Pyramid of Userkaf

Another of the pyramids found in Saqqara is the Pyramid of Userkaf, built between 2494–2487 BC under the rule of Userkaf, a pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty. Far from poetic, the local name of the pyramid, El-Haram el-Maharbish, translates directly as Heap of Stone. Userkaf does actually have a core of rubble, and the remaining materials were dressed stone. Today, the Pyramid of Userkaf is in ruin, and it looks more like a conical hill made of sand than a true pyramid.

Pyramid of Userkaf

The Pyramid of Userkaf was a structure that differed from the Fourth Dynasty pyramids, and in many ways it inspired the later Fifth Dynasty pyramids. Userkaf did retain the traditional high wall around the complex and the causeway linking one tomb to the main pyramid. However, it also introduced new ideas like a north-south axis orientation and the inclusion of a small chapel outside, rather than inside, the pyramid.

More than 1,5000 years after construction, the Pyramid of Userkaf was restored and used by Rameses II as a cemetery. In more modern history, the entrance to the pyramid was discovered in 1831, but no one actually entered the pyramid until 1839, when a tunnel was discovered that was likely dug by tomb robbers and afforded easy access to the interior.