is one of the oldest ancient Egyptian cemeteries and it
was the necropolis of Memphis. Today it is one of the
most important archaeological sites in Egypt because monuments
of most of the principal dynasties are represented there.
Many pharaohs with their court dignitaries were buried
Pyramid of Unas
The pyramid of Unas, the last pharaoh of the 5th dynasty
is situated to the south of the Stepped Pyramid of King
Zoser. The pyramid of Unas is famous for its burial chamber,
where its walls are covered with what is known as the
"Pyramid Text", the first collection of religious
texts drawn up during the Old Kingdom and destined to
protect and guide the dead pharaoh during his journey
in the "other world". The tomb chamber still
contains the granite sarcophagus of the king. South to
the Pyramid of Unas, the so called Persian tombs of the
26th dynasty are located, where a shaft of 25 metres in
depth is leading to three beautifully decorated burial
name arose because the Apis Bull once dead and deified,
was named Osir-Apis, which the Greeks converted into Serapis,
from which the name Serapeum derived. The structure in
which the sacred bulls were buried is a subterranean gallery.
The overall length of all corridors combined totals several
hundred metres. There are 24 sarcophagi of up to 70 tons
of black granite can be seen at the Serapeum.
Mastaba of Meruka
Close to King Teti's pyramid, is the most complex mastaba
of the 6th dynasty situated, containing 33 chambers with
many magnificent wall inscriptions. Particularly original
in its conception is the scene showing hunting and fishing,
in which plants and animals are freely distributed all
over the available space in a fantastic manner.
Mastaba of Ti
The reliefs in this mastaba are considered to be among
the most beautiful exampled from the period of the Old
Kingdom, with scenes showing men and women at various
jobs like ship-building, ploughing and reaping grain.
Originally, a mastaba tomb was planned for King Zoser
(3rd dynasty) in 2816 BC, by his physician and architect
Imhotep. Finally, after several extensions, it became
a 60 metres high stepped pyramid composed of six steps
in the middle of the necropolis of Saqqara. At the base,
the Step Pyramid is rectangular and measures 123.5 x 107
metres and is surrounded by a mortuary compound of Zoser,
which is the oldest stone structure of this dimension
in the world.
The Apis Bull lived in a stable in front of the temple
of Ptah, the creator of the world. There, the animal received
offerings from its worshippers and pronounced its oracles.
After its death it was mummified and buried in a tomb
in the desert. Up until the 19th dynasty each bull had
its own separate burial place. Later on, Ramses II created
a common burial place for them, which was enlarged by
the Ptolemaic period, known today as Serapeum.
Saqqara is well known for the mastaba-type tombs of the
ancient Egyptian nobles. The tomb walls bear inscriptions
showing scenes of daily life in ancient Egypt, such as:
farming, animal breeding, hunting, as well as religious
rites and offerings to the owners of the mastabas and
to the gods.
Mastaba of Ptah Hotep
The walls of the offering chambers are covered by colourful
reliefs, depicting everyday life scenes. The most important
scene shows Ptah Hotep, being entertained by a band of