Something for a long time we have not turned to the history of Ancient Egypt, interrupting our story about the pyramids of the Old Kingdom exactly on the three pyramids of Father Khufu - the creator of the most famous pyramid to all of us in Giza. And this is hardly surprising, the complexes are inherent not only in modern children, but in the past, no one canceled them. Do you think it is easy to be the son of the great Sneferu - the conqueror pharaoh, who left behind not one, but three whole pyramids. Well, if I don’t do more,”his son Khufu could reasonably reasoned,“at least I’ll build myself such a pyramid that no one has ever built for myself, and… I built it!
The destroyed pyramid of Pharaoh Unis. Photo from one of the steps of the Djoser pyramid. In the background is the pyramid of Pharaoh Aunt.
However, it should be remembered that many other (!) Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom before Sneferu also built pyramids for themselves, and many of them have survived to this day! Moreover, it is thanks to these not too well-preserved pyramids that we know for sure that they were intended specifically for the repose of the souls of the pharaohs, and not for some other purpose. How do you know, someone impatient will ask us, and we will answer: the pyramids themselves, or rather, the Pyramids Texts found inside them, “told” about this to scientists.
What it is? And here's what - the oldest literary monument of such a significant volume, which has come down to us from Egypt, and which is hieroglyphic texts inscribed on the walls inside the pyramids of the pharaoh of the V dynasty of Unis and such pharaohs of the VI dynasty as Atoty, Piopi (or Pepi) I, Mernera and Piopi (Pepi) II, located again in Sakkara.
View of the cobbled road leading to the pyramid of Pharaoh Unis of the 5th Dynasty.
What are these pyramids, let's start with this. So, Unis (and it was in his pyramid that the very first "texts of the pyramids" were found), commanded to build himself a pyramid in Sakkara, called Nefer-sut-Unis - "Beautiful [resting places] of Unis". It is quite small (67 × 67 m, and 48 m in height), and it is located immediately behind the south-western corner of the fence, around the memorial complex of Pharaoh Djoser. To date, it is very badly destroyed - the top is rounded, the walls are weathered, the base is completely heaped up with blocks that have collapsed from above, so it does not even reach half of its previous height in height. However, despite the strong destruction of the pyramid from above, its interior was preserved very well and is allowed to be viewed by tourists.
Pyramid of Pharaoh Pepi II in South Saqqara.
Anyone who gets inside is always amazed at what he sees. And he sees the walls of the burial chamber, from floor to ceiling, covered with ancient hieroglyphs, in fact, the most real extravaganza of these ancient written signs containing huge amounts of information. This is the "Pyramid Texts", which are sacred documents drawn up at the end of the 3rd millennium BC. priests of the city of Heliopolis, although, judging by their content, some of them belong to even more ancient, pre-dynastic times.
As you can see, little is left of Pepi II's pyramid.
This burial chamber covered with hieroglyphs under the pyramid of Unis is reached through the north wall down a long passage that was dug up by French archaeologists shortly after the discovery of this monument.
The pyramid of Userkaf, the first pharaoh of the V dynasty, resembles a pointed hill at all.
The chamber itself is made up of two small rectangular chambers separated by a wall with a low doorway. Both rooms are covered with a gable ceiling, decorated with images of stars of the blue-green color, beloved by the Egyptians. The area of the tomb is 7 × 3 m, the ceiling is 6 m high. The massive sarcophagus of Unis, made of black granite, is located near the western wall.
Pyramid of Nyuserr - Pharaoh who ruled from about 2458 - 2422 BC. NS.; Dynasty 5.
However, his pyramid with texts on the walls is far from the only one, that is, over time, the writing on the walls became fashionable, and then this “fashion” passed away. In the necropolis of the pharaohs from Memphis, built sometime between 2350 and 2175. BC BC, in addition to Pharaoh Unis (mid-XXIV century BC), four such pharaohs as Teti, Piopi I, Merenra, Piopi II, and Neferkara (XXII century BC) were also buried. That is, the pyramids, in which these "Texts" were inscribed on the walls, were erected over a century and a half!
And this is how the pyramid of Niuserra and its entire burial complex could look like immediately after construction.
They were discovered in 1880 by the archaeologist Maspero and then for many years in a row they were copied, translated and published. Moreover, it was these texts that became the initial foundation for the study of the Egyptian language, religion and culture, on which all further Egyptology grew. But besides this, they are also a very important monument of universal significance. Why? Because it is perhaps the most ancient work of religious literature in the world. They contain ancient funeral rituals or, more correctly, a set of certain magic formulas and corresponding sayings that were supposed to enable the deceased king to achieve immortality in the next world. It was in the "Texts of the Pyramids" that scientists found the first link in that inextricable chain of funeral magical rituals, which runs through the pagan Egyptian civilization and even partly Christian. That is, here we very clearly see those ideas about the funeral world, which were guided by the ancient Egyptians, burying their kings here.
