Middle Kingdom tomb architecture at Saqqara

At the end of the Old Kingdom large areas of the Saqqara plateau had already been overbuilt by extensive cemeteries of private mastabas, constructed around the royal pyramids. Much less construction was added during the succeeding period. The pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom, however, were buried at Thebes (home town of Dynasty 11) and in or near the Fayum (where the new capital of Dynasty 12 was situated). In the southernmost stretch of Saqqara there are two small pyramids that were dated to Dynasty 13 (1781-1650 BC). These were built of mudbrick and had an elaborate system of subterranean corridors and rooms built in stone. The northernmost pyramid belonged to king Khendjer and comprised a small subsidiary pyramid and a square enclosure wall. The other (anonymous) pyramid had a peculiar wavy enclosure wall.

During the heyday of the Old Kingdom, high officials had to build their tombs near the capital (Memphis). Middle Kingdom officials, however, generaly chose to be buried near their hometowns. Renowned are the rock-cut tombs in the provincial capitals in Middle Egypt which were built by the local governors (nomarchs). As a result of these developments, not many Middle Kingdom remains were found in Saqqara. Some tombs of contemporary officials have been found near the Teti pyramid and the mastabas of Mereruka and Kagemni. These belong to men called Ipy, Hetep, Sekweskhet and Sahathoripy. The chapels of Ihy and Hetep consisted of a pillared court entered from the south or north, respectively. From here one could enter a transverse corridor in the west, leading to three smaller rooms: two statue rooms and one containing the false door of the owner. A shaft from the court leads to the burial chamber, which had small niches for the canopic jars. Not much was left of the tombs of Sekweskhet and Sahathoripy. Their superstructures were gone, only the underground chambers remain which were more extensive than those of Ihy and Hetep.

More Middle Kingdom tombs have been excavated to the east of the pyramid of Teti, beneath the remains of the Anubieion enclosure walls. The most elaborate of these consisted of a 4 meter wide room with stone walls and double stone covering slabs. Next to this was a small room meant to house the canopic jars, with a mudbrick vault over these two rooms. Other tombs consist of a relatively shallow shaft with small sidechambers leading off from it. In those chambers a coffin was placed accompanied by grave goods such as models and provisions.