The Short-Lived History of Ancient Egypt’s Step Pyramid Resumed in 10 Interesting Facts

The blue faience tiles of Djoser's royal palace were found in one of the underground chambers of the pyramid.


Pharaoh Djoser was the third king of the first dynasty of Egypt, and he wanted to build a unique burial empire specifically for his family members. King Djoser’s Step Pyramid was built approximately 4700 years ago. Djoser’s burial complex covers a behemoth 37 acres, which means that it is nearly three times as large as the Old Kingdom of Hierakonpolis.

King Djoser of Egypt. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Vault of Step Pyramid
A diagram of a vault found inside the Step pyramid complex. Source: Pinterest

Before Djoser’s reign, mastaba tombs were the usual form for graves. King Djoser’s vizier, Imhotep, came up with an idea of constructing an extraordinary tomb for King Djoser and his family members by piling multiple mastabas on top of one another to make the shape now known as the Step Pyramid of Djoser.

Following are ten fascinating facts about the pyramid of King Djoser:

1) The Pyramid of Saqqara or the Step Pyramid has six different tiers. It was originally a mastaba tomb, but Imhotep transformed it into a massive royal burial chamber for Djoser and his family members.

2) The final resting place of King Djoser’s family members is at the bottom of a large shaft, which is approximately 28 metres deep. Furthermore, the burial chamber of King Djoser is at the core of the pyramid. The chambers contained various ancient artefacts that once belonged to the deceased royals.

3) The blue faience tiles of Djoser’s royal palace were found in one of the underground chambers. Moreover, there are various chambers and corridors inside the pyramid; they represent the infrastructure of Djoser’s royal palace.

4) Spread around the area of Djoser’s Step Pyramid are more than ten pyramids and numerous burial temples that were built during the Pharaonic and Greek periods.

5) The chambers and underground tunnels of the pyramid were specifically designed to prevent robberies. However, Djoser’s personal commodities, along with his remnants were robbed at some point in the past. Egyptologists discovered a mummified foot from his burial chamber, but they are not certain if it truly belongs to him or not.

6) The chambers in the subterranean complex were for ceremonial purposes; but not for the living, only for the soul of the Pharaoh Djoser.

7) It is believed that the underground complex was a replica of King Djoser’s original royal palace. It was meant for his afterlife so his soul could ultimately enjoy the luxuries.

8) A hipbone of a female was discovered in the subterranean chambers below the pyramid. This young woman lived long before Djoser. Hence, the presence of her remnants remains a massive mystery.

9) Djoser’s Step Pyramid, in terms of volume, is larger than the pyramid of Menkaure, the third largest pyramid of the Giza plateau.

10) The most fascinating yet strange thing about the subterranean world is that many of its contents predate Djoser by several generations. Multiple inscriptions on vases refer to the people who lived long before Djoser. Certain theories claim that Djoser was fond of artefacts. Hence, he collected several while he was alive and thriving. His comrades placed his collectibles in the burial chamber so he could be with them in the afterlife.


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