Pyramid of Ibi
The end of the Old Kingdom after the reign of Pepy II, seems to have happened suddenly, though Egyptologists are still puzzled by the reason for this. Pepy’s son Nemtyemsaf II had a brief reign, which was followed by a series of rulers whose precise order is still unclear. A legendary queen named Nitocris, the second female pharaoh of Egypt, is mentioned by Herodotus as being the last ruler of Dynasty VI, though there is no real evidence of her reign.
The only ruler we know from Dynasty VIII who attempted to build a pyramid was a king named Ibi (Hakare), whose reign lasted only about two years. The remains of his monument lie near to the causeway of Pepy II’s complex at South Saqqara. Today the pyramid stands only 3m above the desert after being robbed for stone in antiquity. When it was constructed the dimensions and plan were similar to those of Pepy’s queens’ pyramids.
The pyramid’s core was constructed of small limestone blocks in the form of a girdle around the inner chambers. Among the debris of limestone chips and clay, Jequier discovered a number of inscriptions in red paint containing the title of ‘Prince of Libya’, for which Egyptologists seem to have no explanation.
The pyramid’s orientation differs from earlier structures and here the subterranean chambers are entered from the wall which faces north-west. A descending passage leads to the burial chamber. The walls of both passage and burial chamber were originally inscribed with Pyramid Texts – the most recent version to be found in a royal pyramid and which have helped to identify this almost unknown pharaoh. Ibi’s sarcophagus was placed on a huge granite block against the western wall of the burial chamber. The roof of the chamber has now been replaced with modern concrete.
On the eastern (or north-eastern) wall of the pyramid was a small simple mudbrick mortuary chapel with an offering hall which contained a rectangular basin for libations in the floor. Magazines and store-rooms opened off a central courtyard.
How to get there
To reach the South Saqqara Pyramids, visitors can hire camels or horses near the resthouse at North Saqqara and ride a few kilometres across the desert which separates the two areas. Alternatively you can drive to the modern village of Saqqara on the western edge of the cultivated area. A reliable guide is recommended. A taxi from Cairo can be hired for the day.