The last king of the 5th Dynasty was Unas, whose rubble-core pyramid lies just to the south of Djoser's temenos wall at Saqqara. Although largely ruined, it still preserves the basic pyramid complex with a valley temple at the desert edge from which a long causeway (with a curious kink in it) leads up to the east face of the mortuary temple and the north entrance to the pyramid. The pyramid was first entered in modern times by Gaston Maspero in 1881 when he found that, for the first time, the interior of a pyramid was decorated. The antechamber and most of the walls of the burial chamber were covered by long columns of texts, the so-called 'Pyramid Texts'.
On the outer casing of the south side of Unas' pyramid is an inscription recording the restoration of the pyramid, which had fallen into decay, and the restitution of the king's name. This was done in the 19th Dynasty by Khaemwaset, High Priest of Memphis and one of the many sons of Ramses II who predeceased him: he might be described as the first conservation archaeologist. Found scattered on the desert face, the inscription was restored and replaced high up on the pyramid in the late 1940s.
It appears that Unas left no heir, leading to a short period of political instability. This was apparently resolved, however, when Teti rose to the throne as the first ruler of the 6th Dynasty.
The Pyramids Texts
|The Pyramids Texts|
No complete series exists in any of the pyramids, but a total of 400 spells have been collated from the pyramids of Unas and his 6th Dynasty successors. The texts were replaced in the Middle Kingdom by the Coffin Texts, which subsequently became the papyrus ‘Book of the Dead’ in the New Kingdom.