Funerary Complex of Unas

By the Editors of the Madain Project

  • This article is a stub as it does not provide effective content depth for the core subject discussed herein. We're still working to expand it, if you'd like to help with it you can request expansion. This tag should be removed, once the article satisfies the content depth criteria.
    What is this?

  • This article is undergoing or requires copyediting. Once done, this tag should be removed.

The Funerary Complex of Unas, also known as the Mortuary Complex of Unas, is an ancient Egyptian burial complex near the Step-Pyramid in Saqqara Necropolis. Unas built his pyramid complex between the complexes of Sekhemket and Djoser, in North Saqqara. Anchored to the valley temple at a nearby lake, a long causeway was constructed to provide access to the pyramid site.

See Subject Home > Middle East > Egypt > Saqqara > Funerary Complex of Unas


The mortuary complex of Unas, the last king of the fifth dynasty (circa 2350 BCE), includes the mortuary temple, the ascending passage and the valley temple.

The pyramid complex is situated on the Saqqara plateau and lies on a line running from the pyramid of Sekhemkhet to the pyramid of Menkauhor. The site required the construction of an exceptionally long causeway to reach a nearby lake, suggesting the site held some significance to Unas.

Unas's complex is situated between the pyramid of Sekhemkhet and the south-west corner of the pyramid complex of Djoser. It is in symmetry with the pyramid of Userkaf situated at the north-east corner, in Saqqara.

Notable Structures

circa 2360 BCE

The Pyramid of Unas is the smallest Old Kingdom pyramid, but significant due to the discovery of Pyramid Texts, spells for the king's afterlife incised into the walls of its subterranean chambers.

The core of the pyramid was built six steps high, constructed with roughly dressed limestone blocks which decreased in size in each step. The construction material for the core would, ideally, have been locally sourced. This was then encased with fine white limestone blocks quarried from Tura.

circa 2360 BCE

Mortuary Temple
The mortuary temple in Unas's pyramid complex has a layout comparable to his predecessor, Djedkare Isesi's, with one notable exception. A pink granite doorway separates the end of the causeway from the entrance hall. It bears the names and titles of Teti, Unas's successor, indicating that he must have had the doorway constructed following Unas's death.

circa 2360 BCE

The causeway connecting the valley temple to the mortuary temple of Unas's pyramid complex was constructed along the path provided by a natural wadi. The Egyptologist Iorwerth Edwards estimates the walls to be 4 meters (13 feet) high, and 2.04 meters (6 feet 8 inches) thick. The passageway was about 2.65 meters (8 feet 8 inches) wide. It had a roof constructed from slabs 0.45 meters (1 feet 6 inches) thick projecting from each wall toward the centre. It was among the longest constructed for any pyramid, comparable to the causeway of Khufu's pyramid.

circa 2360 BCE

Valley Temple
Unas's valley temple is situated in a harbour that naturally forms at the point where the mouth of a wadi meets the lake. The same wadi was used as a path for the causeway. The temple sits between those of Nyuserre Ini and Pepi II. Despite a complex plan, the temple did not contain any significant innovations. It was richly decorated – in a fashion similar to the causeway and mortuary temple – and the surviving palm granite columns that stood at the entrance into the temple evidence their high quality craftsmanship.


See Also


Let's bring some history to your inbox

Signup for our monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy