Abusir (Arabic: ابو صير ;Egyptian pr wsjr; “the House or Temple of Osiris”; Ancient Greek: Βούσιρις) is the name given to an ancient Egyptian archaeological pyramid complex comprising the ruins of 4 kings’ pyramids dating to the old kingdom period, and is part of the pyramid fields of the Memphis and its Necropolis UNESCO world heritage site.

History of Abusir

The pyramid complex is after the neighbouring village of Abusir, in the markaz (county) of Badrashin,Giza. The Abusir pyramid complex is located on the Western desert plateau at the edge of the cultivated plain, with the Giza pyramids to its north, and Saqqara to its south, and served as one of the main elite cemeteries for the ancient Egyptian capital city of Memphis. Egyptians named several other villages in northern and southern Egypt Abusir or Busiri.

The locality of Abusir took its turn as the focus of the prestigious western burial rites operating out of the then-capital of Memphis during the old kingdom 5th dynasty. As an elite cemetery, neighbouring Giza had by then “filled up” with the massive pyramids and other monuments of the 4th dynasty, leading the 5th dynasty pharaohs to seek sites elsewhere for their own funerary monuments.

Abusir was the origin of the largest find of old kingdom papyri to date — the Abusir papyri. In the late nineteenth century, a number of Western museums acquired collections of fragmentary papyri from the administrative (temple) records of one Abusir funerary cult, that of king Neferirkare Kakai.


Abusir necropolis
Abusir, pyramids

Earliest tombs on the site are from the Early Dynastic Period, First Dynasty. Tombs, including stairway tombs, were at the north of pyramid field.

There are a total of 4 kings’ pyramids at this site, which served royal necropolis during the Fifth Dynasty. The quality of construction of the Abusir pyramids is inferior to those of the Fourth Dynasty; perhaps signalling a decrease in royal power or a less vibrant economy. They are smaller than their predecessors, and they built it of low quality local stone. All of the major pyramids at Abusir were built as step pyramids, although the largest of them—the Pyramid of Neferirkare—is believed to have originally been built as a step pyramid some seventy metres in height and then later transformed into a “true” pyramid by having its steps filled in with loose masonry.

Complete list of excavated structures until the year 2019 is available in this article. The map is also published online as a searchable application.

Major pyramids

The three major royal pyramids are

  • the earliest, pyramid of sahure, known for its finely carved reliefs
  • the pyramid of Neferirkare Kakai , the tallest pyramid at the site
  • the pyramid of Niuserre, the most intact pyramid at the site

The two unfinished royal pyramids are

  • the incomplete pyramid of Neferefre.
  • the unfinished pyramid of shepseskare ?

Smaller pyramids

  • the pyramid of Queen KhentkausII, wife of Neferirkare and mother of Neferefre and Niuserre
  • Lepsius pyramid no. 24 — The pyramid belonged to a woman, likely a queen. The name of the vizier Ptahshepses appears among builders’ marks, which dates the pyramid to the time of Pharaoh Nyuserre
  • Lepsius pyramid no. 25 — Likely the pyramid of a queen from the Fifth Dynasty.