Pyramid Complex of Teti

Pyramid Complex of Teti

Teti (c.2345–2323 BC), the first ruler of the Sixth Dynasty, built his pyramidal complex not far from the Step Pyramid of Djoser (c.2667–2648 BC), in Saqqara. Upon completion, it stood 52.5 m tall. Although it was originally encased in blocks of fine limestone, its core consists of small blocks of local limestone and debris fill. This meant that, when the casing blocks were removed in antiquity, the core, unable to sustain its shape, began to droop. The pyramid appears little different from a natural hill today as a result. Its substructure, however, is intact.

          A descending passageway turns into a horizontal corridor, which leads to an antechamber. Three magazines for burial equipment lie on the left, but since the pyramid was robbed in antiquity, these were found empty. On the right, west, side is the burial chamber. Its ceiling is decorated with gold stars against a dark blue background, reflecting the ancient Egyptian notion of the tomb as a microcosm of the universe. The end of the corridor, and the entirety of the antechamber and burial chamber are beautifully decorated with Pyramid Texts. These are a collection of rituals and recitations that were designed to ensure the king’s successful journey to the afterlife. The originally intended decorative programme was never completed, however, indicating the king’s untimely death. The third century BC ancient Egyptian priest and historian Manetho recorded that Teti was killed by his bodyguards, but there is little evidence to support this.

         Some fragments have been discovered of the mortuary temple of Teti’s pyramid complex despite the fact that most of its blocks were robbed in antiquity. His valley temple has not been located yet. A large cemetery for the burials of Teti’s officials lies in front of his pyramid. Some of the grandest and most beautifully decorated tombs of the Old Kingdom are located here, such as the mastabas of the viziers Mereruka and Kagemni.

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