3,300-Year-Old Tomb with Pyramid Entrance Discovered in Egypt


A tomb newly excavated at an ancient cemetery in Egypt would have boasted a pyramid 7 meters (23 feet) high at its entrance, archaeologists say.

The tomb, found at the site of Abydos, dates back around 3,300 years. Within one of its vaulted burial chambers, a team of archaeologists found a finely crafted sandstone sarcophagus, painted red, which was created for a scribe named Horemheb. The sarcophagus has images of several Egyptian gods on it and hieroglyphic inscriptions recording spells from the Book of the Dead that helped one enter the afterlife.

There is no mummy in the sarcophagus, and the tomb was ransacked at least twice in antiquity. Human remains survived the ransacking, however. Archaeologists found disarticulated skeletal remains from three to four men, 10 to 12 women and at least two children in the tomb. Read more.


Saqqara is the most important cemetery that belongs to the ancient city of Memphis. The site is almost 6km long and up to 1,5km wide at the widest, however the neighboring cemeteries, especially Abusir, were in antiquity not seen as separate sites. This compartmentalizing of cemeteries is a very modern and western concept.

The history of the site runs back to the very first dynasty (2950-2775 BC) and continues all the way through history to the Greco-Roman period, in these 3 millennia there has been a lot of activity in the area.

Early dynastic Period (2950 – 2650 BC)

In the first dynasty there are no royal tombs at Saqqara but there are several objects with the name of Narmer on them. Narmer is the oldest royal name known from Egypt. The first mastaba ( Arabic for bench) is from the reign of king Aha, known as the founder of the legendary city of Memphis. Mastaba’s from the first dynasty are all located along the eastern line of the desert, just north of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, they belong to high officials and members of the royal family. These mastaba’s were fairly large, some even measuring up to 57 by 26 m. The chambers for funerary equipment were in the mastaba superstructure and the burial chambers and additional rooms were cut into the rock below the mastaba. Most of the early excavations were done by W.B. Emery between 1936 and 1956. The non-royal mastaba’s of the 2nd dynasty were build in the area west of the 1st dynasty mastaba’s without a clear order, these mastaba’s were considerably smaller than their 1st dynasty counterparts.

The first royal mastaba’s in Saqqara were found underneath the pyramid of Wenis, not much has survived but there are some clay inscriptions that suggest the tombs of king Reneb and Ninetjer were located here.

Old and Middle Kingdom (2650 – 1630 BC)

In this period Saqqara was a popular place to build the Pharaoh’s pyramid and no less than 14 pyramids are known from Saqqara, amazingly enough more pyramids are very likely to still be undiscovered.

The first is the Step Pyramid of Djoser (2650 BC), the first Egyptian Pyramid and the biggest structure in the world of its time. The pyramid was initially supposed to be a mastaba but the plans changed and the Egyptian ended up inventing the first stage of the pyramid. The design of the pyramid is attributed to the architect Imhotep. Around the Step Pyramid is a complex of buildings, most were meant for the celebration of the Kings’ sed-festival, a festival that celebrated a new phase in the kings reign. The second pyramid was found under the sand in 1950 and was left unfinished, it was initially build for king Sekhemkhet but the burial chamber was found empty. The third pyramid was build for the last king of the 4th dynasty and the fourth for Userkaf, the first king of the 5th dynasty. The fifth pyramid belongs to the largely unknown king Izezi but the sixth pyramid is very well known. This pyramid belongs to king Wenis, last king of the fifth dynasty and the walls of his pyramid are covered with Pyramid Texts on the inside. These texts are spells to help the deceased king in the afterlife, these spells are found in all later pyramids of the Old Kingdom. The seventh pyramid belongs to Teti, the first king of the 6th dynasty, and stands as the most northern pyramid in Saqqara. Pyramids 8 (of Pepy I), 9 (of Merenre) and 10 (of Pepy II) are all in the south of Saqqara. These pyramids belongs to pharaoh’s of the 6th dynasty. The eleventh pyramid was build for a mostly unknown king named Ibi of the 8th dynasty and this pyramid therefore belongs to the First Intermediate Period. In this period Egypt has no central government and power was held by local lords. The same is true for pyramid 12, which belongs to a king names Merykare, and was build in the 9th/10th dynasty, or the Herakleopolitan Period. The last two pyramids were build in the Middle Kingdom, the 13th dynasty, and were build with sun dried bricks.

Nonroyal tombs are plentiful in Saqqara because the elite wanted to be buried close to the royal tombs. From the 4th dynasty onwards pyramids began to be surrounded by nonroyal tombs, especially Djosers’, Wenis’ and Userkaf’ pyramids were popular to be buried around. Nonroyal tombs of the 6th dynasty and First Intermediate Period are in the vicinity of Teti’s pyramid and around pyramids in the south of Saqqara. Tombs from the Middle Kingdom are mostly around the pyramid of Teti, Wenis and in the south of Saqqara.

