Ancient Saqqara and Memphis

Giza Governorate, Egypt

Saturday trips with American University’s Arabic Language Institute resumed with the new semester, and today we toured the ancient sites at Saqqara and Memphis.  These sites became important around 3200 BC when the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united under one pharaoh, who made his capital at Memphis. Saqqara, named for Sukaris, God of the Underworld, was the necropolis or funerary complex associated with Memphis, and the site of the earliest pyramids. Up until that time, kings had been buried in mastabas, which later became associated with lesser figures in the pharaoh’s court. We began our tour at the mastaba of the courtier Titi.

From Ancient Saqqara and Memphis

You can’t take pictures inside tombs and pyramids in Egypt, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say that the reliefs inscribed all over the walls of Titi’s mastaba are amazing. Every imaginable aspect of daily life is represented, from hunting, farming, butchering and animal husbandry to craftsmen, boatbuilding and threshing.

From Ancient Saqqara and Memphis

Then we went inside the pyramid of King Titi, the first pyramid to have funerary inscriptions. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but it’s pretty neat down inside, even if it’s a little cramped down in there!

From Ancient Saqqara and Memphis

The Step Pyramid of Djoser, on the other hand, is impressive on the outside, though the inside has been closed for over 40 years, as it’s not stable. It’s under reconstruction at the moment, but still very cool. It started out as a mastaba, but then the pharoah decided to build another, smaller mastaba on top of it, and another on top of that, and another….

From Ancient Saqqara and Memphis

The pyramid’s actually part of a much larger funerary complex, much more intact than the far newer Pyramids at Giza. All the details, as usual, are on my Web Album.

From Ancient Saqqara and Memphis

Then we went to the statuary garden at Memphis. Throughout the pharaonic dynasties and into the Roman Era, Memphis remained a vital center of life along the Nile, and was a city of about 30km across. It was the capital of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, remained important after the capital moved to Luxor in the New Kingdom, and was where Alexander the Great went first, to be crowned emperor of Egypt. However, very little of it has been excavated, as the whole area is now covered with small farming villages vital to the economy and diet of Egypt.

From Ancient Saqqara and Memphis


  1. I now think of you almost every time I take a picture, whether a) because there are no people in it and I think how happy you'd be, or b) because there are people in it and I think how that would annoy you, or c) because there are people in it and I wish there weren't and know that you would, too! =D You may think I'm being facetious, but I really do think of you with almost every picture!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s