Necropolis of Sakkara in Egypt - treasures, mummies and pyramids
Sakkara is the largest funerary complex in Lower Egypt near the ancient capital - Memphis. This is one of the largest archaeological sites in the country, there are still sealed tombs. Unfortunately, Sakkara is underestimated by the tourism industry, although there is a lot of interesting for tourists. Let's start our story with a title.
The official version says that the name "Saqqara" comes from the name of the ancient Egyptian god Sokar. In Russian, the similarity of these words is obvious, but we pronounce the name of this god differently than is accepted throughout the world. More often the name of this god is pronounced as "Saker".
Sokar (Seker) was the god of the afterlife in Memphis. He was revered in the Ancient Kingdom, until his cult gradually became replaced by the cult of Osiris.
It is worth noting one important feature of the ancient Egyptian writing. Ancient hieroglyphs display only consonant letters, and there are simply no vowels in the inscriptions. All Egyptian vowels are added by themselves, based on experience and their own understanding.
We can not say exactly how a word was read. Therefore, both versions of "Seker" and "Sokar" have equal rights to exist.
Of course, it is advantageous for Egyptians to support this version, as it is more attractive for tourists. Egyptologists also prefer a more romantic version of the ancient god. But there is a more plausible version about the origin of the name "Saqqara", it comes from the name of the local Berber tribe "Beni Sakkar".
The main thing is interesting Sakkara
In Egypt, there are many historical sights , but they all belong to a certain period. For example, if you enter the Karnak temple , you will notice that its elements are made in the same style of the era of the New Kingdom. All Egyptian pyramids of Giza are similar to each other, this is the era of the Ancient Kingdom.
In Sakkar, monuments of all the dynasties from the 1st to the 31st and also the Hellenistic period of the Ptolemaic dynasty were preserved. This is the only place in the world. In the Cairo Museum there are exhibits of all the dynasties, but these are artifacts, not monuments.
A bit of history
Some burials in Saqqara date back to the 1st and 2nd dynasties of the pharaohs, which suggests that the burial complex arose in the pre-dynastic period. Before the 27th century BC. e. it was the burial place of the noble and wealthy citizens of the city of Memphis.
Pharaoh Djoser from the III dynasty was the first of the Egyptian pharaohs to build a tomb in Saqqara. Before him, all the pharaohs were buried in the city of Abydos.
He erected the first pyramid in Egypt, which has been preserved here until our days. It is the stepped pyramid of Djoser - the main local landmark.
After Djoser, the Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty built the pyramids south of Sakkara on the Giza plateau. Pyramid of Cheops , Pyramid of Khafre and Pyramid of Mikerin are known to all tourists. About the necropolis Sakkars temporarily forgotten.
After Pharaoh Mikerin, the rulers of the V and VI dynasties again build the pyramids in Saqqara. The reasons for such changes in fashion for the location of the tombs, we do not know, from the Old Kingdom, there are very few written sources. Altogether 16 pharaohs were buried here, possibly more.
In the subsequent periods of the history of Egypt in Saqqara, the tombs of noble people were arranged. Here he built himself a tomb of Horemheb, who was the commander of the armed forces under Pharaoh Tutankhamun. After the death of Tutankhamen, the power was usurped by the courtier Eia, and Horemheb replaced him. However, Horemheb himself made himself a new tomb in the Valley of the Kings , and in Sakkara his wife is buried.
In all the epochs of ancient Egypt, rich and noble Egyptians were buried in Saqqara. As a result, the necropolis grew to a record size of 6 by 1.5 kilometers. But not always for the dead were building new tombs. In the Ptolemaic era, new sarcophagi were placed in old tombs, the idea of a "communal" is truly immortal.
Now archaeologists are actively working in Saqqara. In the tombs almost always there are mummies of the Ancient Kingdom and other eras. Mummies of the Ancient Kingdom look simply awful. Often these are not even mummies, but their remains, torn to shreds.
Sakkara was completely plundered at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. in the first transition period. The robbers sought amulets of precious metals in the veil of mummies, and "did not stand on ceremony".
In Saqqara, several untouched tombs of the Old Kingdom with whole mummies were found. Such findings are a great success, and they instantly become famous throughout the world. Of course, such a "catch" as in the tomb of Tutankhamun was not found in Saqqara, but some finds are of great value for science.
The most famous find among Egyptologists is the "Sakkar List" of 58 Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It lists the kings from the 1st to the 19th dynasty. This list is incomplete, but it gave us a lot to determine the chronology of the history of Egypt.
What to see in Sakkara
First of all, this is a stepped pyramid of Djoser . Click on the link and read our great article about it.
In addition to the pyramid of Djoser, there are pyramids of pharaohs of the V and VI dynasties, they are smaller in size. The largest of them is the pyramid of Pharaoh Unas (pictured on the left).
