About Egyptian Pyramids

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Alan Winston


>> Pyramid Index / South Saqqara


A view of The Pyramid of  Merenre at South Saqqara in Egypt


Today, the pyramid of Merenre, located in South Saqqara, is barely noticeable next to other nearby monuments. It lies relatively deep in the desert, right at the southwest edge of the necropolis. It is mostly in ruins, though it was once called "Merenre's beauty shines".


The pyramid has not been investigated extensively. Perring examined it in the 1830s and noted fine white limestone casing blocks within the rubble, which are today no longer in sight. Later in the 1880s, Maspero entered the subterranean chambers of the pyramid looking for pyramid text, and today it is being investigated by a French team under the direction of Leclant. However, much of what we know of the pyramid comes from biographies of high officials such as Uni (Wini?), who provided valuable information on the origin of the materials used to build the pyramid. We know that there was pink granite from Aswan, alabaster from Hatnub, and dark greywacke from Ibhat, which was used to build the pyramidion and sarcophagus.


The plan of the pyramid is much in question, and little is known about most of the complex. We know nothing of his valley temple, though there must have been one because Perring tells us of a causeway about two hundred fifty meters long. It went around the pyramid of Djedkare's. He also noted a perimeter wall made of mudbrick.



Plan of The Pyramid of  Merenre at South Saqqara in Egypt


Also, not much is know of the pyramid's mortuary temple. However, Maspero made a simple ground plan of the interior of the pyramid, which was not essentially different than that of Pepi I's pyramid. In fact, it is possible that the pyramid text in Merenre's pyramid were placed in the same positions as the text in Pepi I's pyramid.


The pyramid is entered from the north side which leads into a descending corridor. The corridor leads first to a vestibule, and then continues along a second corridor that was probably level or became level. Within this corridor is a barrier made up of three huge granite blocks. This corridor lead to an antechamber. An entrance in this chamber's right wall leads to the burial chamber, while to the left is another small room {Serdab).


In the burial chamber, a sarcophagus stood on the wet wall and was decorated with beautiful polychrome reliefs with the royal palace facade motif. The ceiling had an astronomical theme with white stars oriented westward on a black background.The only other burial equipment noted were two alabaster shells and a small wooden knob or handle for a chest.


Mummy of a child found in  The Pyramid of Merenre at South Saqqara in Egypt


Maspero found the mummy of really a child within the pyramid. His hair was combed into a side curl like those children wore in ancient Egypt. Because of the mummy's wrappings, scholars at first decided that this was a latter burial, perhaps of the 18th Dynasty. Merenre was a king of the 6th Dynasty. However, today Egyptologists are rethinking this decision, deciding that it might be the mummy of Merenre after all. Perhaps one reason Egyptologists initially believed it was not the mummy of Merenre may have been because it would have been the oldest known purposely mummified body. Recently other mummified bodies have been found dating to the predynastic period. Regardless, if it is indeed the mummy of Merenre, it is the oldest known royal mummy.


Plan of the substructure  of The Pyramid of Merenre at South Saqqara in Egypt

Plan of the substructure of The Pyramid of Merenre at South Saqqara in Egypt



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



Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011