the step pyramid of zoser,sakkara,egypt

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INTORDUCTIONPyramid of Zoser

World's tallest structure c. 2650 BCE2610BCE 62 m

CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORYDjosers Pyramid draws ideas from several precedents. The most relevant precedent is found at Saqqara mastaba 3038. It was built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by his vizier Imhotep, during the 27th century BC. In prehistoric times a heap of sand was placed over the graves of the deceased who were laid out in simple burial pits. By the time of the earliest pharaohs these pits had, in the case of rulers at any rate, evolved into whole suites of underground compartments and the mound had become a rectangular structure of mud-brick (By the end of the Early Dynastic Period at least, it was customary to build a large mud-brick enclosure, now known as a mortuary palace, to go along with the tomb. This would have been used for some of the funeral rites and for the ongoing offerings to sustain the soul of the dead king. Imhoteps plan, as it eventually worked out, was to combine the two separate structures into one enormous complex


1. Map of Lower Egypt, showing location of Saqqara 2. Axonometric reconstruction of Precinct of Djoser 3. The Chamber of Blue Tiles 4. Plan of Precinct of Djoser 5. Entry hall viewed from the south west 6. Reconstruction of entry hall 7. Processional way 8. East portico, Hall of Columns 9. Stepped pyramid and Heb-Sed Court 10. Heb-Sed Court 11. House of the North (east side), with engaged columns (papyrus stalks) 12. Statues in the east court 13. Schematic drawing of successive pyramid construction stages 14. Reconstruction by Firth of south tomb chamber 15. Inscription depicting Djoser

ARCHITECTIMHOTEPHe is considered to be the first architect ,engineer, and physician in early history. The full list of his titles is: Chancellor of the King of Egypt, Doctor, First in line after the King of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Great Palace, Hereditary nobleman, High Priest of Heliopolis, Builder, Chief Carpenter, Chief Sculptor, and Maker of Vases in Chief.

PHYSICAL ANALYSISThe original structure was an underground burial chamber. This chamber was rare in that it was square; most mastabas were rectangular. The royal tomb is 28m underground with a vertical shaft leading to it.

PROPORTIONSThe superstructure of the Step Pyramid is six steps, as might be expected with an experimental structure.The pyramid began as a square mastaba (one should note that this designation as a mastaba is contended for several reasons) (M1) which was gradually enlarged, first evenly on all four sides (M2) and later just on the east side (M3)[9]. The mastaba was built up in two stages, first to form a fourstepped structure (P1) and then to form a sixstepped structure (P2), which now had a rectangular base on an east-west axis.The main excavator of the Step Pyramid was Jean-Phillipe Lauer, a French architect who reconstructed key portions of the complex. The complex covers 15ha and is about 2.5 times as large as the Old Kingdom town of Heirakonpolis. Several features of the complex differ from those of later Old Kingdom pyramids. The pyramid temple is situated at the north side of the pyramid, whereas in later pyramids it is on the east side. Also, the Djoser complex is built on a NorthSouth axis whereas later complexes utilize an EastWest axis[6]. Furthermore, the Djoser complex has one niched enclosure wall, whereas later pyramids have two enclosure walls with the outside one being smooth and the inside one sometimes niched.


Djosers Step Pyramid complex has several structures pivotal to its function in both life and the afterlife. Several are discussed below with attention paid to function and form. The pyramid was not simply a grave in ancient Egypt. Its purpose was to facilitate a successful afterlife for the king so that he could be eternally reborn. The symbolism of the step pyramid form, which did not survive the 3rd Dynasty, is unknown, but it has been suggested that it may be a monumental symbol of the crown, especially the royal mortuary cult, since seven small step pyramids (not tombs) were built in the provinces.


The roofed colonnade led from the enclosure wall to the south of the complex. A passageway with a limestone ceiling constructed to look as though it was made from whole tree trunks led to a massive stone imitation of two open doors. Beyond this portal was a hall with twenty pairs of limestone columns composed of drum shaped segments built to look like bundles of plant stems and reaching a height of 6.6 m.The columns were not free-standing, but were attached to the wall by masonry projections. Between the columns on both sides of the hall were small chambers, which some Egyptologists propose may have been for each of the provinces of Upper and Lower Egypt. At the end of the colonnade was the transverse hypostyle room with eight columns connected in pairs by blocks of limestone.


The burial chamber was a vault constructed of four courses of well-dressed granite. It had one opening, which was sealed with a 3.5 ton block after the burial. No body was recovered as the tomb had been extensively robbed. A burial chamber of alabaster existed before the one of granite.Interesting evidence of limestone blocks has been found with five pointed stars in low relief that were likely on the ceiling, indicating the first occurrence of what would become a tradition. The king sought to associate himself with the eternal North Stars that never set so as to ensure his rebirth and eternity.


The work involved was enormous. It has been estimated that a total of 850,000 tons of stone would have been needed more than four times the material required for the first version. The courses were not laid horizontally but rather in a series of buttresses, inclined inwards at an angle of 75. This greatly increased the stability of the finished structure by reducing the amoun of lateral stress (Figure 3). The core of the structure was made out of small blocks of limestone quarried on the site, encased in fine, white Tura Limestone quarried across the river. The successive changes to the superstructure also involved some remodelling of the substructure of the tomb. Originally, this consisted of a vertical shaft 7 x 7 metres which was sunk to a depth of 8.5 metres and a passage running away from it to the north, beyond the edge of the mastaba. At some point, presumably when the first pyramid was planned, the decision was taken to continue the main shaft to a depth of 28 metres. To gain access, the floor of the passageway was also quarried away to create a stairway, stopping at a point about 9 metres from the bottom of the shaft. It ran right up to the surface but, when the pyramid was enlarged, the entrance was covered. So in the end, a much smaller tunnel was dug, swinging around in a broad curve from the passage to a courtyard of the Mortuary Temple (Figure 4). The Burial Chamber was simply a box made out of slabs of pink granite to form a small oblong room about 3 x 1.7 metres and 1.7 metres high. .


The Djoser complex is surrounded by a wall of light Tura limestone. The entrance ceiling is a simulation of a roof made from split logs. .The stones that are used are different from the huge stones used in the pyramids at Giza, in that they are small in size.


.After reaching its peak in Dynasty IV, the pyramid industry was gradually wound down. The pharaohs of Dynasties V & VI continuted to build them but on a much reduced scale. Instead, much of the activity was diverted (as far as the visible record shows) to the tombs of private individuals.

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