The Ancient Egyptians started out burying their kings below platforms called Mastabas. They became more elaborate with time by putting a smaller platform on top of a larger one. They ended up with the Step Pyramid. The next step was to make these buildings with smooth walls, the regular pyramids.

Imhotep, the chief architect of the Pharaoh Djoser (2667 - 2648 BCE), built Djoser's Funerary Complex with the Step Pyramid in 2650 BCE. This pyramid is the world's oldest stone monument. It is 60 m (200 ft) high and was encased in white limestone. The whole complex was enclosed by a 10 m (30 ft) high wall. On the entrance side of the Step Pyramid is an enclosure with a hole for viewing the inside. Through that hole you can see a life sized statue of Pharaoh Djoser. It is a very impressive view.

Around the Step Pyramid are several other pyramids in much worse shape. One of them is the Pyramid of Unas, (2375 - 2345 BCE), the last Pharaoh of the 5th Dynasty. It was build about 300 years after the Step Pyramid. It is significant in that it marks the beginning of the tradition to paint the burial chambers. Before that, the burial chambers were not decorated at all. Later they were lavishly painted.

One of the buildings in the complex has the oldest known tourist graffiti. It was written on the wall of the building in the 47th year of the reign of Ramesses II, in 1232 BCE, nearly 1500 years after Djoser's death by Hadnakhte, a treasury scribe. He expressed his admiration for Pharaoh Djoser while on a pleasure trip from Memphis. It was written in black ink in hieratic script.

The Step Pyramid is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur.

All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.

Step Pyramid

View Djoser's Funerary Complex
View of Djoser's Funerary Complex with the Step Pyramid in the background. (668k)
View Over South Court
View over the South Court towards the Step Pyramid. (667k)
Step Pyramid Pharaoh Djoser
The Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser. (845k)
Close-up Step Pyramid
Close-up of the Step Pyramid. (1193k)
View Entrance Burial Chamber
View of the entrance to the burial chamber in the Step Pyramid. (571k)
View Djoser's Stature Peep
View of Djoser's stature through the peep hole in the box that encloses his statue. (480k)
Entrance Gate Funerary Complex
Entrance gate to the Funerary Complex of Pharaoh Djoser. (681k)
Column Colonnade Entrance Complex
Column colonnade entrance to the complex. These columns are Bundle Columns, ribbed to resemble bundles of papyrus stems. (643k)
Detail Columns
Detail of some of the columns. (526k)
Detail Bundle Column
Detail of a bundle column. (645k)
Partly Surviving Enclosure Wall
Partly surviving enclosure wall around the South Court. (607k)
Part Funerary Complex Buildings
Part of the funerary complex buildings. (642k)
Graffiti 1232 Bce
Graffiti from 1232 BCE. (741k)
Pyramid Unas First Pyramid
Pyramid of Unas, the first pyramid with a decorated burial chamber. (523k)
View Tombs Along Causeway
View of the tombs along the causeway of Unas, with the Unas Pyramid in the background. (1012k)
Remains Pyramid Teti 2345
Remains of the Pyramid of Teti (2345 - 2323 BCE). Like Unas' Pyramid it had a decorated burial chamber. It had the first example of a sarcophagus with inscriptions. (492k)
Remains Pyramid Userkaf
Remains of the Pyramid of Userkaf. (696k)
View Three Pyramids Step
View of three pyramids from the Step Pyramid. (555k)
Red Pyramid Bent Pyramid
The Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid in the distance, with a Mastaba halfway in the distance. (501k)

This page contains 19 pictures

Here are the links to the other pages on Egypt:

Today's Egypt People in Egypt
Nature in Egypt
Birds in Egypt
Birds in Egypt
Ancient Egypt Egypt
Mytholopy in Ancient Egypt
Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

Page last updated on Thu Mar 18 15:04:28 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)

Step Pyramid on

© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn

*Dr. Günther Eichhorn Travel Website
*Soaring website