Userkare is a mysterious figure in Egyptian history. He was the second pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty placed between Teti (who reigned from circa 2345-2333 BC) and Tetis son Pepi I (who reigned from circa 2332-2283 BC) and a usurper to the throne, who took power after Teti was murdered, perhaps in a conspiracy engineered by Userkare himself. His reign lasted just two to four years at most before he was ousted; afterwards he all but disappeared from history. Archaeologists are on the hunt for his missing tomb, to see what secrets it might reveal.
We must find Userkare, states the Egyptologist heading up the search, Dr Vassil (or Vasko) Dobrev of the French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo, in an exclusive video interview with Heritage Key by Nico Piazza. Otherwise we cannot continue to explain the history of the sixth dynasty.
Dobrev has whittled the hunt for Userkares tomb down to a plateau in the south of the ancient necropolis of Saqqara the royal graveyard of the Egyptian capital Memphis where he has located numerous graves of priests and other high-ranking officials from the Sixth Dynasty.
He reasons that, since kings were never buried alone, Userkares tomb may be nearby.
Dobrevs team have 15 hectares in all to search a tall order indeed. They’ve excavated just one fifth of a hectare so far, finding 15 Sixth Dynasty tombs in that small area alone.
You never know archaeology, says Dobrev, sounding philosophical, you search for somebody you find somebody else.
He points to the discoverer of the tomb of King Tut as being a highly rare example of an archaeologist achieving what he set out to achieve.
Its only Howard Carter who found something clear, he says. He looked for something, he found something. It happens once per century.
Thats not to say Dobrev doesnt believe he wont get as lucky. Now were in the 21th century, the Frenchman adds, we can make it again. Who knows?
See more great video interviews, such as Zahi Hawass talking about the search for KV64 and Dr Mark Lehner discussing the lives of pyramid builders in ancient Egypt, here on Heritage Key. Or visit our HeritageKey Media YouTube Channel to see what else we’ve discovered.