Isesi
E - pyramid of Nemtiemsaf I
F - pyramid of Pepi II
G - pyramid of Kakare Ibi
H - tomb of Shepseskaf (mastabat el-Fara'un)
I - unfinished pyramid
J - pyramid of Khendjer

The ruins of Pepi I's pyramid.

Pyramid of Pepi II




The buildings associated with the cult of the Apis bull or that of the later syncretyc god Serapis. The Serapeum at Saqqara consists of a series of catacombs to the northwest of the Step Pyramid of Djoser. The Serapeum was excavated in 1851 by August Mariette, who was led to the site through his discovery of traces of some of the sphinxes lining the dromos (sacred way), which are faithfully described by the Strabo. The catacombs date back at least as early as the XVIIIth Dynasty and continued in use until the Ptolemaic Period. They contain many massive granite sarcophagi weighing up to 80 tons, although all but one had been robbed of their burials.

  A - entrance
B - burial made under Cambyses
C - burial made under Amasis
D - last Apis burial of the XXX Dynasty

Copyright 2000-2013 Dariusz Sitek, Czestochowa - Chicago - Ann Arbor