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.
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
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Page last updated on Thu Mar 18 15:04:28 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)
Step Pyramid on gei.aerobaticsweb.org