The entrance (The enclosure):
The pyramid is surrounded by an enclosure wall that once rose
to the height of about 10 meters (33 feet) and stretched to
545 meters (1788 ft) in length and 278 meters (912 ft) in breadth
(See Image 1). Only parts of it survived to our present-day.
It was built with many regular projections and recesses to resemble
a fortified building.
Many false entrances were built in the walls, however the real
entrance is through a narrow passage to the east wall at the
southernmost tip. The ceiling of the passageway is roofed with
modern stone logs, imitating the original roof.
The passageway is followed by a corridor flanked with 40 columns,
which opens to a small hypostyle
hall that has 8 columns connected in pairs by supporting walls
(See Image 2). This in turn opens to the south court of the
enclosure (See Image 3):
The step pyramid was built for King Djoser
(Also Netjerykhet or Zoser or Tosorthos) of the 3rd
dynasty by his chief architect Imhotep
about 2700 years ago.
It is considered as a big architectural shift in ancient Egypt's
history and is indeed the first building in history. Before
that time kings were buried in mud-bricked mastabas,
or elevated level of stone building. Imhotep, however, decided
to build smaller mastabas over each other to form the six
ridges of the step pyramid, from which came its name. The
pyramid is about 63 (207 ft) meters high.
It was cased by a layer of limestone but now it's all gone.
The burial chamber is at the center of the pyramid 28 meters
(92 ft) underground and connected to the surface with a long
vertical shaft. Its entrance was blocked by a big granite
stone but in spite of that, the tomb was robed in antiquity.
Close to the center of the court are two stone structures,
possibly altars, and an altar near the step pyramid. Those
are believed to be associated with the jubilee celebration
of the king's reign.
To the extreme south of the court, in front of the entrance,
is the south tomb distinguished with a frieze of uraei (cobras)
that adorns its chapel (See Image 4). Behind the chapel is
a 28 meters-deep (92 ft) shaft with a burial vault whose function
is still puzzling archeologists, because it is too small in
size to contain human remains.
Near the corridor that leads to the Heb-Sed court is a small
temple whose role is believed to be linked to the rituals
that took place in the court. The court itself is long and
stretches on a north-south axis with stone chapels on its
sides (See Image 5).
Those are solid structures whose cores are filled with rubble.
Some of these chapels have recesses that could have been housing
statues of deities and all chapels are fronted with small
yards approached through small doorways. These shrines differ
in size and shape from each other.
In this court the jubilee celebration was taking place for
the king to rejuvenate and prove himself as a potent ruler
and thus continue his reign.
The Houses of the North and the South:
The two structures are to the east of Djoser's pyramid. These
are also solid structures filled with stone. A passageway
to each building bends twice inside the building to reach
that probably held statues.
The front walls of the shrines sports engaged columns that
has no role but for ornamental purposes. The type of columns
on the eastside of each shrine suggested the function of the
two houses. The walls of the northern shrine
feature engaged columns with papyrus
columns, symbolizing Lower Egypt, while those of the southern
shrine feature capitals with lotus capitals, symbolizing Upper
The two structures might have symbolized the rule of the
king over Egypt's two regions.
Northern temple/The serdab:
Attached to the northern side of the step pyramid is its funerary
temple, which mostly includes remnants. To the east of the
temple is the serdab which is a rectangular open court with
a building at its south. This building has its front wall
tilted and holed (See Image 6).
Inside is the statue of Djoser that is a replica for an original
one now on display in the Egyptian
museum (See Image 7). The serdab served as a residence
for the spirit of Djoser, or Ka,
and from the holes Ka was supposed to take place in the offerings
presented before it.
Source: Lehner, Complete Pyramids, p. 84-85.