Elvera Cervantes

Written by Elvera Cervantes

Modified & Updated: 19 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Roughguides.com

Saqqara is an ancient necropolis located in Egypt, just south of Cairo. It is an archaeological site that holds great historical and cultural significance. In fact, Saqqara is home to the famous Step Pyramid, one of the earliest colossal stone structures ever built and a testament to the advanced engineering skills of the ancient Egyptians. But there’s more to this remarkable site than meets the eye. In this article, we will explore 15 astonishing facts about Saqqara that will leave you intrigued and amazed. From hidden chambers to sacred animals, from intricate murals to archaeological discoveries, Saqqara offers a wealth of wonders waiting to be discovered. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of Saqqara and uncover its secrets.

Key Takeaways:

  • Saqqara: A Fascinating Ancient Site
    Discover the oldest stone pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser, and the mysterious Serapeum. Saqqara offers a glimpse into ancient Egyptian culture and ongoing archaeological discoveries.
  • Unveiling Ancient Egyptian Life
    Explore Saqqara’s rich history, from same-sex couple depictions to the enigmatic Saqqara Bird. This UNESCO World Heritage Site reveals the vibrant city and cultural dynamics of ancient Egypt.
Table of Contents

The Step Pyramid of Djoser is the centerpiece of Saqqara

The Step Pyramid of Djoser, located in Saqqara, is considered the oldest stone pyramid in Egypt and the first colossal stone building in history. It was built during the 27th century BC for the Pharaoh Djoser by his architect Imhotep. The structure consists of six stacked mastabas, or rectangular structures, which created a step-like appearance, giving the pyramid its unique design.

Saqqara is a vast necropolis

Saqqara is an expansive ancient burial ground that served as the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis for over 3,000 years. It is home to countless tombs, including elaborate structures for nobles, high-ranking officials, and pharaohs. The site covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 kilometers and is a testament to the rich history and cultural significance of ancient Egypt.

The Serapeum of Saqqara is a mysterious underground complex

The Serapeum of Saqqara is an underground complex that housed the sacred Apis bulls, considered to be incarnations of the god Ptah. The bulls were mummified and laid to rest in large granite sarcophagi. The precision and size of these sarcophagi have puzzled researchers and raised questions about the engineering capabilities of ancient Egyptians.

Imhotep, the architect of Djoser’s pyramid, was an influential figure

Imhotep, the architect responsible for designing and constructing the Step Pyramid of Djoser, was a highly revered figure in ancient Egypt. He is considered the world’s first recorded architect and is often described as a genius, physician, and philosopher. Imhotep’s innovative approach to construction and his contributions to medicine and literature solidified his legendary status.

The Pyramid Texts were first inscribed in Saqqara

The Pyramid Texts, a collection of ancient Egyptian religious texts, were first inscribed on the walls of the pyramids at Saqqara. These texts provide valuable insights into the religious beliefs and rituals of ancient Egyptians and shed light on their views of the afterlife.

The Tomb of Unas features the earliest known instance of the Book of the Dead

The Tomb of Unas, located in Saqqara, contains the earliest known version of the Book of the Dead, a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary texts. The elaborate hieroglyphic inscriptions provide detailed instructions and spells to guide the deceased through the afterlife.

Saqqara was a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979

In recognition of its outstanding cultural and historical significance, Saqqara was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in The site showcases the evolution of ancient Egyptian funerary architecture and offers valuable insights into the beliefs and practices of the ancient civilization.

The Mastaba of Mereruka is one of Saqqara’s most elaborate tombs

The Mastaba of Mereruka is a tomb located in Saqqara and is renowned for its exceptional preservation and intricate reliefs. The tomb, dating back to the 6th dynasty, is believed to belong to Mereruka, a high-ranking official who served under Pharaoh Teti.

Saqqara is home to the ancient Imhotep Museum

The Imhotep Museum, located near the entrance of Saqqara, houses numerous artifacts and exhibits related to the Saqqara complex and the discoveries made at the site. It provides visitors with a deeper understanding of the ancient history and culture associated with Saqqara.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser served as a precursor to the Great Pyramids of Giza

The innovative design of the Step Pyramid of Djoser, with its stacked mastabas, served as an architectural inspiration for the later construction of the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza. The development and refinement of the pyramid form at Saqqara laid the foundation for the monumental structures that followed.

