Unis-Pyramid Cemetery at Saqqara

By Anneke Bart

Pyramid of Unis

A shared mastaba of Queen Khenut and Queen Nebet, Queens related to King Unis. Possibly his wives. Their shared mastaba was investigated in 1990's?

Unis was the last Pharaoh of the fifth dynasty. It is not known who his parents were. Unis followed Pharaoh Djedkare Isesi on the throne. Unis may have been the father of the King's Son Unis-ankh whose tomb chapel is at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Unis is known to have had several daughters: Hemetre called Hemi (buried in Saqqara), Khentkaues (buried at Saqqara), and Iput whose husband Teti would follow Unis on the throne.
Other possible daughters include Nefertkaues, Neferut and Sesheshet called Idut.
A wonderful site with photographs is this following page:
The author includes this map of the Unis pyramid and cemetery. Follow the link above to see the original clickable map.

The original map - which is of much higher quality than the one shown here - can be found at the original site:   http://egyptphoto.ncf.ca/unas%20map.jpg

Another site with photographs of some of these structures can be found here:


The numbering below corresponds to the numbering used in Kanawati's book [3]. Dr. Kanawati gives a much more detailed description of the tombs and their owners, explains the reason for the dating of the individuals to a certain time period, and gives many more of the numerous titles that these people carried. Furthermore, Dr Kanawati discusses the apparently turbulent times of Unas, Teti and Pepi I. Pharaoh Teti may well have been assassinated and there are further indications of power struggles at court.

The other people listed are also known to have been buried at the Unis cemetery at Saqqara.

1. Akhethetep, also called Hemi, Time of Unis (late period?).

Chief Justice, Vizier, etc.
This mastaba is relatively large. The names Akethetep and Hemi have been deliberately erased. His sarcophagus was also adapted for Nebkauhor.
Reused by Nebkauhor, also called Idu, eldest king's son of his body.
2. Hermeru, also called Merery, Time of Unis - Pepi I
Overseer of the guards, Guard and priest of Unis' Pyramid, etc. Hermeru is described as honored before the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Unis. There is no deliberate damage to the tomb, but the work did apparently come to a sudden halt. One of the false doors belonged to his wife Wadjkaues.
3. Ihy ,  Time of Unis (late period?)
Vizier, Overseer of the two granaries, Overseer of the two treasuries, etc.
Reused by Idut, also called Seshseshet, King's daughter of his body. Her attendant was named Teti-ankh, and many daughters of Teti carried the name Seshseshet so she may have been a daughter of Teti. On the other hand, the proximity of her tomb to the pyramid of Unis may mean that she's Unis' daughter.
Irukaptah called Khenu
Head of the Butchers of the Great House, Wab priest of the King.
4. Iy, Time of Unis - Pepi I
Overseer of the Palace Guards, Guard of Pepi I's pyramid, priest of Unis' pyramid.
Possibly the son of Niankhpepy. The decoration of the tomb was stopped abruptly.
5. Iyenhor, Late Unis - Early Pepi I
Royal chamberlain, Companion of the House, Overseer of the department of the palace guards.
Iynefert called Shanef, Time of Unis
Vizier, Iynefert's tomb is located near that of Mehu, Unis-ankh and Ihy
Mehu Time of Unis - Pepi I
Mehu's tomb is located near that of Iynefert, Unis-ankh and Ihy

6. Niankh-khnum, also called Khenemi and Imi, Possibly time of Pepi I

Royal chamberlain of the Palace, Superintendent of the palace guards.
Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep. Mid 5th dynasty?
Prophets of Ra in the Sun temple if Niuserre, Head of the Manicurists of the Great House.
7. Niankh-Pepi, Time of Unis - Pepi I
His name is thought to replace that of a man called Ptahhetep. The name of the wife and children remains the same. This may mean that Ptahhetep was allowed to rename himself in honor of King Pepy. Niankh-Pepi was Overseer of the Palace Guards, Guard of Pepi I's pyramid, etc. His son was named Iy.
8. Niankh-Pepi, also called Heap., Time of Pepi I.
His earlier name was Sebekhotep. Royal chamberlain, Overseer of the palace guards, etc.
9. Niankh-Ptah, also called Ithi, Time of Teti - Pepi I ?
Royal chamberlain, Overseer of the palace guards, etc. The tomb owner sits on a chair inscribed with the names of Niuserre, Menkauhor, Isesi, Unis, and Teti. Hence Niankh-Ptah may have served even before Teti.
10. Tjetju, Time of Unis - Pepi.
Overseer of the palace guards, priest of the pyramids of Unis and Pepi I, etc.
Unis-Ankh, Time of Unis
Probably a son of Unis. Overseer of Upper Egypt, Priest of Maat, etc.
His tomb is located near that of Iynefert, Mehu and Ihy


Bibliography / Suggested Reading:

[1] A. Dodson and D. Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004

[2] N. Kanawati, M. Abder-Raziq, The Unis Cemetery at Saqqara II: The Tombs Of Iynefert And Ihy (reused by Idut) (The Australian Centre for Egyptology), 2004
[3] N. Kanawati, Conspiracies in the Egyptian Palace: Unis to Pepi., 2003
[4] Ann McFarlane The Unis Cemetery at Saqqara I The Tomb of Irukaptah , 2000