ten years investigation in the funereal area of the Pharaoh of the VI dynasty,
The Pyramid of Pepi I
At the west outskirts of El Cairo there is the most extended graveyard area of all the human history, which from Gizah, where the three monumental Pyramids and the Sphinx arise, reaches, running along the full desert, between the Nile Valley and the Fayum Oasis, Saggara and Memphis.
It is a succession of Pyramids (from those of Cheope, Chefren and Micerino as far as that of Zose, terraces made, the most ancient one) and common graves, a wide necropolis suited to ensure the eternal rest (or the new life, according to the Egyptian beliefs) to the great pharaohs of the Ancient Kingdom.
In this paradise of monuments, still plenty of surprises and relics, the team of archaeologists indulge their investigating activity and among all the missions it is to notice the French one carried out by “Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique”, nowadays directed by Audron Labrousse, that reckons among its attachés the legend of the world Egyptology, Mr. Jean-Philippe Lauer, 96 years old everlasting archaeologist and architect, who since more than 70 years sounds the sands of Saqqara searching Pharaoh's relics.
The French team (also supported by the French Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, nowadays faultlessly directed by Prof. Nicolas Grimal), works by now since more than ten years in the wide funeral area of Pharaoh Pepi I (VI Dynasty, 2200 b.C.), looking for testimonies about him and his very numerous family, buried there.
The French colleagues have gone into the funereal chamber of Pepi I (already known for a long time) and have begun to decipher the hieroglyphs that cover the corridor, the anteroom and the chamber where the granite sarcophagus is still there: it concerns sacred texts, declaimed by the believers in the dead Pharaoh honour by the means of a wording never attested before (also because generally the pyramids do not bear hieroglyphics on their corridors walls); and these texts do not report only prayers, but also narrate the deeds of the pharaoh during life, spacing them with passages of the Book of the Dead (sacred text, which had among the Egyptian a meaning akin to the one we attribute to the Bible).
On the structure blocks it is possible to see several marks, which report the name of the constructing architects or the name of some believer, rushed before Pepi I: “ Still nowadays writing one's own name on the monuments of the urban centres” is a custom explains to me Vassil Dobrev, of the French
who is attached to the study of those inscriptions.
On the east side of the Pyramid, that is toward where the sun rises, there is a wide sacred area: it is the temple (with the warehouses, niches and the penetralia, the most recess places), raised up in Pepi I honour, where the believers converged with the offers, essential to provide for the dead 'post mortem'.The zone of Pepi I develops southwards with the pyramids (whose dimensions are smaller than those of the Pharaoh) for his numerous wives who merit receive a suitable residence for their new life; among these structure it must be pointed out the complex for the beautiful Inenek- Inti, the favourite among all the wives of the King and who is conveniently greeted on the two obelisks at the entry: “The King of the High an Low Egypt, who lives for ever, has built this complex, as a monument in the noble heiress honour, his wife and young lover, Queen Inenek-Inti”.
In the internal part of this great structure it is still kept the pyramid (with the granite sarcophagus) and small funereal chapels with lintels for portals bringing prayers for the Queen, written in hieroglyphic.
In the last campaign, ended on the past month of March, there were important novelties: the archaeologists directed by Lauer founded under the sand a new pyramid.
It is without the top, because in the past centuries the habitants of the surroundings villages used the blocks as constructing material, but it still keeps the granite sarcophagus with a heavy block placed on it as a protection; the mummy has been deep away in the middle age by the brigands of the desert, searching the gold of the Pharaohs.
The owner of this funereal residence, as we decipher from the inscriptions founded in the interior, was Queen Mehaa, one of the favourite wives of Pepi I.
Monumental and very well known is all the Saqqara zone - where the transalpine archaeologists has placed their own operative basis - which constitutes a taken by itself impressive funereal area (also enclosed in this valley of 30 Km. plenty of the last resting-places of the Great of the Ancient Kingdom, above mentioned).
You can find the most varied vestige of the endless history of this great Country.
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