Biography of Unas


The relationship of Unas with his predecessors or successors is not known. He was married to Khenut and to Nebit, but their relationship to Unas' predecessors is not known either, nor are the names of any children that he would have had with them. It has sometimes been proposed, though, that Iput I, the wife of Unas’ successor Teti, was a daughter of Unas.
Both of Unas’ Queens were buried in mastaba tombs outside of Unas' pyramid complex, which, in itself is unusual since often in this period the Queens would be buried in smaller pyramids near their husband's.

According to the Turin King-list, Unas ruled for 30 years, or perhaps slightly more of part of the number is in the lacuna, which is confirmed by Manetho, who recorded 33 years. The highest recorded year from this reign, however, refers to the year of the 8th cattle count, which, in a regular biennial census, would be the 15th year of Unas’ reign.

Despite his supposed long reign, not much is known about Unas. His name has been found in Elephantine, at the Southern border of Egypt (Aswan), and also on an alabaster vessel found in Byblos, the latter perhaps indicating some commercial or diplomatic activities between Egypt and the Near East during this period. He seems not to have left any apparent heirs after his death, which may have resulted in some political instability following his death.

Unas is mostly known from his pyramid complex, which he built to the North-west of Djoser's at Saqqara. It is the oldest known royal tomb to have contained religious texts, the so-called Pyramid Texts, which are a collection of spells, litanies, hymns and descriptions of the King's life after death. These texts are the oldest known religious writings known to mankind!
Unas was adored in the Saqqara region for many centuries after his death.

Unas was the first king to have the walls of his tomb inscribed with the so-called Pyramid Texts.

Unas was the first king to have the walls of his tomb inscribed with the so-called Pyramid Texts.

© Jacques Kinnaer 1997 - 2017