The Step Pyramid
in Saqqara, to the northwest of Memphis, is the Step Pyramid. The
Step Pyramid has long been held as the oldest stone building known
in the world[see 1] and is
also home to an immense necropolis (cemetery).
The Step Pyramid (or proto-pyramid) was built for the burial of
Pharaoh Djoser by his Vizier Imhotep,
during the 27th century B.C.
It is believed that it started life as a regular Mastaba
but revisions to the original plan meant that it ended up as six
Mastabas, placed one on top of the other,
each new mastaba being smaller in size
than the one beneath it. Originally it would have stood around 62
meters tall and is believed to have been covered with polished limestone.
One of the things that is unique about the Step Pyramid is the
arrangement of its internal passageways and chambers. The Step Pyramid
has the most complex underground layout, and was one of the very
first of its kind. The underground chambers involved quarrying out
around 3.5 miles of shafts, tunnels, chambers and galleries. A central
corridor and two parallel ones extend over 365 meters (1,198 feet),
connecting 400 rooms.
The burial chamber was surrounded by four galleries which were
cut around the burial chamber and probably contained the funerary
equipment of the pharaoh. Some of the galleries were lined with
blue faience tiles, and resembled mats which were hung on the walls
of the kings royal residence.
Additionally, there were shafts cut into the eastern side that
were over 32 meters deep. These terminate in a corridor 30 meters
long pointed westward toward the original mastaba. All were found
during excavations to be looted with the exception of one that contained
two alabaster coffins, one of which contained the mummy of a child.
 The National Museums of Scotland's
Saqqara Survey Project believes it has found a new stone structure,
also at Saqqara, which it believes is even older than the Step Pyramid.
The structure, named Gisr el-Mudir ("Enclosure of the Boss") is
believed to date from around 2900 B.C. which would make it older
than the Step Pyramid by around 200 years.