The Step Pyramid

The Sakkara step pyramid was ancient Egypt’s first stone building.  Designed by Imhotep, an innovative architect who later was worshipped.  The extensive cemetery was used from early Dynastic to the Graeco-Roman periods, more than 3,000 years, but was especially important during the Old Kingdom (2686-2160BCE).

From 3,000 BCE onwards civil servants working in Memphis, Egypt’s first capital city, built mud brick mastabas tombs in the Sakkara cemetery.   Smaller tombs were around the larger ones, most likely for the servants of the deceased.

The step pyramid was designed for Djoser, second king of the third dynasty, made of limestone from a local quarry.  Imhotep built a square mastaba with its corners oriented to the four compass points, this was extended upward until it became a six step pyramid.

A shaft descends from the center of the original mastaba to Djoser’s burial chamber.  A warren of corridors and rooms surround the chamber.  More than 36,000 curved bue-green faience tiles replicated the walls of  Djoser’s palace.

Around the step, pyramid was an enclosure, defined by a massive wall of limestone with 14 false doors designed to confound tomb robbers. 

In the later Old Kingdom (Dynasty 4 – 6) the landscape of Sakkara was expanded with a series of smaller pyramids built by kings wishing to be close to Djoser.