Egypt at its Origins 3. Proceedings of the International Conference “Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt”, London (UK), 5th-8th July 2008
“Origin of the State. Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt” edition:3 location:London date:5-8 July 2008
Saqqara is perhaps best known for the imposing funerary complex of King Netjerikhet/Djoser, first king of the Third Dynasty. The first use of Saqqara as a royal necropolis, however, should be situated about 200 years earlier, at the beginning of the Second Dynasty. After having buried his predecessor in the ancestral necropolis at Umm el-Qa‘ab/Abydos, King Hetepsekhemwy, the first ruler of the Second Dynasty, relocated the royal cemetery to a site overlooking the capital. Two large underground gallery tombs located to the south of the Step Pyramid could be attributed to the first and third king of the Second Dynasty: Hetepsekhemwy and Ninetjer, respectively. In 1991 and again in 2002, parts of similar tombs were found below the New Kingdom necropolis to the south of the Unas causeway. These structures were interpreted as the remains of another royal tomb of the same period, perhaps belonging to one of Ninetjer’s successors. Recent work carried out by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo has shown, however, that the tombs date to the end of the Second Dynasty and do not belong to kings. This new information changes our knowledge of the distribution of elite burial places at the end of the Early Dynastic period. In addition, it appears that Netjerikhet did not choose a pristine spot for his funerary complex, but an area that already was of great prominence to his immediate predecessors.