Egyptian Pyramids - who built the pyramids? Why were the pyramids built? Where are the pyramids? How many pyramids are there in Egypt? What were the pyramids used for? The Bent pyramid. The Step Pyramid. The Red Pyramid. The Great Pyramid. The Pyramids at Giza. This site aims to answer those questions and many more, giving an insight into the truely magnificent structures know as the pyramids of Egypt!

The Step Pyramid

The Step Pyramid - Pyramid of King DjoserLocated 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.

[1] 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.