Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara is one of the most important archeological sites in all of Egypt. While it may not be as impressive or as famous as the Giza Pyramids, this structure predates them and it is vital to archeologists’ understanding of the development of pyramid construction.
The Step Pyramid was built in the 27th century BC during the 3rd dynasty rule of Djoser. It is the first pyramid built in Egypt and while it is not a ‘true pyramid’ with smooth sides, like those at Giza and Dahshur, it remains an important stepping stone in their development. It is also the first large-scale cut-stone structure in the world.
The structure consists of the six distinct layers, or steps, of diminishing size built on top of one another. Archeologists understand this to be an embellishment of earlier an earlier practice where pharaohs were buried under a mastaba, a flat rectangular structure somewhat like a large grave covering. Djoser’s builders decided to stack several of these structures to create a more imposing monument to the pharaoh, creating the structure we see today that stands 203 feet tall. In doing so, they took the first step toward the creation of the pyramids that have made Ancient Egypt famous throughout the ages.