Your Egypt Tours

The step pyramid of Djoser


The second king of Dynasty III, Zoser is best known for his funerary monument, the Step pyramid at Sakkara. Zoser was considered a living god and was worshipped as the incarnation of Horus the sun god. Stonemasons mastered the art of quarrying and moving stone by trial and error but soon had the technology to build a grand funerary monument worthy of their king. Zoser’s Step Pyramid was the first large stone building in the world and the prototype for all other pyramids. Beneath the pyramid are a maze of shafts and tunnels that lead to the burial chamber, but Zoser’s mummy was never found. On the north side of the Step Pyramid is a Serdab (Arabic for cellar), a small room that contains a statue of Zoser. The inlaid eyes, now missing, were made from rock crystal, alabaster, and obsidian and gave the statue a surprisingly lifelike appearance. Two small holes are carved in the north wall to allow the statue to gaze out on his pyramid complex for all eternity. The original statue of Zoser can be seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and a replica statue is now in the serdab.

Zoser extended Egypt’s southern border to Aswan and east into the Sinai Peninsula in the search for turquoise, a semiprecious stone highly prized in the Old Kingdom. Turquoise was popular throughout Egypt’s history, but the only examples we have today are the Old Kingdom butterfly bracelets from Queen Hetepheres’s tomb, now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. An inscription at Sehel Island (south of Aswan) claims that Zoser gave them land south of Aswan. Interestingly, the priests of Isis at the Philae Temple claim that Zoser gave the land to them.