Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston


Pyramid Index / South Saqqara


Near the northeast corner of the Djedkare complex enclosure wall at South Saqqara is another, smaller pyramid complex without a causeway or valley temple. It consists of only the pyramid, a mortuary temple and its own enclosure wall. Because it is structurally incorporated into Djedkare's complex, even though it does not conform to the typical plans of other contemporary queens' pyramids, it likely belongs to one of his royal consorts. If it is, then it is probably not that of Meresankh IV, who some suggest was one of his consorts, because she has a tomb at Saqqara. Whoever owned this pyramid is not attested to within the pyramid that we know of, nor attested to in the pyramid of Djedkare.


Perring and Lepsius both briefly investigated and described this structure, but not until 1952 was a thorough archaeological examination begun by Fakhry. However, most of what we know from the pyramid came from the work of Maragioglio and Rinaldi who worked at the site during the 1960s.


The Pyramid of the Unknown Queen
The Pyramid of the Unknown Queen


The mortuary temple of this pyramid is innovative, if for no other reason then it fits in the standard components within the space available and its integration with Djedkare's pyramid. The temple, which does not lie on the pyramid's axis, was entered from the west, where an entrance corridor first leads to a five columned hall. Here, the five columns made of fine white limestone are shaped like six papyrus stems and aligned in a single row. This room leads to an open columned courtyard.


There are sixteen columns in the courtyard that are each also shaped like six papyrus stems. These find white limestone columns skirt the inside walls of the courtyard, which is oriented north-south. The walls of the courtyard were originally all decorated. To the north of the courtyard are storage annexes.


Putting it all together. The complex of Djedkare and the Unknown Queen

Putting it all together. The complex of Djedkare and the Unknown Queen


As most often is the case, there is a transverse corridor that divides the outer part of the mortuary temple from the inner section. The outer section of most pyramid related mortuary temples consisted of the entrance corridor and courtyard, while the inner part mostly consisted of the chapel and offering hall.



Though the design of this temple in unclear at this point, we believe the offering hall was located in the middle, with three niches to its north. There may not have been a complete chapel. However, the pyramid does include its own small cult pyramid that stood at the southeast corner of the main pyramid.


This pyramid was fairly small, actually not much larger than some of the cult pyramids of other complexes. It consisted of three steps and the construction methods were similar to that of Djedkare's pyramid. Today, there is actually a small crater in the middle of it, with a deeper ditch through that.


Whoever the pyramid belonged to, improvements and reworking of some of the reliefs seems to indicate that the owner may have even ruled, at least as regent, for a short time, presumable before her possible son, Unas, took the throne. What is clear is that she was a woman of high social standing among queens who's roles were growing stronger.



  • Height: 21m

  • Base: 41m

  • Slope 62o

  • Base of Cult pyramid: 4m


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