College of Communication and Fine Arts Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology
Saqqara - Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser

Step Pyramid


The Step Pyramid of King Djoser.

The Step Pyramid was designed for King Djoser (Dynasty 3) by his vizier Imhotep. The pyramid is located at Saqqara, the main necropolis of ancient Memphis. The multiple uraei (plural of uraeus, a rearing cobra with a spread hood), on the left in the foreground, are divine protectors of the king. The view is across the South Court.

The Step Pyramid is the first known monumental structure made of stone anywhere in the world. As its name suggests, it is a series of six levels of stone decreasing in size as they ascend to about 200 feet/60 meters in height. Until this time, mastabas had been the principal form of tomb architecture. A mastaba (Arabic for "bench") is a low rectangular structure which was built over a shaft which descended to the burial location. The Step Pyramid originally began as a mastaba, and it may have been visualized as a series of mastaba shapes, decreasing in size, stacked one on top of another. Whatever the origin, it creates an impressive geometrical form rising from the floor of the desert.


Step Pyramid Complex


The Step Pyramid and Heb Sed (Jubilee) Court.

The buildings in the Heb Sed court are dummy structures build of limestone. It was meant to serve the spirit of the king in the afterlife.

The Jubilee Court is located to the southeast of the Step Pyramid. On the west side of the court (pictured here) are "dummy" buildings which replicate the shape of canonical shrines of Upper Egypt. On the east side of the court are buildings which replicate the shrines of Lower Egypt. Note the base of a double throne kiosk for the king (as ruler of the two parts of Egypt) in the left center (south end of court).


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Saqqara


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Last Updated: 1/23/12