About Egyptian Pyramids

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston




We know of about six pyramids near the pyramid of Pepi I in South Saqqara. We assume all of these belong to his family and that nearly all of them were in fact consorts of Pepi I.



Ground Plan of The Pyramids of Pepi I's Queens and Family at South Saqqara in Egypt


Ground Plan of The Pyramids of Pepi I's Queens and Family at South Saqqara in Egypt


Attempting to put it together. The placement of Pepi I, Nebwenet, Inenek-Inti and the Southwest Pyramid should be to scale. The placement and size of Meritites and Ankhesenpepi II and III's pyramids are estimated.



The Pyramid of Queen Nebwenet


The eastern most of these pyramids belonged to a queen named Nebwenet (Nebuunet). We believe that she was a consort of Pepi I. However, we believe their may be another pyramid possibly located farther east. There is little left of Nebwenet's pyramid, though enough is there for us to estimate its basic layout. It included a small pyramid and an even smaller mortuary temple


The small, simple mortuary temple was located in front of the pyramid's east wall. The temple entrance was located in a small antechamber to the north and a path from this room also led to the open courtyard around the pyramid. The entrance to the mortuary temple first led to a chapel-like room with three niches for statues, and then into the offering hall complete with a false door. The offering halls is somewhat south of the pyramid's east-west axis.


The pyramid was, as most were at Saqqara, built of limestone. The entrance to the pyramid was in its north courtyard in the pavement under a north chapel made of mudbrick Only a fragment of a limestone alter was found in the chapel's ruins. The entrance led to a corridor that descended, later becoming wider and flat thus constituting a small vestibule. Just before the burial chamber was a simple pink granite barrier.


The burial chamber itself is located just south of the pyramid's vertical axis. It is oriented east-west. It had a flat ceiling, and no inscriptions on the walls such as the pyramid text found not only in Pepi I's pyramid but also . There was no mummy found in the burial chamber, but fragments of a pink granite sarcophagus were recovered. A side room, or serdab, to the east o the burial chamber contained fragments of funerary equipment including a cylindrical wooden weight used in weaving, wooden objects in the form of ostrich feathers (possibly symbolic of the goddess Mat), and other items.




  • Height: 21m
  • Base: 20.96m


The Pyramid of Queen Inenek-Inti


The pyramid just to the west of Nebwenet's pyramid is that of Inenek-Inti, probably another wife of Pepi I.


Both the pyramid and the mortuary temple of Queen Inenek-Inti are somewhat larger than those of Queen Nebwenet, and the complex also has its own enclosure wall. It apparently even had its own cult pyramid on the pyramid's southeast corner.


The mortuary temple itself is highly unusual, wrapping about the pyramid on the east, north and south sides. It was entered from the north into a small chamber that led directly into a columned courtyard near the northeast corner of the pyramid. West of this courtyard was a two columned chamber and then a number of storage rooms. To the courtyard's south we first encounter a three niche chapel-like area for statues, and then an offering hall


The pyramid itself, though slightly larger, has just about the same ground floor as that of Queen Nebwenet. It too was entered from the pavement of the pyramid courtyard on the north side, where a north chapel was located. It had a descending corridor, becoming level and wider and leading to a burial chamber, with a small room off to its east. However, in this pyramid, the burial chamber is centered on the pyramid's axis.


The Southwestern Pyramid


West of Inenek-Inti, often described as the "Southwestern Pyramid". belonged to perhaps a queen, but we do not know her name. An inscription describes her as the "eldest daughter of the king". We do not know this woman's position, or whether she was a wife or perhaps a daughter of Pepi I.


The mortuary temple we are told was built in haste, and very little of it remains. An unusual aspect though is that the chapel like niche room only had two niches for statues. There was, of course, also an offering hall, but the general layout is unknown. There were a number of relief fragments found within the ruins, portraying scenes of processions of courtiers, mortuary estates, and a fragment of a cartouche containing the name of Pepi I.


The ruins of this pyramid only stand about three meters high, but its original size was very similar to that of Queen Nebwenet's pyramid, even though the substructure differed substantially. While the entrance and entrance corridor was very similar to that of both Nebwenet's and Inenek-Inti's pyramid, here, the burial chamber sits on the pyramid's vertical axis, and the small adjoining room {Serdab) is to the south of the burial chamber. Within this small chamber was found two rolls of fine linen, a gilded wooden sandal and copper utensils.


Parts of a pink granite sarcophagus and other items similar to those in Nebwenet's pyramid were found within the burial chamber. These included wooden weights used in weaving, wooden feathers (symbolic of Matt), copper fishhooks and large vessels made of fired clay.




  • Height: 21m
  • Base: 20.96m


Other Pyramids in the Area and Fairly Recent Discoveries


The Pyramid of Meritites


Another pyramid in the area has been identified as belonging to Meritites (Merytytyes) who is described as a "daughter of the king and wife of the king". This pyramid lies to the south of the "Southwestern Pyramid", but little else is known. To the north of the "Southwestern Pyramid" is a tomb that we are told belongs to a prince Hernetjerikhet.


The Pyramid of Ankhesenpepi III


Recently, the pyramid of Ankhesenpepi III was discovered near the southwest corner of the king's pyramid. In the badly damaged burial chamber, apparently a sarcophagus was found which was cut from a huge sandstone block and embedded in the floor. The lid of the sarcophagus was formed from a huge roughly dressed block of pink granite. It should be noted that the name Ankhesenpepi III corrisponds to the name, Ankhnesmerire. We know that Ankhnesmerire I and II married Pepi I, but we do not know the relationship of this woman.


The Pyramid of Ankhesenpepi II


Very recently, the pyramid of Ankhesenpepi II was discovered just south of the pyramid of Ankhesenpepi III. This must have been the same as Ankhnesmerire II, the younger sister of Ankhnesmerire I and the mother of the King, Pepi II. He was probably a regent for her young son when he took the throne, and in Wadi Maghara in the Sinai we believe a scene depicts this queen wearing the Uraeus, a bit of evidence that supports the conclusion.



A fragment of the pyramid text from the pyramid of Ankhesenpepi II

A fragment of the pyramid text from the pyramid of Ankhesenpepi II



In addition, we find in her burial chamber the pyramid text. It is engraved in relief and painted green. While Pepi I's pyramid contains such text, there is no indication that any of the other subsidiary pyramids did so with the exception of this one. In fact, she is the first of any woman we know of that was accorded this privilege. In addition, there was also found an enormous, carefully crafted basalt sarcophagus with the queen's name and titles inscribed upon its lid and on the partially exposed east and north sides.


Obviously, there are many more mysteries around the pyramid of Pepi I that need to be worked out Perhaps someday, the riddles of his rule will unravel from the efforts of the French team now excavating the area.


See Also:









Reference Number

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian


Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2

Pyramids, The

Verner, Miroslav


Grove Press

ISBN 0-8021-1703-1