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Pharaoh Djoser and the Step Pyramid

Updated: Oct 30, 2020


The mastabas of officials from the previous dynasties had lined the edge of the plateau at Saqqara, overlooking Memphis from the West. Djoser decided to move his monument back from the plateau's edge by about a mile before building his mastaba. Originally, this project was a normal mastaba, however, his architect and vizier, Imhotep, enlarged the mastaba several times while stacking mastaba on top of mastaba. What he created was the first stone building in history which consisted of six unequal steps rising to 204 feet. Known as the Step Pyramid, this temple complex also had a substructure of honeycomb shafts and tunnels.

This construction was probably three or four times larger than any other building on the planet at the time. Here, Djoser built chapels and planned a complex intended for use as a courtyard for the Heb-sed and other rituals. The Heb-sed festival celebrated the rejuvenation of the aging pharaoh every thirty years. When observing the decoration details for this temple complex, one can see that the stone imitates the reed construction techniques from previous temples in the past. The fine fluting on the columns immediately call to the mind the Greek Doric column, but this comes an amazing 2000 years later.


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