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Memphis -

The first king of Egypt, Menes (possibly to be identified with Narmer), is said to have founded the city the Memphis sometime around 3150BC. Most buildings in Memphis date to the New Kingdom (there are very few standing remains from the city of Memphis itself), the lack of early finds from Memphis may be due to the movement of the Nile itself - over the centuries the river moved slowly more eastwards and as it did so the city also spread in an easterly direction. Tradtion also states that Menes also surrounded his new city of Memphis with a white wall (thought to have been a white-washed mud-brick structure) - in later times Memphis is referred to in inscriptions as 'White Wall' or 'The Walls'.

The name 'Memphis' is a Greek word but is thought to have come from the ancient Egyptian 'Mennefer' - which itself was the name of the pyramid complex of Pepi I (6th Dynasty).

Saqqara -

This is the name of the vast cemetary of ancient Egypt - the people of ancient Memphis were buried here from the Archaic Period all the way through to the Late Period of ancient Egyptian history (the majority of burials found date to the Archaic and Old Kingdom, although Memphis itself was highly important in the New Kingdom (18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties), which would indicate that there should be plenty of burials at Saqqara also dating to this period (this is now proving to be the case with the recent discoveries of Horemheb's Saqqara tomb - built before he became pharaoh - the tomb of Maya, chancellor of Tutankhamun, and in January 2001 the tomb of Meryneith, High priest during the time of Akhenaten.

 1 - pyramid complex of Sekhemkhet

  2 - Serapeum (Apis burials)

 3 - Pyramid of Unas

 4 - Pyramid complex of Djoser

  5 - Temples of Sacred animals

 6 - New Kingdom necropolis

 7 - Tomb of Horemheb

 8 - Pyramid of Userkaf

  9 - Valley temple of Unas

 10 - Pyramid of Teti

 11 - Temples of Sacred Animals

 12 - New Kingdom necropolis

(white squares = Archaic mastaba tombs, orange squares = Old Kingdom Mastaba tombs).

Burials at Saqqara:

There had been burials at Saqqara for generations before the 3rd Dynasty, but it was with the burial of Djoser that the necropolis of Saqqara was to become much more popular. Djoser's funerary complex was to completely command the saqqara skyline with the construction of the first pyramid in Egypt's history (not a smooth-sided pyramid of later pharaohs, but a six stepped construction). Following Djoser's pyramid, three other funerary complexes were built or laid out at Saqqara (the most complete being the complex of Sekhemkhet).

During the Middle Kingdom, the burials of the pharaohs of Egypt moved away from Saqqara to the Faiyum - similarly the nobles and court officials of the period also chose to move their tombs away from Saqqara to be buried close to their kings. However, there are some burials dating to the Middle Kingdom at Saqqara although they are only isolated burials normally connected with a cult of Old Kingdom rulers.

In the New Kingdom burials were to return to Saqqara, although the pharaohs would be buried in the Valley of the Kings. Burials dating to the New Kingdom so far have only been found from the second half of the dynasty - there have been no officials found before the time of Amenhotep III (it is thought that tombs dating to the first half of the dynasty must exist at Saqqara but have yet to be located). Many tombs of nobles have been found at Thebes, collectively known as the 'Tombs of the Nobles' but the officials found here were concerned with the administration of Upper Egypt and Nubia as well as the cult of Amun.

Burials from later periods have also been found at Saqqara, these are normally intrusive burials - mummies were piled into existing tombs (for example a New Kingdom tomb might have many mummies dating to the Late Period).

The Step-pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara (the grey area at the bottom-left of the pyramid indicates the original mastaba tomb which was altered to become the pyramid)