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Abu Rawash [now Abū Ruwāsh]locked

  • E. P. Uphill

Site of necropolis in Egypt, 9 km north of Giza, which flourished c. 2925–c. 2450 bc. Mud-brick mastaba tombs of 1st Dynasty nobles are the earliest buildings at Abu Rawash. The largest mastaba (26×14 m) has eight large recesses in its long walls and is flanked by eight servants’ burials on its eastern side. Two funerary boats are associated with Tomb M25. The pyramid of King Radjedef of the 4th Dynasty dominates the site. Reached by a gigantic causeway, it is spectacularly situated at a height of c. 157 m above the level of the Nile Valley. It was originally c. 67 m high and 105 m square. The 1500 m causeway originally supported a stone corridor, which, with its side walls, measured 14 m wide, while the embankment below widened to 31.5 m at its base and reached a height of 12 m in places. Most of the stone has been quarried away, but the burial-chamber pit (now open to the sky) gives a good impression of the pyramid’s former splendour. The pyramid stood in a large enclosure (267×217 m) on levelled rock. The funerary temple was never completed as designed, but a boat trench (37×9 m) lies beside the pyramid, and a smaller ritual pyramid stood near by. The easternmost promontory of the mountain range was thought by the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius to be the rock core of an enormous mud-brick pyramid called by him Pyramid No. 1. In the 1980s the site was worked on by Nabil Swelim, who considered it to be the remains of an enormous step pyramid, with about a quarter of its mass being natural rock. He dated it to the end of the 3rd Dynasty, possibly having been built by King Huni, although other writers have suggested a later date, during the 4th Dynasty.

Over 20 fragments of fine statues of Radjedef and his family were found at Abu Rawash, including red quartzite heads of the King (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Paris, Louvre), a limestone bust of his daughter Neferhetepes and a pink granite statuette of his son Sitka (both Paris, Louvre).


  • F. Bisson de La Roque: Rapport sur les fouilles d’Abu-Roasch, 3 vols (Cairo, 1924–5)
  • B. Porter and R. L. B. Moss: Topographical Bibliography (1927–), 3/i pp. 1–10
  • P. Montet: ‘Tombeaux de la Ière et de la IVe dynasties à Abu-Roach’, Kêmi: Rev. Philol. Archéol. Egyp. & Copt., 7 (1938), pp. 11–69
  • A. Klasens: ‘The Excavations of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities of Abu-Roash’, Oudhdknd. Meded. Rijksmus. Ouden Leiden, 38 (1957), pp. 58–68
  • V. Maragioglio and C. Rinaldi: L’architettura della piramidi Menfite, 5 (Rapallo, 1966), pp. 7–41
  • M. Lehner: The Complete Pyramids (London, 1997), pp. 14, 16–18, 36, 50, 66, 96, 107, 120–21
  • M. Verner: The Pyramids: Their Archaeology and History (London, 2002), pp. 151–2, 156, 195, 217–23, 241, 462

See also

egypt, ancient, §i, 1: geography and climate