Good morning ! I would like to start with apologies for not writing for a while. I was too busy seeing and discovering this amazing country – Egypt. I have been always fascinated by Egypt, however seeing it in reality is a totally different story.
So, lets move on to my next destination – Saqqara !
It may not be as famous as the Pyramids of Giza, but Saqqara’s necropolis is where pyramid building in Egypt first began. An easy day trip from Cairo (30 kilometers north), Saqqara is a showcase of the early architecture of the pharaohs.
What is Sakkara??? Saqqara 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).
The most conspicuous landmark of Saqqara is the Step Pyramid, the tomb of the third Dynasty ruler Djoser or Zoser, built by Imhotep and thought to be the earliest major stone structure erected in Egypt. The form of the pyramid can be explained as a development of the large mastabas (mud-brick tombs) of the First and Second Dynasties; the six steps, each smaller than the one below, having been produced by the addition to the original mastaba of successive new layers of masonry, accompanied by the enlargement of the lower stages.
The Step Pyramid stands 60 meters high and is built of locally quarried clay sandstone of poor quality. You can no longer enter the pyramid due to safety issues. The chambers and passages in the interior of the pyramid served partly for the burial of close relatives of the King (in particular those of his sons who died in childhood) and partly for storing grave-goods for the use of the dead.
Necropolis of Saqqara
At the foot of the Saqqara Necropolis, the Imhotep Museum opened in 2006 and is dedicated to the Egyptian architect, Imhotep. There are five halls within the museum with a variety of beautifully-presented displays of finds from throughout the necropolis area. This is the best place to begin any exploration of the Saqqara necropolis.
Pyramid of Teti
Some 500 meters northeast of Djoser’s Pyramid is the mound of earth, which marks the site of the Pyramid of Teti, founder of the Sixth Dynasty. On its east side are the scanty remains of the mortuary temple, remains of an alabaster altar, and many table-like statue bases. Farther east is a confused tangle of structures ranging in date from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period.
Once I have entered his pyramid, it felt unbelievable. As if you can almost feel the energy and all those people, who contributed in building the pyramid. Just be aware, going down and up the steps is not an easy task and you have to mind your head. Also. if you want to take some picture, you will have to ask a permission.
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.
According to N. Kanawati, Teti had at least nine daughters, by a number of wives, and the fact that they were named after his mother, Sesheshet, allows researchers to trace his family. At least three princesses bearing the name Seshseshet are designated as “king’s eldest daughter”, meaning that there were at least three different queens. It seems that there was a tenth one, born of a fourth queen as she is also designated as “king’s eldest daughter”.
During Teti’s reign, high officials were beginning to build funerary monuments that rivaled that of the pharaoh. His vizier, Mereruka, built a mastaba tomb at Saqqara which consisted of 33 richly carved rooms, the biggest known tomb for an Egyptian nobleman. This is considered to be a sign that Egypt’s wealth was being transferred from the central court to the officials, a slow process that culminated in the end to the Old Kingdom.
Manetho states that Teti was murdered by his palace bodyguards in a harem plot, but he may have been assassinated by the usurper Userkare. He was buried in the royal necropolis at Saqqara. His pyramid complex is associated with the mastabas of officials from his reign.
Tomb of Mereruka
The Tomb of Mereruka features unique paintings detailing the deceased involved in daily activities like fishing and inspecting workmen. Some of the best wall paintings are in the first (northern) room where you can see Mereruka and his wife inspecting various operations, goldsmiths making necklaces and vessels, three statues being drawn to the tomb while a priest burns incense, and carpenters making beds.
In the large sacrificial chamber, the reliefs on the north wall show Mereruka inspecting domestic animals, a boat building scene, and Mereruka carried in a litter with a large retinue, including two dwarfs leading dogs.
The funeral complex of Djoser
The pyramid in Saqqara is part of a larger ritual complex, enclosed by a wall of limestone. This wall imitates the palace facade, which recalls bound bundles of reeds. In the wall are present 14 doors, of which only one is a functional entrance, at the southern end of the eastern part of the wall.
From the entrance starts a corridor made of 20 pairs of 6.6-m-high half-columns (columns connected to the wall through pillars), recalling bounds of reeds and created niches. The corridor had originally a ceiling of massive limestone slabs, unfortunately, no longer exist.
At the end of the corridor there was another hall with 20 similar massive columns.
There are plenty of opportunities to purchase a souvenir . However, I would strongly recommend to negotiate it down at least 50%. Even better, get your guide to do it for you.
We were lucky enough to have a great guide – Gad, whom I would recommend to everyone who wants to explore Egypt. He is very knowledgeable, speaks a perfect English, goes beyond and above to make any tour relaxing and very enjoyable.
Gad will provide everything from transportation to lunch for a very reasonable price. His contact details are:
E: firstname.lastname@example.org , T: +20 2100 474 6997 ( Egypt, Cairo)
So far, this is our first stop of the day …Next – Memphis!
Have you ever visited Saqqara? If so, I would like to hear from you. I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to post comments and questions.
Love, Samira xxx