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Djoser's Complex Djoser's Complex
Photo courtesy of The Egypt Archive

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.

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
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 hypostyleWhat does it mean? 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):

Step pyramid:
The step pyramid was built for King Djoser (Also Netjerykhet or Zoser or Tosorthos) of the 3rd dynasty by his chief architect ImhotepWho is this deity? 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 mastabasWhat does it mean?, 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.

Image 4
Image 5

The Heb-SedWhat does it mean? court:
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 nichesWhat does it mean? 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

Image 6
Image 7

feature engaged columns with papyrusWhat does it mean? columns, symbolizing Lower Egypt, while those of the southern shrine feature capitals with lotus capitals, symbolizing Upper Egypt.

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 KaWhat does it mean?, and from the holes Ka was supposed to take place in the offerings presented before it.

Source: Lehner, Complete Pyramids, p. 84-85.

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