All these pyramids were built not from stone blocks, but from rubble with clay. Blocks of limestone were still used, but not as a basic building material, but for giving a beautiful appearance.
All these pyramids look sad now. Many tourists do not even go to look at them, paying more attention to temples, mastabas and the museum.
Around the pyramid of Djoser is a large funerary complex with an area of 15 hectares. On the north side of the pyramid you can see a small building "serdab". Through the holes in this building, the deceased pharaoh was offered gifts.
Inside is a statue of Pharaoh Joser. This is a copy, and the original can be viewed in the Cairo Museum . This statue is the first Egyptian sculpture of a man in full growth. It was found here during the expedition of 1924-25.
The complex was fenced with a wall 10.5 meters high, which is now almost completely destroyed. In some places, this wall can still be seen.
There were 14 doors in the wall, and only one in the south corner was a real entrance. The rest of the doors were fake, they had a ritual meaning. These doors were considered a transition between the worlds of the living and the dead. The ancients believed that the deceased pharaoh could enter the complex through any of them, if necessary.
Well preserved colonnade leading to the southern square. These columns reached 6.5 meters in height. When tourists see them, they think they are Greek. In fact, this is the work of the Egyptian masters, and these columns are 4,500 years old. At that time in Greece, no columns even "did not smell", the Minoan palaces in Crete were just emerging.
The remaining objects in the territory of Saqqara, we will not describe in detail. There are so many interesting things, come and see. Let us dwell on how you can get here.
How to get there
The easiest way is to visit Sakkara as part of a tour group. So cheaper and easier. The only negative is the time limit for staying in the necropolis. You just will not have time to see everything interesting.
Independently you can get here by taxi . From Giza to Sakkara about 25 kilometers, the trip will cost 50 Egyptian pounds in one direction. But keep in mind that you need to go back again, and it's difficult to catch a taxi in the Saqqara itself for the return journey. Better to pay the driver a simple - about 20 pounds per hour.
There are buses going to Sakkara, but they stop in the village, not on a plateau. Rising to the necropolis is not the most fun thing to do.
What's the cover charge
The price of entering the necropolis is 60 Egyptian pounds.
What time is the attraction open for visiting
From 8-00 to 16-00. Mummies do not have weekends and breaks for lunch.
How long to plan for Sakkary
If you want to see the pyramid of Djoser and the most interesting objects, then two hours will suffice "with interest." If you want to see everything in Saqqara, then plan the whole day. The latter will be interesting to lovers of ancient history. According to experience, an ordinary tourist Sakkara bored already at the third hour of the inspection.
Museum of Imhotep
Many of the finds from Sakkara can be seen in the local museum, named after the priest of Imhotep. His image is well-known to tourists thanks to the films "Mummy", he became one of the most famous Egyptians in history. It was Imhotep who was the architect of the pyramid of Djoser, and after his death was deified.
There are six rooms in the museum. In the first room there is a statue of Joser, which was partially preserved. She greets visitors. This statue is notable for the fact that it can be found on the name Imhotep. The mention of the minister on the statue of the pharaoh is a rare honor.
In the remaining halls, interesting artifacts are found, found by archaeologists in Saqqara. Of special interest is the fourth hall. Here you can see the elements of the tiles from the pyramid of Djoser. Inside the pyramids tourists are not allowed, but the decoration of the burial chamber can be seen in the museum.
The sixth hall is dedicated to the most famous archaeologist working on excavations in Saqqara, Jean-Philippe Lauer (pictured right). He worked here for 75 years.
Almost everything you see in Saqqara was excavated by expeditions led by this man. The last expedition he spent at the age of more than 90 years! The Egyptian workers nicknamed him "forgotten by the gods," since, apparently, the gods forgot to call this archaeologist into the afterlife. Jean-Philippe Lauer died in Paris in 2001 at the age of 99 years.
Songs of the Pyramids
Probably, many readers have heard about the "texts of the pyramids" or "songs of the pyramids." These are texts of religious content that tell about the Egyptians' views on the afterlife, the procedures for acquiring this second life, about gods and pharaohs.
Many tourists with lust enter the pyramid of Cheops in Giza, hoping to see these inscriptions. But, alas. There are no inscriptions there at all.
Up to the V of the traditions of tradition, there were no walls of tombs with frescoes and bas-reliefs yet. This custom arose only in the 24th century. During this period, all the pharaohs were buried here. "Songs of the Pyramids" is only in Saqqara, and nowhere else.
Tourists are not allowed to enter the pyramids of V and VI, and this is for the better. They are very badly affected by time, and it's not safe to be there.
It's a pity, but the "songs of the pyramids" will not look, and on this sad note we are forced to finish this article. Do not be discouraged and read other articles about Egypt on our tourist site ( links below ).
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