Ṣaqqārah


Ṣaqqārah

Site of ancient ruins, Lower Egypt.

Part of the necropolis of the ancient city of Memphis, it is located southwest of Cairo and west of the modern village of Ṣaqqārah. The earliest remains are from the Archaic Period, in a cemetery at the northern end of the site, where large mud-brick tombs, or mastabas, have been found dating to the beginning of Egyptian history. South of the Archaic cemetery lies the Step Pyramid, the oldest pyramid in Egypt. It was built by Djoser, second king of the 3rd dynasty, who ruled с 2650–с 2575 BC.

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▪ archaeological site, Memphis, Egypt
also spelled  Sakkara 
 
part of the necropolis of the ancient Egyptian (Egypt, ancient) city of Memphis, 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Cairo and west of the modern Arab village of Ṣaqqārah. The site extends along the edge of the desert plateau for about 5 miles (8 km), bordering Abū Ṣīr to the north and Dahshūr to the south. In 1979 the ancient ruins of the Memphis area, including Ṣaqqārah (World Heritage site), Abū Ṣīr, Dahshūr, Abū Ruwaysh, and the Pyramids of Giza (Giza, Pyramids of), were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

      The earliest remains at Ṣaqqārah are those in the early dynastic cemetery at the northernmost end of the site, where large mud-brick tombs, or mastabas (art and architecture, Egyptian), have been found that date to the very beginning of Egyptian history. Although storage jars found in the mastabas bore the names of the kings of the 1st dynasty (Egypt, ancient) (c. 2925–c. 2775 BCE), it seems that these tombs were those of high officials of the period.

 South of the Early Dynastic (Egypt, ancient) cemetery lies the Step Pyramid complex of Djoser, second king of the 3rd dynasty (Egypt, ancient) (c. 2650–c. 2575 BCE). Djoser's architect Imhotep designed a new form of burial structure for the king in the shape of a pyramid in six stages. Around the pyramid lies a huge complex of halls and courts in which the prototype structures of mud brick, wood, and reed were for the first time translated into fine limestone. Shepseskaf of the 4th dynasty (Egypt, ancient) (c. 2575–c. 2465 BCE) built Maṣṭabat Firʿawn, a coffin-shaped tomb, and several kings of the 5th dynasty (Egypt, ancient) (c. 2465–c. 2325 BCE) also constructed their pyramids (pyramid) at Ṣaqqārah. Unas, the last king of the 5th dynasty, was the first to inscribe on the walls of his pyramid chambers the Pyramid Texts, which were designed to protect the dead king and to ensure him life and sustenance in the hereafter. Succeeding kings of the 6th dynasty (Egypt, ancient) (c. 2325–c. 2150 BCE) continued the practice of inscribing Pyramid Texts in the underground chambers. With the exception of Teti, the 6th-dynasty kings built their pyramids to the south of Unas's pyramid, and the most southerly is that of a 13th-dynasty (Egypt, ancient) (c. 1756–c. 1630 BCE) king.

      Around the pyramids of their sovereigns, the Old Kingdom (Egypt, ancient) (c. 2575–c. 2130 BCE) nobles were buried in mastabas. The wall carvings within their tombs depict scenes of daily life.

      During the Middle Kingdom (Egypt, ancient) (1938–c. 1630 BCE) relatively few tombs were added to in the Ṣaqqārah necropolis. In the New Kingdom (Egypt, ancient) (c. 1539–1075 BCE), however, Memphis became a principal administrative and military centre, and a number of tombs from that period have been found, including the finely decorated tomb of the general, later king, Horemheb, rediscovered in 1975. Also, in that era and later the sacred Apis bulls were buried at Ṣaqqārah in large subterranean galleries, the most famous of which is the Serapeum. The last imposing tombs to be built in Ṣaqqārah were those of several great officials of the Saite and Persian periods. In the northeastern part of the necropolis, beneath a field of mastabas of the 3rd and 4th dynasties, another complex of underground passages contains thousands of ibis mummies of the Ptolemaic period (Egypt, ancient).

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Universalium. 2010.

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