Investigating a new Dynasty 2 necropolis at South Saqqara

Ilona Regulski

Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt

Saqqara is perhaps best known for the imposing funerary complex of King Netjerikhet/Djoser, first king of Dynasty 3. The first use of Saqqara as a royal necropolis, however, should be situated about 200 years earlier, at the beginning of Dynasty 2. After burying his predecessor in the ancestral necropolis at Umm el-Qa‘ab/Abydos, King Hetepsekhemwy, the first ruler of Dynasty 2, relocated the royal cemetery to a site overlooking the capital at Memphis. Two large underground gallery tombs located to the south of the Step Pyramid have been attributed to the first and third kings of Dynasty 2: Hetepsekhemwy and Ninetjer, respectively. In 1991 and again in 2002, parts of similar tombs were found below the New Kingdom necropolis to the south of the Unas causeway. These structures were interpreted as the remains of another royal tomb of the same period, perhaps belonging to one of Ninetjer’s successors. Recent work carried out by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo has shown, however, that the tombs date to the end of Dynasty 2 and do not belong to kings. This new information changes our understanding of the distribution of elite burial places at the end of the Early Dynastic period. In addition, it appears that Netjerikhet did not choose a pristine spot for his funerary complex, but an area that was already of great significance to his immediate predecessors.

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To reference this article we suggest:

Regulski, I. 2009. Investigating a new Dynasty 2 necropolis at South Saqqara. BMSAES 13: 221–37. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/online_journals/bmsaes/issue_13/Regulski2009.aspx

Contact the author

ilona.regulski@nvic.net.eg