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Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

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 Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

  • Funerary complex of Djoser 1 considered to be the oldest and most complete funeral complex still present on the face of the earth.
  • Saqqara tombs is the only region in Egypt that includes tombs from the beginning of Egyptian history to its end.
  • It remained in use as the main cemetery of ancient Egypt, even after the capital was moved from Memphis to Thebes, as it was considered to be one of the most sacred places to the ancient Egyptians
  • Saqqara was designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

Saqqara importance

  • Saqqara this area is considered to be a panorama of the Egyptian civilization, as it was like an open record of the entire history of Egypt, as we find in it monuments from almost all ancients time.

  • It is considered by many scholars and lovers of Egyptian antiquities, the richest archaeological area in Greater Cairo, as there are approximately 36 pyramids in it out of 138.

The funerary complex

  • The pyramid of Djoser is considered a distinct pyramid among them, all the other pyramids in this region have been affected by the factors of time in their external construction, so most of them have become a pile of sand. 

King Djoser facts

  • He was the founder of the Pharaonic Third Dynasty, which is the beginning of the ancient state.
  • He was the owner of the great cemetery in Saqqara, known as the pyramid.

  • The word Djoser is a distortion of the word prose, which means sacred, he has other titles such as “nthr kht” which meaning the body of the god, as he used it on his monuments.

  • It was fortunate for King Djoser to find during his reign  genius man with a good deal of knowledge who called Imhotep.

who designed funerary complex and stepped pyramid of djoser

Minister Imhotep

  • Imhotep's character has sparked many controversies, among history and archaeolgy scholars, Even among Hollywood filmmakers, as they found in Imhotep's character a fertile substance for making films, including the movie of The Mummy.
  • He was the first minister from the era of the ancient Egyptians, the first architectural engineer and the first doctor.

Imhotep meaning

  • His name means "He Who Comes in Peace".

  • His name became a legend that was narrated in successive generations among the Egyptians, who considered him not only an architect, but a magicianastronomer and father of medical science, as he was considered as the god of medicine in the Ptolemaic era and has a shrine in the Philae Temple in Aswan as a healing god.

  • Egyptian writers took him as an example to emulate in their scientific life, as they used to write his name before starting their writing work throughout the ages in appreciation and respect for him.

  • Imhotep has brought  a radical change in architecture, which are represented in the following points:-

(1) The use of stone on a large scale, which was not practiced before, as mud brick was the basic building material.

(2) The beginning of the cemetery becoming a pyramid.

(3) Imitation of the botanical architecture that was achieved by his predecessors in the mud brick in the stone architecture.

  • Imhotep supervised the building of the pyramid complex of King Djoser.
  • The architectural art has reached a degree of perfection when constructing (Djoser) for these complex, which relied mainly on the idea of replacing natural materials such as wood and reed with stones, whereas they used limestone for the first time.

Imhotep Tomb

  • But after the death of King Djoser, Imhotep disappeared and was buried in an unknown place.
  • Every archaeologist dreamed of finding Imhotep tomb because it contains many secrets.

Complex of king Djoser

  • Many architectural elements appeared for the first and last time was in this funerary complex.

  • There is no pyramid in Egypt without a set of architectural elements accompanying it called pyramid complex such as the wives' pyramids, the valley temple, the funerary temple and the ascending way which connect the pyramid with the funerary temple.
  • But in King Djoser's complex the matter was different, as it consist of long hall, a southern cemetery and a house  Changing the clothes, the coronation hall, the North House and the South House, for this reason it was called the funeral complex, not the pyramid complex.

  • It is considered to be the oldest and most complete funeral complex still present on the face of the earth.

  • The stones which used in this complex are different from the huge stones used in the pyramids at Giza, as they are smaller.

Enclosure walls

  • Surrounding the funerary complex of the pyramid of King Djoser, a huge wall of white limestone rectangular  with entries and exits, it was used as:-
  • perhaps to enter and exit the soul of the deceased from it.

Funerary Complex of Djoser 1


  • for the rays of the sun to be broken on it, this shape gives an aesthetic view, as when the light falls on it, it creates shadows
  • In the wall, there are 14 gates, including 13 false doors and one real gate in the south-eastern side, It is most likely that it was always open, as no trace of the presence of a door was found in the entrance recess.

The Entrance

  • The entire entrance is a representation of the royal palace of King Djoser, so that the king does not feel alienated in the other world and life after death.

  • The entrance ceiling is a simulation of a roof made from split logs. 
  • Above the door there is a guard room.

  • There is an opening on the right that leads to the funeral complex without going through the colonnade.

  • The stones here are polished very soft, elaborate, and there is no material to link the stones although it was the first time to build with stone, Where the use of limestone in construction in that time was a great civilization leap.
  • The entrance doors opened inward, where there were traces of the gaps in which the axis of the doors was rotating.

Colonnade of  funerary complex

Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

  • It consists of  20 pairs of engaged columns, between the columns are 24 small chambers.
  • The columns were not made of one piece but rather blocks on top of each other.

  • These columns represent a bundle of papyrus stems, depicted as, they were dipped from the bottom in a clay base and tied from the top so that the diameter of the columns decreased as they went up.

  • In that time the columns were not trusted to support the roof without being attached to the side with the walls, as it was the first time to built colonnade.

  • There is a new roof built to preserve the colonnade, as the old one was destroyed.

Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

  • The aim of this colonnade  to imitate the royal palace in Memphis.
  • It ends with a transverse hall with four columns each two connected on each side.

Southern cemetery of king Djoser

Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

  • There is no evidence that anyone was buried in this southern cemetery.
  • The reason of the construction of the southern cemetery in the funerary group of the pyramid of Djoser is due to several opinions:-

  1. It may have been used to bury the Canopic jars, but this is a weak opinion because in the later periods of Djoser these vessels were placed in the burial chamber with the deceased.
  2. It was at the beginning the main cemetery, but some cracks appeared in the walls as a result of the poor quality of the stone, so they left it and built in a place opposite to it.
  3. It is believed that it was used as a symbolic tomb as representation of Upper Egypt.

  • It is located in the southernmost part of the large courtyard and it consists of two parts.

The first part:-

  • It is a rectangular building covered with limestone.
  • It has a frieze decorated with a cobra snake, which is the first trace on which to display the decoration of this royal symbol. 
  • The entrance leads to two rooms that were likely used for making offerings.

Lower construction

  • It is carved in the ground, but it did not contain a place suitable for placing the coffin of the king.

  • There are Three paintings on false doors, representing king Djoser performing rituals connected to the heb sed Festival.

Funerary Complex of Djoser 1

  • As he was running gracefully on the tips off his toes, and the images of the king were relatively slender and his muscles prominent and clear.

  • And above him the falcon Horus spreading his wings, evidence of his protection by the deity.
                   《To be CONTINUED Part 2》