Episode 10: A Temple to the Sun


The Fifth Dynasty Ascends

Shepseskaf ends the Fourth Dynasty, and his brother Userkaf begins a new one. How do we define the end of one “period” and the beginning of another? In this case, it is through the advent of a new kind of monument…

The Sun Temples of Dynasty V are unique in the Old Kingdom, and set this family apart from their predecessors. Dedicated to Atum-Re, these temples celebrate the eternal king and Creator God, whose unity in heaven perpetuates existence.

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Userkaf_Sun_temple_rendered_Mk2A digital reconstruction of a solar temple at Abu Sir and Abu Ghurab, the new centre(s) of royal monument building (Source: Wikimedia).

EPSON scanner Image

The face of Userkaf (Source: Wikipedia).


The pyramid of Userkaf (foreground) at Saqqara; built close to the Step Pyramid, to proclaim the king’s legitimacy and link with the legendary Third Dynasty.


Miroslav Verner, Abusir: Realm of Osiris, 2004.

Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, 2008.

Ian Shaw (editor), The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, 2004.

Gay Robins, The Art of Ancient Egypt, 2008.

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