The pyramid of Neferirkare

The pyramid of Neferirkare is the greatest of the pyramids at Abusir.

The pharaoh Neferirkare Kakai buried in this pyramid was the third pharaoh of the V. dynasty. It is not clear who are his parents: One theory is that he is the son of Userkaf and Khentkaus I. Alternatively, he may have been the son of his predecessor Sahure and Queen Neferetnebty.

Neferirkare built his funerary monument at some distance to the southwest of Sahure's pyramid. This made him the second king to use Abusir as a funerary site. The funerary complex consists of a pyramid and a mortuary temple. The causeway and Valley Temple were left incomplete when Neferirkare died and were completed by his son, Niuserre.

Although Neferirkare was probably already advanced in years when he succeeded Sahure, he set out to build a pyramid that was larger than his brother's. Its base measured 105 metres square and had it been completed as a true pyramid, it would have risen to a height of about 72 metres.

For unknown reasons, Neferirkare planned his funerary monument as a Step Pyramid, rather than the true pyramid shape which was standard by his time. It rose in 6 steps of well-laid limestone. At some point, however, it was decided to convert this monument into a true pyramid, as suggested by filling material that was found on the south and west sides of this monument. The conversion into a true pyramid was never completed, with only the first courses of granite blocks having been laid.

The Neferirkare pyramid is located between the smaller Niuserre pyramid (which is at the north east of it) and the unfinished Neferefre pyramid (which is in the south east).

The basic plan of the pyramid follows the standard scheme: The entry into the pyramid is located in the north. This can be seen on the plan as well as on the satellite image, and where the entry is located is also easy to see on the pictures from the north.

The Neferirkare mortuary temple

Instead, at the east of the pyramid is the mortuary temple of Neferirkare.

The remains of the temple itself do not seem very impressive, but it can be seen - especially from the sattelite picture - that the area of the temple was originally quite large.