Mortuary Temple

The Northern temple is located to the North of the Step Pyramid, to the West of the Serdab and the House of the North. It is attached to the lowest step of the Step Pyramid, hiding the entrance to the Pyramid's substructures.
It is one of the few buildings in Netjerikhet's complex that is not a dummy building, in that it actually had rooms and chambers. It appears to have been moved to the North as the Pyramid was enlarged to a six-stepped pyramid with a larger surface. It may originally have been located in the area where the first access corridor reached ground level.

Its structure and its position vis-à-vis its tomb are similar to that of a mudbrick temple of an archaic mastaba at Saqqara, dated to the reign of Qa'a, the last king of the 1st Dynasty.
The northern location of the temple is notable, as in most other, more recent cases a temple or offering chamber was located to the East of the tomb. At this early stage of pyramid building, the funerary cult was still focussed on the northern stars, among which the deceased king was believed to take his place.

The temple was entered through a doorway in its Eastern wall. The doorway is indicated by a stone imitation of an open wooden door, a feature that can be found in many other places throughout the complex.

A long corridor led from the entrance to two open courts, one in the East and one next to it, in the West. From the Western court the second access staircase ran down towards the Pyramid's substructure. Three gangways in the South wall of each court gave access to a wide gallery, running from East to West. Short walls, supporting two columns, separated the gangways from each other. These columns, like the others in this complex, did not have a supporting function and are probably a rendering in stone of the columns used to support the roofs in wooden and mudbrick buildings.

The scanty remains of the Mortuary Temple.

View on the scanty remains of the Mortuary Temple.

To the West of the two open courts, two more chambers can be discerned. Each chamber had a stone basin in its floor.

Although little more can be recognised in this badly damaged temple, it should be noticed that many of the rooms have been built in pairs. This may mean that the temple was designed for a ritual that needed to be performed twice, perhaps the first time by or for the King of Upper Egypt and the  second time by or for the King of Lower Egypt.


© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017