The Step Pyramid at Saqqara

If you saw the Step Pyramid in Saqqara, Egypt, you would immediately know how it got it’s name.  This is a very unique pyramid in Egypt that was designed in a set of six steps.  It was designed this way by the pharaoh Djoser’s vizier Imhotep.  It was designed in a way that resembled tombs of king’s past stacked on top of one another in a sort of staircase to the heavens.  The steps of the pyramid form “benches” or mastaba towards the top.  Each level of the pyramid gets gradually less steep as it gets closer to the top.  The two bottom levels of the pyramid are square mastaba, a method that had never been used previously. After the first two levels, the design returns back to rectangular, which was the norm at the time.

The pyramid itself and its surroundings

The pyramid itself and its surroundings

On the outside there lies a massive wall that extends for about a mile in perimeter around the pyramid.  This wall forms a giant courtyard with the main entrance of the southeastern side.  There is a giant entrance hall facing the south side of the main pyramid where the king’s remains were buried.  Several “false entrances” were also made along the outside of the wall.  These were intended for use by the king is his afterlife.  Outside of that wall, lies a giant forty meter wide trench, which was believed to be another form of defense for the pyramid.  The only remaining actual part of the king himself was a mummified foot.

Like many tombs of that era, the infrastructure of this pyramid is a series of mazes and paths throughout.  The entrance to the inside was located on the north side of the pyramid, a tradition that was carried out for many years in ancient Egypt.  These paths through the inside lead to many remains of people of the royal family as well as many possessions and offerings .  Several of the passages were sealed off as the pyramid grew.  This, along with creating intricate mazes, were intended to differ grave-robbers from invading the tomb.  Their efforts were futile, and many new paths were created in order to plunder the tomb.  There have been many stone vases and other items found within the tomb.  The extensive use of stone in the pyramid made it much more durable than the previous buildings made of mud-brick, causing many entities of the pyramid to be preserved much better than things of the past.

The Step Pyramid of Saqqara is a very distinctive landmark, and surely a must-see for anyone interested in pyramids.  It was a significant part of the Egyptian culture and redefined the way people think of pyramids with it’s unprecedented design.


2 thoughts on “The Step Pyramid at Saqqara

  1. The unprecedented nature of the design leads me to wonder how it was received by the Egyptian community at the time. It seems to be a blend of old concepts and new ideas – it had mastabas, but they were stacked. It had high walls, but the tomb was visible over them. I wonder how everyone thought of it – was it scandalous to break from hundreds of years of tradition? Was it subject to the same controversy as the new art museum here on campus – some considering it “pretty cool,” while others view it as a “monstrosity?” Were the religious figures of the time happy that the Pharaoh was making himself out to be more important than the others who came before him? Or did he just not die soon enough, so the builders just kept putting things together? The background and story of such a revolutionary icon would be fascinating to know more about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like popular response and personal opinions were written about very much in that day, so we don’t have much information about the building’s reception. Perhaps representatives of other cultures, who saw it, would have written about it because they had never seen anything like it. All in all, an interesting break from the norm. it’s a pity that we don’t know what people thought of it!

  2. wow, i just love Pyramid topic and stuff. This is another Pyramid i have been to when i was in the trip to go to Egypt in 2008. It is very nice to get so many detailed knowledge from this post. This kind of Pyramid is older than what we usually see as Egyptian symbol Pyramid–The Gizza Pyramid, perhaps the oldest Pyramid in Egypt. And i just want to add little more history story about this Pyramid. This Pyramid was designed for Pharaoh Zoser by Im-hotep who is a very famous person in Egyptian history. Pharaoh was the royal title that only started being used for the king during the New Zoser was the ruler of Egypt, but not actually “Pharaoh”
    He had been to Grand Vizier which is the highest-ranking official in the government. And the reason that Zoser built a Pyramid like this is that he had a dream that he was walking on the extended ladder in heaven and after waking up he ask Im-hotep to made a “tomb” that can extend to the heaven which is the Step Pyramid. Im-hotep who was born as a normal citizen had been worshiping by ancient Egyptian people to be the god of medicine.This the beginning of human interested in building Pyramid. there are so many ancient civilization that had built the Pyramid to be mostly their king’s tomb. So it is kind of culture within human civilization to love to build Pyramid. This post did a great jod, thank you and hope to learn more from other’s blogs.

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