Step Pyramid of King Djoser

06 day egypt tour

Step pyramid of king Djoser
The Step Pyramid is Egypt’s oldest pyramid, and it is clear that King Djoser
and his genius architect Imhotep did not plan to build a pyramid from the
outset. Rather, they first built a monumental stone mastaba. This was
already equipped with an entrance that led into the subterranean passages
of the tomb. This alone would have already been one of, if not the oldest,
fully stone monumental structure in the world. However, an efficient
bureaucratic system, and a growing experience with building in stone
meant that the mastaba was expanded into an even larger one that was
large enough to cover the original northern entrance. The larger mastaba
itself eventually grew several stages later into the magnificent -6ometer
high monument that we see today.
The substructure of Djoser’s tomb was made to rival its awe-inspiring
superstructure. The new entrance replacing the old one leads into a
veritable labyrinth of shafts and underground passages. These are reached
through a trench that begins in the floor of the mortuary temple of the Step
Pyramid complex, which lies against the north face of the pyramid. Several
of the subterranean passages lead down to the bottom of the great central
shaft 28 meters below the earth. This is the burial chamber, King Djoser’s
final resting place. Other passages were used to store food and drink for the
deceased king, and likely also many of his belongings including jewelry. The
west wall of one of the corridors was magnificently decorated with
bluegreen faience tiles laid out in rows, simulating the pattern found on a
structure that was made of reed matting. This chamber represents the
king’s private apartments for eternity, and may also be mimicking his actual
royal palace in life. Three limestone panels are decorated with relief
depicting Djoser visiting shrines and performing the ritual run that was a
part of the Sed Festival, a royal jubilee through which the king regenerated
his power. No other royal tomb would be this substantially decorated until
the reign of King Unas (c.2345-2375 BC), the last king of the Fifth Dynasty.
The Step Pyramid underwent an extensive conservation project
undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities that lasted 2006 to
2020, during which its substructure was restored as well.

North Entrance of The Step Pyramid
The Step Pyramid, the tomb of the Third Dynasty king Djoser (c.2648-2667
BC), currently has two entrances. Unlike the south entrance, which was
made around 2,000 years after the pyramid was built, during the Twenty
sixth Dynasty (525-664 BC), the entrance on the north side dates to Djoser’s

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