Plan of the pyramid of Niuserra.
For it is quite clear that no one would write memorial texts on the walls of, say, the same granary or in the repository of ancient secrets. No, in the texts of the pyramids there is no mention of aliens from outer space, nor Atlanteans, nor the inhabitants of the continent of Mu or the ancient Hyperboreans - "people from the north." None of this is there. The speech in the texts of the pyramids is about what the deceased pharaoh (name) should say at the trial of Osiris, what the carrier needs to say across the river of the dead, in a word, everything that an ordinary person cannot remember, but … if he is literate, he can easily read !
One of the burial chambers of the Unis pyramid.
It is interesting that in different pyramids "Pyramid Texts" differ in their volume. So, in the pyramid of Unis they contain 649 lines, in the pyramid of Atoti - only 399, in Piopi I there are more than 800, but in Piopi II - almost 1400. Many of the sayings tend to be repeated in two or more pyramids, which is not surprising. A total of 712 sayings of various lengths were found, ranging from just one phrase to relatively large texts. For those who are familiar with this kind of works of other peoples, it is easy to find here many familiar features: these are various conspiracies, the power of which is associated with belief in the power of the word, vestiges of totemism, that is, when a person, knowing the names of the creatures with which he will be connected afterlife prosperity, he calls them, after which they can no longer harm him. There are also curious references to stories from the life of the gods, allusions to some myths, very often incomprehensible to us, since they have not reached us, finally, "reminders" of how to pronounce certain words correctly and not to confuse anything!
Here they are - "Pyramid Texts".
There are formulas that should accompany funeral rites, spells against various demonic entities, animals and people who were at enmity with the deceased king, and, of course, prayers to the gods with requests to provide the deceased with their protection. It is difficult to study the texts, since they are written not just in hieroglyphs, but in archaic language and spelling, specially adapted for writing magical texts. For example, their authors tried to avoid hieroglyphs that depicted living creatures that could harm the deceased king, even if they were just carved in stone. The green color of the written hieroglyphs was also the color of the resurrection, that is, there was not a single trifle in these texts that would not act in the interests of the pharaoh, who found his last refuge under this “mountain of stone”.
The wall in the pyramid of Pharaoh Aunt with the "Pyramid Texts" carved on the stone.
Gaston Maspero himself was the first to try to decipher the "texts of the pyramids", since 1882 he began work on their translation and publication. They were later published in one volume in 1894. In 1910, Kurt Zete took up the work, not only publishing the "Texts", but organizing them into groups, and scholars still use his text numbering. The Russian translation was started but not completed by the Russian scientist A. L. Kotsejovsky, a disciple of the founder of Russian Egyptology - B. A. Turaeva. So, at the present time, alas, there is no fully completed translation of the Pyramid Texts in Russian. But in 2000, a book was published with that part (chapters 1-254) of the texts that he managed to translate.
Reconstruction of the necropolis of Pepi II.
Why did the "Pyramid Texts" appear and why did they subsequently disappear from them? Perhaps it seemed to their builders that the pyramids themselves were not enough for the king to gain eternal life for them? But why, then, were they rejected later? That this is ancient rationalism or something else that we do not yet know about the spiritual life of the ancient Egyptians?
So, judging by this image on the wall of one of the tombs, the Egyptians transported huge stone statues from place to place. And who prevented them from transporting stone blocks for the construction of the pyramids in the same way?
It is interesting that the texts in the tombs of the nobles of the pharaohs have practically never changed in their content. Their essence is sheer boasting in his address and a description of useful deeds for which the deceased was praised by the pharaoh. So, in the biographical inscription in the tomb of the nobleman Una, who was a contemporary of Pharaoh Piopi I, we learn about the military campaigns of the Egyptians in the lands of Palestine. She reports that the pharaoh, mobilized for the campaign of soldiers throughout Egypt, from the island of Elephantine and up to the Delta, inclusive. In addition, he reinforced his troops with auxiliary detachments from North Nubia and Libyans-mercenaries, after which he sent all this considerable army under the leadership of Una against the Bedouin tribes of the Cheruish (literally, "those who are on the sand") in the Sinai Peninsula and in the desert regions of the South Palestine. The expedition ended in complete success, which we can judge by the following victory song of the warriors of Una:
This army returned safely, having turned the country of the Bedouins.
This army returned safely, having ruined the country of the Bedouins.
This army returned safely, demolishing her fortresses.
This army returned safely, having cut down her fig trees and grapes.
This army returned safely, light a fire in all of her …
This army returned safely, having interrupted in her detachments numbering many tens of thousands.
This army returned safely, [capturing] many [detachments] in it.
His Majesty praised me tremendously for this.
View of the southwest corner of the pyramid of Pharaoh Unis and the step pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser in the background.