Egypt Travel Guide – The Step Pyramids at Sakkara

The Step Pyramid at Sakkara

Step Pyramid at Saqqara in Egypt was intended to hold the mummified body of the king Djoser who was responsible for building the same. Initially the pyramid depicted a traditional, flat roofed mastaba. But when the 19 years long reign of the pharaoh ended the pyramid has rose to six step layers and it then stood at 204 feet above the ground level. People say that it was the largest building during that time.

The pyramid was made by the exclusive use of stone which was carved in a manner that it resembled wood, reeds and other softer materials. This choice of building material made this tomb more durable than others which were made with mud bricks. The use of pioneering techniques in the making of this pyramid made ancient historians praise Imhotep for his architectural knowledge and for the invention of stone architecture.

Complex of the pyramid

The complex of the step pyramid was covered by a wall which was 30 feet in height. Also inside the complex were courtyards, temples and chapels spread over an area of around 40 acres, the size in which a large town was constructed during the third millennium BC. The burial chamber in the step pyramid was underground and was hidden in a tunnel maze which was done to prevent the grave robbers from robbing this place off its riches. Even such safety did not leave the tomb from getting robbed many times and what remains today is just the mummified left foot of King Djoser who ruled in Egypt during the third dynasty.

A rare fact

An interesting fact about the step pyramid of Saqqara which most people do not know is that Imhotep who was the architect, priest, physician and founder of the cult of healing was not recognized for his talent and knowledge until after 1400 years of his demise.

More about the pyramid

The Great Sphinx, or as the ancients knew it, “Shesib Ankh” or “the living image”, has to be one of the most recognizable constructions in history. Think of the Sphinx and you automatically think of Egypt and the Giza Plateau. Sculpted from soft sandstone, many believe that it would have disappeared long ago had it not been buried in the sand for so many long periods in its lifetime. The body is 60m (200ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Its face is 4m (13ft) wide with eyes measuring 2m (6 ft) high. It faces the rising sun, and was revered so much by the ancients, that they built a temple in front of it.

The pyramid of Saqqara lies close to the city of Cairo and the structure is the first major representation of stone architecture ever done. Most part of the outer casing of the pyramid has now gone, in some places the core masonry is also missing; the structure shows different stages of construction with the eastern side offering the best view of all.

The burial chamber was rare in the sense that it was made in square shape unlike most others which were rectangular. The royal tomb is located 28 meter below the ground level and a vertical shaft leads to the same, the entrance to this was sealed with a 3 ton piece of granite. The construction seems to have taken place in three stages and it was only after this phase that the true step pyramid began to construct.

The pyramid today

It’s said that over 200,000 tons of stone were used to make the additional two tiers that went above the existing two-tiered structure. An additional two tiers were added above the existing four to make it into the six-tiered pyramid, as it can be seen today. A Tura limestone face was added on. A statue of Djoser was found intact the building which is still on display at the Museum of Cairo.