Sunday, November 16, 2008


Abu Sir has been called the site of the forgotten kings of the 5th Dynasty. One can see only 3 pyramids from a distance; those of Sahure -- Nyuserre -- Neferirkare. Abusir is about half way between Giza and Saqqara. Located here is another large royal cemetery of the Old Kingdom composed of four pyramids belonging to kings of the 5th Dynasty and the surrounding tombs built by royal family and officials. Additionally the kings of the 5th Dynasty constructed Sun Temples on the desert to the northwest of the pyramids. The existence of these Sun Temples as well as of the royal pyramids is the most characteristic feature of this area...

Fifth Dynasty Necropolis and Sun Temples at Abu Ghurab

The site of Abu Ghurab is actually part of the site of Abusir. It is about 1 kilometre northeast of the Pyramid of Sahure. Remains of only two sun temples have been found; those of Userkaf (circa 2500-2485 BC) and Nyuserre (circa 2455-2425 BC). These solar temples were probably modeled on the much earlier original sun temple at Heliopolis ...


Old Kingdom documents mention six sun temples dating to each of the six kings of the Fifth Dynasty. The oldest of the temples is Userkaf’s sun temple at Abu Sir. The only other one to be discovered and excavated is the sun temple built by Nyuserre, the fifth king of the dynasty (ruled 2455–2425 B.C.E.). Userkaf’s sun temple represents the first known effort of an Egyptian king to build a temple other than his own funerary monument. Userkaf built his sun temple in Abu Sir, a site that would later be utilized for pyramid complexes and sun temples by other Fifth-dynasty kings. Userkaf’s sun temple also represents the first clear example of a temple built and then rebuilt by subsequent kings, a common theme in the later architectural history of Egypt. Both Neferirkare, the third king of the dynasty, and Nyuserre added to the temple. The name of this temple, Nekhen Re (The Stronghold of Re), associates it with early temple enclosures at the town called Nekhen (Stronghold) in Middle Egypt. The excavator, Herbert Ricke, believed that the first building stage of the temple contained the same key elements as the earlier Stronghold: a rectangular enclosure and a central mound of sand. Neferirkare added an obelisk with altars in front of it in the second building phase. Thus this sun temple contained the first-known example of this typically Egyptian form. Phases three and four, built by Nyuserre, included five benches. Ricke thought the benches were platforms where priests placed offerings to the god. He discovered a stele inside one of the benches inscribed with the name of the “Great Phyle,” one of the five groups of priests and workers responsible for work at the temple on a rotating basis. It is possible that the five benches represented each of these five groups, though archaeologists found no other steles. A causeway linked the sun temple with a valley temple. Nyuserre may have constructed the valley temple during the fourth phase of building, or he may have rebuilt an original building of Userkaf’s complex.


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