The Pyramid of Pepi II
at South Saqqara
Pepi II's pyramid in South Saqqara was the last to be built in the best traditions of the Old Kingdom. It was named "Pepi's life is enduring", which indeed it was. He reign we believe lasted 94 years, longer then any other Ancient Egyptian pharaoh. The pyramid is located on the the southern edge of the necropolis, about three miles south Djoser's Step Pyramid, which probably made it a source of inspiration for Middle Kingdom pyramid builders.
The pharaoh's birth name was Pepi, (also Pepy, Phiops or Fiops) as was his father's. His throne name was Neferkare, which means "Beautiful is the Soul of Re" His mother was Ankhnesmerire II .
Once again, Perring first investigated the pyramid, followed by Maspero who entered it in 1881. However, not until 1926 was a systematic investigation initiated by Jequier, who continued his work until 1932.
Scene from Pepi II's valley temple
The valley temple of Pepi II is very different then those of some earlier kings. It was a wide structure, with an angular terrace open on its east side and oriented northwest-southeast along a now non-existent canal. There were ramps and entrances at either end of the wide temple, and an entrance in the middle inline with the causeway. Within the valley temple, the front portion was a hall supported by eight pillars. Fragments of the decorative theme have survived, and show the king being received by gods, a victory against Egypt's enemies, and a hunt in a papyrus thicket. A vestibule behind this pillared hall had a stairway leading to the valley temple's roof terrace. In this room were also the entrances into the side storage annexes of the valley temple, along with the entrance to the ascending causeway. The vestibule has a few fragmentary decorations, including a scenes of hippopotamus being hunted, and the transportation of a hippopotamus on a wooden sled.
The southeastern corner is the best preserved part of the pyramid. The pyramid you see in the distance is Zoser's.
Layout of Pepi II's valley temple, pyramid and his queens' pyramids
The entrance corridor lead, as usual, to an open, pillared, courtyard that was paved in limestone. The walls of the courtyard appear to be undecorated. There were eighteen pillars of reddish quartzite. One of these, on the northwest corner, survives. It is adorned with a scene of Pepi II and Re-Harakhty exchanging embraces. The other pillars also featured the king with a god. To either side of this outer section of the mortuary complex are storage annexes.
A sacrificial table, made from alabaster.
However, before arriving in the offering hall there was a small vestibule and square, single pillared antechamber. In this vestibule we find more scenes of the king suppressing disorder, slaying enemies and hunting wild animals. Above the entrance to the offering hall in the antechamber is a scene of the king embracing the goddess Nekhbet and Anubis as a jackal. There is also depicted as many as 100 deities and 45 officials receiving the king.
A doorway at the south end of the dividing transverse corridor opened into the pyramid courtyard, where the cult pyramid was located. It was about 15.75 meters (52 feet) square. It has a t-shaped passage and a small chamber, all of which was left rough. A door on the other end of the corridor lead to the main pyramid courtyard, where three depressions (basins) probably were meant to collect libation water.
Pepi II's pyramid is built much like those of his predecessors, using small pieces of limestone secured with a clay mortar for the core and fine white limestone for the casing. The core consisted of five steps. What we do not understand is why the pyramid itself was enlarged. It turns out that after the casing was laid and the north chapel built, a band of brick about seven meters wide was added around the pyramid at the level of the third layer of core blocks. In order to complete this work, the north chapel and enclosure wall were both torn down, though the wall was built back a little farther from the pyramid. This mudbrick work did not rise above the height of the perimeter wall. Edwards suggested that this addition might have been to strengthen the pyramid after it was damaged by an earthquake, but the mudbrick was really not strong enough to be used for this purpose. It may have been added in order to strengthen the lower levels of casing. Others have suggested that the builders wished the pyramid to resemble the Hieroglyph for "pyramid", with a band across the base, or even that it may have symbolized one of his Sed festivals.
Subteranian chambers of Pepi II's pyramid
There is nothing particularly unusual about the subterranean section of the pyramid. The initial corridor descends into a vestibule, at which point everything becomes level. In this area of the pyramid were found alabaster and diorite vessel fragments along with the golden blade of a small, rounded knife which may have been used in the ritual pyramid closing. The vestibule opens up into a second corridor where soon the barrier would have been encountered. The barrier was made up of three huge, portcullis slabs of granite. After the barrier, the corridor continues until it leads into the antechamber. From here, the plan takes a 90 degree right turn into the burial chamber.
The perfection of the Giza pyramids is since long forgotten. The pyramid of Pepi 2 is made from uneven stone, in average about the size of tile bricks.
Small queen pyramid to the north of Pepi's. Although collapsed, it still is noted for the fine remains of casing.
To the north, northwest and south of Pepi II's complex were fouind the pyramids of at least three of his queens. The pyramids belonged to Neith, the daughter of Pepi I, Ipwet (Iput II), the daughter of his brother Merenre, and another wife named Udjebten (Wedjebten).
Slope: 53o 13'
Base of Cult Pyramid: 15.75m
Slope of Cult Pyramid: 63o
Length of Causeway: 400m