Imhotep Museum

Top choice in Cairo Outskirts & the Nile Delta

In the complex at the entrance to the Saqqara site is this beautiful collection of some of the best finds from Saqqara, and one of the finest small museums in Egypt. It is framed as a tribute to the architect Imhotep, who served Pharaoh Zoser and is credited with creating ancient Egypt’s first comprehensive vision of stone architecture (he also happens to be considered the world’s first physician). His solid wood coffin is on display in one room.

There’s a good installation of the turquoise-green faience tiles from inside Zoser’s pyramid and the striking carvings of starving people, complete with bony ribs and sagging breasts, found on the causeway of Unas. You’ll also see some beautifully realistic portrait heads and statues, and a mummy (Merrenre I) with his toes and head exposed – the oldest complete royal mummy, from 2292 BC.

As an interesting counterpoint to all the ancient stuff, one room is a recreation of the library of Jean-Philippe Lauer, who spent most of his life excavating Saqqara.