Friday, April 09, 2004

Saqqara and Step Pyramid of Zoser

Saqqara, the huge cemetery of ancient Memphis, was an active burial ground for more than 3500 years. The necropolis is situated high above the Nile Valley's cultivation area, covering 7km stretch of the Western Desert. Deceased pharaohs and their families, administrators, generals and sacred animals were all interred here.

The star attraction here is Zoser's Funerary Complex, dominated by the world's first decent attempt at a pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Zoser. The mortuary complex around the step pyramid is 544m long and 277m wide and there is a lot to explore. A part of the 10m high enclosure wall with bastions survived and is restored. In the wall were many false doors, so the spirit of Zoser could come and go. For the living people is only one entrance from where you can reach the Great South Court. Further are the Houses of the South and the North, the serdab and the mortuary temple.

The Step Pyramid of King Zoser is the earliest stone structure ever built, in Egypt and also the world. The brilliant architect Imhotep, also first minister and doctor of Zoser, constructed the pyramid in 2675 BC. His way of construction was new and a break with traditions to build royal tombs as undergroud rooms. This pyramid became the inspiration and the start for the future architectural achievements and building of pyramids in Egypt.

Tip: Admission fee is EGP 20 (EGP 10 for ISIC holder)

At the entrance to the complex Hypostyle Hall, part of reconstructed Enclosure Wall

Rear of the Hypostyle Hall entrance

Step Pyramid of Zoser

A stone structure in front of the pyramid, Serdab contains life-size, lifelike painted status of Zoser within a slightly tilted wooden box with 2 holes drilled into its north face.

Two sets of semi-circles, shaped like our letter B, are positioned at some distance from each other in the south court. They symbolize the boundaries of Egypt. During the Heb Sed festival, the King would run between the two structures, thus confirming his reign over everything that lay between the boundaries of his country.

One of the shrines around the Heb-Sed (Jubilee) Court


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