The unfinished pyramid of Neferefre

Southwest of the pyramid of Neferirkare there is the unfinished Pyramid of Neferefre . Based on the Abusir Papyri, it was longtime suspected that Neferefre's funerary monument had to be located at Abusir, but it took until the early 1970s for the remains of the unfinished pyramid complex which lay to the southwest of Neferirkare's to be identified as his. The pyramid itself was indeed left unfinished, and the accompanying mortuary temple was but finished in the years following Neferefre's early death.

The mortuary temple of Neferefre

To the east of Neferefre's pyramid a mortuary temple was built. It was completed in three stages:

The first stage, hastily finished following the king's death, may probably only have consisted of a small temple built against the east face of the pyramid. The entrance was unusually located in the south (rather than the east) and led to a vestibule and three chambers, one of which was the actual offering room, containing a false door made of red granite and an altar. If two seal impressions bearing the Horus-name of Shepseskare can be taken as evidence that it was Shepseskare and not Niuserre who succeeded Neferefre, then the chronology of the 5th Dynasty may need to be revised slightly.

The second stage of the mortuary temple was definitely added by Niuserre. It extended the original temple to the east and moved the entrance to the complex to the centre of the east as well. Niuserre also added several magazines to the temple.

During the third stage, the temple was again extend towards the east. A new entrance, supported by two columns was added, as well as a court lined with 24 wooden columns.


Map of the unfinished pyramide, together with a historical photo from the time of the excavations, taken from Lehner, The complete pyramids, p.147

The Neferefre pyramid

Neferefre's pyramid was started with a base of 65 metres square, approximately the size of Sahure's Pyramid. The builders had started leveling the ground where the pyramid was to be build and the had dug a pit in the middle of it, where the burial chamber was planned. They also dug a trench leading from the north side of the square towards the pit.

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