Step Pyramid and Funerary Complex of King Djoser

Step Pyramid and Funerary Complex of King Djoser

Architect Imhotep

Date ca. 2681-2662 BCE

Movement Egyptian | Old Kingdom | 3rd Dynasy

Dimensions Mastaba height 204′

Location Saqqara, Egypt


This complex in the necropolis of Memphis marks the first large scale funerary complex to be constructed in ancient Egypt. Its mastermind, Imhotep, is credited as history’s first known architect for its design and undertaking. Barred from the rest of Saqqara by a 33’ limestone wall, the complex was meant to replicate the palace in which Djoser once lived. Though made of limestone to endure eternity, these walls were purposefully worn so that they could resemble the mud brick that would have been used for the king’s everyday palace. We also see on these walls some of the very first examples of column capitals to resemble vegetation—a common theme to recur for millennia to come.

The Pharaoh’s serdab faces North, giving the dead king and his ka the ability to see the offerings placed by the living in the funerary temple, along with the constellations in the Northern sky.  The complex walls, though made of limestone to endure eternity, were worn to resemble the mud brick that would have been used in the king’s everyday palace.