Saqqara is an ongoing archaeological site

Archaeological excavations and research are continuously conducted at Saqqara, unearthing new discoveries and shedding light on various aspects of ancient Egyptian civilization. The site remains a treasure trove of information for historians and Egyptologists, contributing to our understanding of this remarkable ancient culture.

The tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep depicts same-sex couple

The tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep in Saqqara is renowned for its uniquely intimate depictions of the two men, believed to have been a same-sex couple. The scenes on the walls depict the couple embracing and participating in daily activities together, providing a glimpse into the acceptance and inclusivity of ancient Egyptian society.

Saqqara was once a bustling city

In its prime, Saqqara was a thriving city, housing not only tombs and burial grounds but also residential areas, temples, and structures for administrative purposes. The ruins of this once-vibrant city reveal the complex social and cultural dynamics of ancient Egyptian society.

The Saqqara Bird is an ancient model aircraft

The Saqqara Bird, a wooden model discovered in Saqqara, resembles a bird with aerodynamic features. Some experts speculate that it may have been an ancient toy or even a prototype of an early aircraft, suggesting ancient Egyptians had knowledge of basic aerodynamics.

The Gisr el-Mudir is a lesser-known but fascinating structure in Saqqara

The Gisr el-Mudir is a mysterious enclosure located in Saqqara, featuring a mud-brick wall and a grand entrance. Its purpose and function remain unclear, but it adds to the enigmatic nature of Saqqara and the intriguing remnants of the ancient Egyptian civilization.


In conclusion, Saqqara is truly an astonishing destination with a rich historical significance. From its iconic Step Pyramid of Djoser to the fascinating tales of its ancient tombs and temples, Saqqara offers a unique glimpse into the ancient civilization of Egypt. The fact that it is less crowded than its famous counterpart, the Giza Plateau, makes it an even more appealing choice for history enthusiasts and explorers.Whether you are fascinated by ancient architecture, intrigued by hieroglyphics, or simply captivated by the mysteries of the past, Saqqara will not disappoint. With its awe-inspiring landmarks and remarkable archaeological discoveries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a testament to the ingenuity and artistic achievements of the ancient Egyptians.So, if you ever find yourself in Egypt, make sure to include Saqqara in your itinerary. Prepare to be amazed by the astonishing facts and hidden wonders that await you in this extraordinary ancient city.


1. How old is Saqqara?

Saqqara dates back to the early Dynastic Period, around 2700 BC, making it over 4,700 years old.

2. What is the significance of the Step Pyramid of Djoser?

The Step Pyramid of Djoser, located in Saqqara, is considered the earliest large-scale cut-stone construction and the first pyramid built in Egypt, marking a significant architectural advancement in ancient history.

3. Are there other pyramids in Saqqara?

Yes, Saqqara is home to several pyramids, including the Pyramid of Unas, the Pyramid of Teti, and the Pyramid of Userkaf, among others.

4. Can visitors enter the tombs in Saqqara?

Some of the tombs in Saqqara are open to visitors, allowing them to explore the beautifully decorated chambers and learn about the burial practices and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.

5. What other notable attractions can be found in Saqqara?

Aside from the pyramids and tombs, Saqqara boasts other remarkable landmarks such as the Serapeum, which houses the massive sarcophagi of the Apis bulls, and the Imhotep Museum, dedicated to the history and archaeology of the site.

Saqqara's captivating history and archaeological wonders have left you in awe, but don't stop exploring now! Uncover more fascinating ancient sites like Samarra Archaeological City, where centuries-old ruins tell tales of bygone eras. Marvel at the iconic structures of Giza, whose timeless beauty continues to inspire. Dive deeper into the rich heritage of Ancient Egypt and discover a civilization that shaped our world. Each destination holds its own unique stories and surprises waiting to be unveiled. So, which mesmerizing journey will you embark on next?

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