Pyramid Complex of Djoser

The Pyramid Complex of Djoser or Step Pyramid (kbhw-ntrw in Egyptian) Complex is an archeological site in the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt, northwest of the city of Memphis. Djoser was King of Upper and Lower Egypt in ca. 2680 BCE. Djoser was a king early in the 3rd dynasty. The construction and development of the pyramid complex is generally attributed to the architect Imhotep.

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circa 2650 BCE

The 6-tier, 4-sided structure is the earliest colossal stone building in Egypt. It was built in the 27th century BC during the Third Dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier, Imhotep. The pyramid is the central feature of a vast mortuary complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration. The complex is orientated North and South in length.

circa 2650 BCE

The Djoser complex is surrounded by a wall of light Tura limestone 10.5 m (34 ft) high. The wall design recalls the appearance of 1st Dynasty tombs, with the distinctive paneled construction known as the palace façade, which imitates bound bundles of reeds. The overall structure imitates mudbrick. This arrangement resembles Early Dynastic funerary enclosures at Abydos in which the entrance was on the east side. The remaining doors are known as false doors, and were meant for the king's use in the afterlife.

circa 2650 BCE

This roofed colonnade led from the enclosure wall to the south of the complex. A passageway with a limestone ceiling constructed to look as though it was made from whole tree trunks led to a massive stone imitation of two open doors. Beyond this portal was a hall with twenty pairs of limestone columns composed of drum shaped segments built to look like bundles of plant stems and reaching a height of 6.6 m (22 ft). The columns were not free-standing, but were attached to the wall by masonry projections (inspect).

circa 2650 BCE

The South Court is a large court between the South Tomb and the pyramid. Within the court are curved stones thought to be territorial markers associated with the Heb-sed festival, an important ritual completed by Egyptian kings (typically after 30 years on the throne) to renew their powers. These would have allowed Djoser to claim control over all of Egypt,[8] while its presence in the funerary complex would allow Djoser to continue to benefit from the ritual in the afterlife.

circa 2650 BCE

The Heb-sed court is rectangular and parallel to the South Courtyard. It was meant to provide a space in which the king could perform the Heb-sed ritual in the afterlife. Flanking the east and west sides of the court are the remains of two groups of chapels, many of which are dummy buildings, of three different architectural styles. At the north and south ends there are three chapels with flat roofs and no columns. The remaining chapels on the west side are decorated with fluted columns and capitals flanked by leaves.

circa 2650 BCE

To the east of the temple is the serdab ("celler"), which is a small enclosed structure that housed the ka statue. The king's ka inhabited the ka statue, in order to benefit from daily ceremonies like the opening of the mouth, a ceremony that allowed him to breathe and eat, and the burning of incense. He witnessed these ceremonies through two small eye holes cut in the north wall of the serdab.

circa 2650 BCE

The South Tomb has been likened to the satellite pyramids of later Dynasties, and has been proposed to house the ka in the afterlife. Another proposal is that it may have held the canopic jar with the king's organs, but this does not follow later trends where the canopic jar is found in the same place as the body. The substructure of the South Tomb is entered through a tunnel-like corridor with a staircase that descends about 30 m before opening up into the pink granite burial chamber.

circa 2650 BCE

Unlike most structures in Djoser's complex which were filled with rubble, the T Temple had interior rooms where the Pharaoh could prepare himself for rituals and ceremonies.

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