According to history, King Djoser is famous many for two reasons. Foremost, for saving Egyptians from a seven-year famine by rebuilding the Temple of Khnum, the god of the Nile River’s source. The second, which is seen by the Egyptian as more important, is his Step Pyramid at Saqqara – the first pyramid built in Egypt under the guidance of famous architect Imhotep.
The pyramid was the tallest structure during the time it was built. The building comprises of Djoser’s burial chamber and was built solely out of stone rather than mud bricks, making it the earliest important stone building in Egypt. It was during the reign of Djoser that Egypt witnessed great technological advancements in the use of stone architecture, according to records.
On the other hand, King Djoser, also called Netjerikhet, Tosorthos, and Sesorthos, was the first king of the Third Dynasty of Egypt, who reigned for almost thirty years, ensuring Egypt was politically and economically stable. Although, history didn’t account for much of his youth life as he is believed to have succeeded his father, Khasekhemwy – the last king of the Second Dynasty. Married to Hetephernebti, Djoser’s mother was the queen Nimaathap.
Upon his coronation, he began commissioning his building projects. According to historian Margaret Bunson, Djoser “ruled during an age witnessing advances in civilization on the Nile such as the building of architectural monuments, agricultural developments, trade, and the advancement of the cities.”
Even though cities had been developed before Djoser, his reign birthed more cities and architectural masterpieces which had never been seen before in the land. His Step Pyramid at Saqqara, built by skilled Egyptian laborers and craftsmen, is an example of such a project.
History accounts that before Djoser assumed power, Egyptian kings were buried in mastabas which were rectangular tombs built above underground chambers rising at most 20 feet high. Djoser’s Step Pyramid, however, is “a series of mastabas stacked on each other, while each level is a little smaller than the one beneath, to form the shape of a pyramid.
The Step Pyramid, which has been renovated and was commissioned early this year, was 62 meters high when it was completed. The ancient pyramid is located outside the royal capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site south of modern Cairo. The Pyramid’s surrounding complex includes shrines for royal rituals, a temple, courtyards, and living quarters for priests.
Prior to the Step Pyramid, Djoser had already been hailed as a saviour when a famine broke out in Egypt. For seven years, no solution was found to the problem of the land until Djoser had a dream in which the god Khnum of the Nile River’s source complained to him that his time on the island of Elephantine was in a poor state.
Under the counsel of his chief minister and vizier Imhotep, Djoser built a new temple and once it was done, the famine seized. As part of measures to ensure his country’s stability, Djoser extended Egypt’s power all the way south to Aswan, and north to Sinai largely through military expeditions.
Defeating the Libyans in the battlefield and claiming part of their lands, his military victories were among some of his greatest achievements. Most of his contributions have largely been forgotten, but not his final resting place – the Step Pyramid – which is not only a monument to his life and reign but among a flurry of amazing architectural wonders of Egypt that continues to attract tourists from all over the world.