Unas Pyramid

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Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara

Unas pyramid

Excursion to Saqqara to visit a newly opened Unas Pyramid, its causeway and the area around.

The pyramid of Unas is of modest size and was already in ruins in 2000 BC when Ramses II had it restored on the site. Its original height was 43 m, 57.5 x 57.5 m at the base, belongs to 5th dynasty and dates back to 2385-2355 BC.

Unas was the last king of the fifth Dynasty and built his pyramid near south-west corner of the Step Pyramid of Zoser, some of the blocks used in its construction were taken from Zoser’s complex. Khaemwas had restored the pyramid by order of his father Ramses II, and reapplied the name Unas. When the pyramid was 1st time discovered by Maspero in 1881 the burial chamber was found to contain a sarcophagus and the remains of a mummy were found inside.

The pyramid of Unas is famous for its vertical columns of hieroglyphic inscriptions known as the Pyramid texts, since it was the 1st pyramid in Egypt to have this text. The texts are the earliest and the least corrupted of the mortuary literature of ancient Egypt. These texts contain some 712 utterances. The texts consist of a collection of magical spells assembled in no fixed order. The purpose of these texts was to assure the king a happy afterlife.

The entrance to the pyramid is in the center of its northern façade. The inner chambers of the pyramid are perfectly intact. The burial chamber has a long basalt sarcophagus and the ceiling of this chamber consists of 2 huge inclined limestone slabs decorated with a multitude of stars symbolizing the vault of heaven.

Pyramid of Unas retains a pyramid causeway that is one of the best-preserved in Egypt. The Pyramid is the last of the 5th Dynasty royal pyramids. Despite its small size, it is considered one of the most important Egyptian pyramids because it is the first pyramid to register the “Pyramids Texts” which have religious and funerary importance for resurrecting the dead.

The famous French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero was the first to enter the pyramid in 1881 but in 1996 the pyramid was closed due to humidity reasons that negatively influenced its burial chamber. And at last in 2016 the pyramid was once again opened to public.

The pyramid is among the funerary complex which combines the valley temple underneath the hill and a causeway that ends with the mortuary temple. The causeway was once decorated with scenes of religious and everyday life scenes. The entrance chapel of the pyramid lies in the north and it leads to a corridor chamber that connects the descending passage coming from the entrance with a straight passage leading to the antechamber. The corridor ends with 3 portcullises that were meant to block the access to the antechamber leading from the entrance passage in the north to the magazines in the east and the burial chamber in the west where the oldest pyramids text exist.

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