- The Pyramid of Neferirkare -

  Abusir   Neferirkare    
  Pyramid of Neferirkare        


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Following his brother Sahure's example, Neferirkare built his funerary monument at Abusir, at some distance to the southwest of Sahure's. This made him the second king to use Abusir as a funerary site.

The funerary complex consists of a pyramid and a mortuary temple. The causeway and Valley Temple were left incomplete when Neferirkare died and were completed by his son, Niuserre.

There is no evidence of a Queen's Pyramid and although the smaller pyramid to the south of the main pyramid may originally have been intended as a satellite pyramid, was used for the burial of queen Khentkaus II, Neferirkare's wife.


Map of Neferirkare's funerary complex at Abusir.
Source: Lehner, Complete Pyramids, p. 145.

The Pyramid

Although Neferirkare was probably already advanced in years when he succeeded Sahure, he set out to build a pyramid that was larger than his brother's. Its base measured 105 metres square and had it been completed as a true pyramid, it would have risen to a height of about 72 metres.


Neferirkare's pyramid, seen across the mortuary temple of Khentkaus II.


For unknown reasons, Neferirkare planned his funerary monument as a Step Pyramid, rather than the true pyramid shape which was standard by his time. It rose in 6 steps of well-laid limestone.


View on the pyramid, clearly revealing the steps of the initial pyramid.


At some point, however, it was decided to convert this monument into a true pyramid, as suggested by filling material that was found on the south and west sides of this monument. The conversion into a true pyramid was never completed, with only the first courses of granite blocks having been laid.

The internal structure of this pyramid is slightly less simple than Sahure's. The entrance is located at its traditional place: along the north face of the pyramid. From there a passage descends down to to a first level, from where the passage continues horizontally towards an antechamber. The roof of the antechamber was gabbled with two heavy limestone beams. A door in the west wall leads to the burial chamber, of which the ceiling consisted of three heavy limestone beams.

The internal structure of this pyramid is heavily damaged. No trace of a sarcophagus has been found.

The mortuary temple

Neferirkare's mortuary temple appears to have been completed in haste. The inner temple was built in stone, but the court and entrance hall were finished in simple mudbrick, with wooden pillars shaped like bundles of lotus flowers.

Only the foundation of the causeway and Valley Temple, later completed by Niuserre, had been laid.

Graffiti found on a block of the pyramid of Khentkaus II suggest that work on the pyramid that she would eventually take, was paused in the 10th year of an unnamed king. It is not unlikely that this pyramid was originally intended as satellite pyramid of Neferirkare's complex and that it was left incomplete when the king passed away, only to be converted into a funerary monument for his queen at a later time.

A vast archive of texts, the Abusir Papyri, was found in this temple. It reveals a complex administration led from within this temple and occupied mainly with the flow of offerings towards the different temples of the Memphite necropolis.