The New Kingdom

The most beautiful tomb from the New Kingdom in Saqqara is the tomb of Aperia, a vizier from the reign of king Amenhotep III (1390 – 1353 BC). South of the pyramid of Wenis is a large area of freestanding chapels. These chapels can be divided into two groups, a group that belongs to the Ramesside Period and a group in the area of the tomb of Horemheb. At the end of the 18th dynasty Saqqara was also very active and there are some very beautiful early post-Amarna reliefs  in some tombs. The finest tombs date between the reigns of Tutanchamon and Ramses II. The most impressive find in the area was done by the Anglo-Dutch expedition of the Egypt Exploration Society and the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, they found the private tomb of the Great Commander of the Army, Horemheb. Horemheb was the military force behind the throne in the aftermath of the Amarna Period. He was general in the army during the reigns of Tutanchamon and Aye, after this he himself became pharaoh and abandoned this tomb for a tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

Other important tombs in Saqqara is that of Maya (and his wife Merit), who served as treasury official during the reign of Tutanchamon. Another beautiful tomb is that of Tia, who lived during the reign of Ramses II (better known as Ramses the Great).


The cult of the Apis bull required the sacred bull, in which the Memphite god Ptah could be present, to be mummified and buried in Saqqara at the Serapeum. This was done from the reign of Amenhotep III onwards, well into the Greco-Roman Period.  Because there was only one sacred bull at a time, an Apis bull burial occurred only once every 12 to 15 years. Ramses II created a long underground gallery in which the bulls could be placed, called the ‘Lesser Vaults’, which reached a length of 68m long. A second gallery was added in the 26th dynasty (called the ‘Greater Vaults’) by Psammeticus I, and this gallery reached a length of 198 meter and was cut in a right angle with the other gallery. The ‘Greater Vaults’ was used into the Greco-Roman Period. Saqqara is a well-known sacred animal necropolis because not just sacred bulls were buried here, also mummified cows, falcons, ibises and baboons were found in the vicinity of the Serapeum.

The Late Period and Greco-Roman Period

All most all of the tombs from these two periods are near the Step Pyramid of Djoser. To the north of the pyramid is the Serapeum and tombs of the 30th dynasty and later. To the south, and close to the pyramid of Wenis), is mostly 26th and 27th dynasty tombs, the east are mostly 26th dynasty tombs and lastly in the west are mostly Greco-Roman tombs. 


1. Step Pyramid of Djoser

2. Map of Saqqara

3. Inscription of Horemheb receiving a necklace of honour

4. Detail of inscription in tomb of Horemheb 

5. Relief from tomb of Horemheb 


One of my favorite pieces from Egypt. Any place.  Any time.  I will never forget the moment I walked into the Luxor museum, headed into a tiny enclave, to have this magnificent piece of work greet me on the left.  Pharaoh Horemheb is kneeling before the creator god Atum to make an offering.  Horemheb was the last pharaoh of the 18th dynasty who took the throne from the ruling line.  Atum well… there’s a lot of reason I have feelings about Atum.  And his seat is decorated with images of Hapi, a… as far as I understand hermaphroditic Nile god.  The image is symbolic of the unification of upper and lower Egypt.  

I was just so in awe in the presence of this piece.  There was another statue of Amun in the same enclave.  In fact the Luxor museum, while small, is just overflowing with incredible examples of fine art and artifacts and I would definitely say it should not be missed but this one really struck me.  I must have sat there for 20 minutes examining it.  Well made, well preserved, really unique.  It’s ever so slightly larger than life.  The pharaoh is perfectly reverent and Atum is downright majestic. I could probably go on forever but I’ll just leave it at that….

Relief from tomb of Horemheb 

Horemheb was one of the most powerful men during the reign of Tutankhamun. He was named ‘deputy of the King’, as general of the army. Before he became Pharaoh in 1320 BC he had began his private tomb but left this when he was allowed a tomb in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb in Saqqara was found in the 19th century but then forgotten again, only to be rediscovered in 1975. 

In the scene shown Horemheb is being honoured with golden necklaces, he is standing in the presence of the King and Queen. The ureaus on his forehead has been added after he became Pharaoh. 

Found in Saqqara, Egypt 

New Kingdom, 18th/19th dynasty, 1330 BC. 

Source: Leiden Museum of Antiquities

Horemheb, the last pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (work in progress).

I’ve been reading Sinuhe the Egyptian again lately (it’s my favorite book); this is not the exact vision of him I have in my head, cause he was a soldier, and not a descendant of the royal bloodline, sooo I think I made him look too… noble ^^; woooo I could be a perfect ancient egyptian artist :D actually, if I could choose any era in history to live in, it would definitely be ancient Egypt.

PS. WHY it’s so freakin hard to find a good reference photo of a strong man with a proud expression? I’ve searched DA and google for like an hour and all I could find were skinny romantic hipster boys with dumb look on their faces, old wrinkled men and gay couples T___T 

Can’t think of a way to reply to one thread, squealing like a demented moron over another, and wanting to throw something at Horemheb in another.



Pyramidion's siblings.

These are Pyramidion’s younger siblings: 

  • Hwy(Mech. Third-in-command, VenomVein’s messenger and main guard.) 
  • Horemheb(Mech. Guard and master architect for underground temples.) 
  • Nakht(Femme. Guard and midwife.) 
  • Inyotef(Mech. Scribe.) 
  • Shawabti(Femme. Overseer of the Shabtis’ performance.) 
  • Menkaure II(Head craftsman, minor guard.)