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Saqqara: Pyramids of Djoser and Unas (1858 photo)

(left:) Pyramid of Unas, a 5th Dyn. ruler; (rt:): the earlier Step Pyramid of Djoser, 3rd Dyn. (photo: Frith 1858).

The 3rd Dynasty ruler Djoser (2670 BC) was buried in a step pyramid comprised of six overlaid mastaba tombs built of stone. Later pyramids, such as that of Unas (2350 BC), were constructed with rubble and mudbrick cores. As Frith's early photo shows, the pyramid of Unas has not preserved as well as Djoser's step pyramid, even through it was restored in the New Kingdom.

The 5th Dynasty ruler Unas was the first to have ritual writings inscribed on the inner chamber walls, known as Pyramid Texts. In the New Kingdom, Khaemweset, son of Ramesses II,  restored the Pyramid of Unas and enlarged the Serapeum,  burial site of mummified Apis bulls and eventually of Khaemweset himself  in 1224 BC. These were rediscovered in 1851 by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.


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