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Pyramid of Djoser

Pyramid of Djoser

Pyramid of Djoser

Pyramid of Djoser

The step pyramid (Pyramid of Djoser) and the associated complex illustrate a coalition of tomb construction and the valley district. The founder of the step pyramid (Pyramid of Djoser) was Imhotep, the priest of Heliopolis, who Djoser commissioned to plan and find the tomb. That period was characterized by political stability and progress in construction. The tomb complex of King Zoser (Djoser) is the largest in Saqqara, and its step pyramid (Pyramid of Djoser) heralded the beginning of the pyramid era. When Imhotep, Zoser’s chief architect, erected the pyramid in the 27th century B.C., it was the largest structure ever built of stone – the “beginning of architecture,” according to one historian. Before it was stripped of its facing stones and rounded by the elements, Zoser’s pyramid was 62 meters high and measured 140 meters by 118 meters along its base. The original entrance on the north side is blocked. Still, with permission and keys from the Antiquities Inspectorate, you can enter it through a gallery on the opposite side that was excavated in the XXVI Dynasty.

Dark corridors and vertical ladders protruded 28 meters into the rock, where a granite plush could not prevent robbers from plundering the burial chamber of this III Dynasty monarch (c. 2667 – 2648 BC). To facilitate the pharaoh’s ka, false doors appear at regular intervals, but visitors can only enter the southern corner, most of which has been rebuilt. South of Zoser’s tomb complex is several tombs and other ruins from various dynasties. During the Old Kingdom in Egypt, nobles were buried in underground tombs covered by large mud-brick structures. The name mastaba (Arabic for “bank”) was given to them by local workers during excavations in the 19th century. Three such buildings stand outside the southern wall of the Zoser complex. They are often closed for no apparent reason, but it’s usually just a matter of finding the janitor and tipping him to open them. The Mastaba of It is the most rewarding, with interesting reliefs in five rooms. In the fishery and farm, observe the crocodile watching a newborn hippopotamus and a calf being dragged through the water for cows to feed a river. The chapel contains a false door painted in granite, scenes of bulls and buffaloes being sacrificed, and Idut herself. It was the daughter of Pharaoh Unas, whose pyramid stands directly behind the mastaba of Nebet, his queen. Also worth seeing are the reliefs in Nebet’s mastaba: Nebet smells a lotus flower in one scene. The pyramid of Unas at the end of the dam looks like a pile of rubble from the front but has many facing stones on the back, some of which are decorated with hieroglyphics. Inside, the walls are covered with pyramid texts on which the Egyptian Book of the Dead is based. The tomb of the two brothers belonging to Niankh-Khnum and Khnum-hotep. Two officials of the V dynasty kiss each other and perform various activities together. They were probably brothers and possibly twins rather than gay couples, as their families are also depicted in the tomb. The nearby tomb of Nefer is smaller and less interesting. The one of Ruka-Ptah has no light if the janitor can be persuaded to open it. So you will need a flashlight.v


The Mestaba of Mereruka

The largest tomb on the street belongs to Mereruka, Teti’s vizier and son-in-law, whose 32-room complex includes separate burial suites for his wife Water-khet-hor, priestess of Hathor, and their son Meri-Teti. Mereruka is shown playing a board game and painting at an easel in the entrance passage. The chamber beyond shows him hunting in the marshes with Water-khet-hor (the frogs, birds, hippos, and grasshoppers are beautifully rendered), along with the usual agricultural scenes. Goldsmiths, jewelers, and other artisans are inspected by the couple in a room behind the back door, which leads to another chamber listing taxation and punishment of defaulters. Behind the transverse hall with its burial shaft, false door, and reliefs for treading and harvesting grapes is the main sacrificial hall, dominated by a statue of Mereruka emerging from a false door. The opposite wall shows his funeral procession; around the corner are boats under full sail with monkeys playing in their rigging. To the statue’s left, Mereruka is supported by his sons and litter bearers, accompanied by dwarves and dogs. On the other side, children cavort while dancers cavort above the door in Meri-Teti’s undecorated burial chamber.


The Mastaba of Ti

This V dynasty tomb, discovered by Auguste Mariette in 1865, is a rich source of information about life in the ancient Kingdom. A royal barber who entered an advantageous marriage, Ti acquired the management of several funerary temples and pyramids, and his children bore the title of “royal descendant.” Ti appears on both sides of the door for the first time, receives offerings, and asks visitors to respect his tomb. All these passageways are decorated with impressive reliefs. Look through one of the openings, and you will see the casts of his statue in their serdab. The original is in the Egyptian Museum. A cluster of III Dynasty tombs east of Tis Mastaba is now considered the likely site of Imhotep’s tomb, which remains undiscovered.


History of the construction of the pyramid of Djoser

The erection of the tomb for the pharaoh was his chati – the supreme ruler, a poet, and a scientist, the famous architect Imhotep. Pharaoh Djoser’s tomb was designed initially as a mastaba – a typical tomb of rulers at that time. It should be cubic in the form of flat walls. Only the material of execution was planned to be innovative. The architect decided to use stone instead of traditional raw brick. And only in the process of work the master came to the shape of steps: they symbolized the ascent of the ruler after his death to heaven. Researchers assume that the pharaoh himself wanted something unusual and grandiose for his tomb. Among scientists, there is a version that the tomb of Djoser finished building in several approaches because the ruler was dissatisfied with the result every time. Steps are a reflection of staged correction, “growing” the tomb. Imhotep found just such decision of a difficult problem, having put thus the beginning of a tradition of great pyramids.


Architectural features of the tomb

The entire funerary complex is walled and occupies an area of 15 hectares, on which other religious buildings were located. The essence of the structure of the main monument is the classical mastabas, stacked on top of each other in a stepped pyramidal form. The dimensions of Djoser’s tomb are not the most grandiose compared to the dimensions of subsequent pyramids. The height is about 62 m, length and width are 125 m by 115 m. But for that period, the scale of the tomb was impressive. And the design of the six tiers was daring and revolutionary. If to express ourselves in modern language, we can reasonably declare that the pyramid of Djoser is the first skyscraper of Ancient Egypt. Interestingly, the wind and sand only slightly “adjusted” the tomb’s design – for such a long period, its dimensions have not changed much. “Everything in the world is afraid of time, and time is afraid of the pyramids,” the Arabic proverb truly says.


The mysteries of the Pyramid of Djoser’s tomb

The fact that nobody of the pharaoh was found in the Pyramid of Djoser stirs the imagination of the proponents of mystical theories. Another inexplicable feature of the tomb is the deep and wide shaft with a domed sarcophagus inside the pyramid. The true purpose of this chamber is still unexplained, and it is not clear what treasure it was intended for.


There are several other features of the Pyramid of Djoser:

  • The tomb has 11 chambers for the repose of the ruler’s wives and children.
  • Underground tunnels are more than 5 km long (by the way, in other pyramids, they are measured only in meters).
  • Presence of a stone ritual house behind the Pyramid of Djoser.


What is important to remember about the Pyramid of Djoser

Unfortunately, the city of Saqqara has no tourist infrastructure at all. After sightseeing, you should not even count on a light snack in a cafe – there is simply no such place. Therefore, take care of food and water in advance. The whole territory of the site is still an area of archaeological excavations. It is not safe to enter the pyramid, and even officially banned. Local workers offer to take tourists inside the Pyramid of Djoser for a fee. But it is illegal and can be dangerous for health and life. Come to Egypt and do not miss the chance to enjoy one of the dream Egypt round trips.

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