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the Land of Punt

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Kothar Bishop
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« on: July 12, 2007, 03:11:14 pm »

Userkaf


2498 - 2491 BC

5th Dynasty


Westcar Papyrus and the start of the 5th Dynasty.

The Westcar papyrus states how the 4th dynasty passed into the 5th (a certain Djedi, a wise man who may have been a 'magician' or priest, was a member of the court of Khufu. Djedi would entertain the king with stories - one of these stories turns into prophecy,


This prophetic story relates how a wife of the High priest of Re at Heliopolis would give birth to three sons ("born one cubit long.... the covering of whose limbs were of gold and whose headress was of real lapis lazuli"), each son would become king.

(The Westcar papyrus itself was written in the Hyksos period, but the story of Djedi at the court of Khufu probably originated in the 12th dynasty - read the full account of this prophecy).



Userkaf himself, was the grandson of Djedefre (son of Khufu) - his mother, Queen Neferhetep, was Khufu's daughter. Userkaf further strengthened his claim to the throne by marrying Khentkawes, daughter of Menkaure.

Apart from details given in the Westcar Papyrus, nothing is known concerning the reign of Userkaf. However, Userkaf's reign did leave two monuments:


The Pyramid of Userkaf


('Userkaf is purest of sites')

Original Height - 49 m

Length of Side - 73.5m




The Pyramid has suffered greatly over the years, now barely recognisable as a pyramid instead looking more like a giant mound of rubble (the site had been used a convienant quarry for builders of other local projects). The pyramid was first identified as being that of Userkaf's by Cecil M. Firth in 1928, it is located at Saqqara along the north-east wall of the pyramid enclosure of Djoser. Although it's battered state does not give a good impression of its former grandeur, enough information is left to although archaeologists to reconstruct the groundplan of the site:



A - Pyramid of Userkaf F - Vestibule
B - Entrance G - Saite tomb
C - funerary chapel H - Satellite pyramid
D - Funerary Temple I - Secondary pyramid
E - Courtyard J - Processional Ramp


The pyramid was originally encased in fine Tura limestone, the burial chamber also lined and paved with fine limestone (the sarcophagus was made of basalt - this was empty when discovered).

The satellite pyramid (the tomb of Queen Neferhetepe) was similarly ruined - the remains now contain only a few blocks of limestone which had been the ceiling of the burial chamber.



The funerary temple, originally surrounded with granite pillars, was decorated with bas-reliefs and also held a colossal statue of Userkaf (see picture above)
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