Ancient Egypt / Religion / Structures / Pyramids /
Other spelling: Abusir
Abu Sir was employed only by 5th Dynasty kings in the 25th century BCE. From the beginning of the construction of the first pyramid until the abandoment of the last, only 70 years passed. Towards the end of the 5th Dynasty, South Saqqara would become the preferred burial ground for kings. Still, for more than 2000 years, Abu Sir remained a prestigous burial ground, many notables were buried here in richly equipped graves. Early on, mastabas were built here but during the Late Period this would change into shaft tombs.
The decision to establish a new burial ground may be a reflection of the kings being unable to force through pyramids of a scale similar to Giza's or Dahshur's. In order not to have their pyramids dwarfed a new fresh ground may have been chosen. The height of the pyramids here would be between 47 and 72 metre, compared to Khufu's at 146.5 metre.
The first important structure at Abu Sir was Userkaf's sun temple, but whether this motivated the subsequent pyramid building is difficult to assess, as the first pyramid was set 500 metres from the sun temple.
The pyramids at Abu Sir used simpler and cheaper techniques for their structures, causing them today to remain in a fairly poor shape compared to 4th Dynasty pyramids. Moreover, they were not entirely true pyramids, building cores as step pyramids, then filling the steps with loose masonry and covered with decorative stones.
There were built at least 7 pyramids built or begun at the site. The most important were by Neferirkare at 72 metre, Nyuserre at 51 metre and Sahure at 47 metre. Raneferef never finished his, it remains as mound 4 metre high.
More attention, however, was given to the mortuary complexes, which had finer and more elaborate wall reliefs than earlier similar structures.
Abu Sir is the site of the largest finds of Old Kingdom papyri.
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