Archetypes of pyramids in Saqqara

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Searching the archetype of pyramids at Saqqara had a reason. The first pyramids were built at the necropolis in Saqqara, so this had to be the location of buildings, from which pyramids evolved. The research of other necropolises indicated it as well. Nevertheless it brought a considerable surprise – tombs of several Kings of the first and second dynasty were discovered in Abydos (Abdju), including the tombs of Hor-Aha, Djer, Djet, Den and Qa’a. But tombs of these Kings were also discovered and securely identified at Saqqara.

How could be one man, even though he was a Pharaoh, buried in two places? And if he could be buried in only one place, why he had set up two costly tombs with a huge burial equipment? In which of them was he finally laid to rest then?

Egyptologists believe that the construction of two parallel tombs was one of the terms known as „duality of Egypt“. The Egyptian King was the ruler of the Upper and Lower country, the bearer of the Upper and Lower Egypt crown, and therefore he had to have a tomb in Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt as well. Others explain this situation as a desire of Egyptians to be buried near Osiris’ grave, which was located in Abydos (Abdju) according to myths. If they could not have a real tomb there, they let build a symbolic tomb – cenotaph (if they could afford it) or a tombstone with their name (stele) at least. In general they agree that these Kings were buried at Saqqara, on the necropolis of the unified Egypt capital and that they had only symbolic tombs in Abydos (Abdju).

There are various questions and uncertain answers. Where could we find the starting point of a pyramid? Is it a mastaba of Anedjib and Herneith? Why not to go further and see it in tombs that preceded mastabas? In the tombs of common Egyptians instead the ones of the rulers and dignitaries. After all we only know mastabas from historical times, but the tombs of Egyptian peasant and settled hunters are known from the period of one hundred years before mastabas…

It is clear from excavations that tombs of common Egyptians were of two types towards the end of prehistoric period. Peasants buried their deads in their dwellings in the Lower Egypt; later they built them mud brick „Houses of Deads“ with bevelled walls on the outskirts of villages. A tradition of ancient nomad „march funerals“ was kept alive in the Upper Egypt. They put the deads into holes covered with piles of sand that were lied around by stones and later they built low mounds of bricks on them.

Elements of both these types of tombs were then merged into mastabas. The oldest known type of Egyptian tomb was therefore a hole in sand with a sand mound with reinforced lining. It is possible that this is the beginning of the development, of which a stone mountain called pyramid grew up? It is certainly not impossible. All beginnings are still modest, after all.

Map of Saqqara – the burial place of the 1st and 2nd dynasty

Map of Saqqara – the burial place of the 1st and 2nd dynasty

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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