Sakkara : Step Pyramid, Cairo
Sakkara is one section of the great necropolis of Memphis, the Old Kingdom capital and the kings of the 1st Dynasty as well as that of the 2nd Dynasty. are mostly buried in this section of the Memphis necropolis. It has been of constant interest to Egyptologists.
Three major discoveries have recently been made at Sakkara, including a prime ministers tomb, a queens pyramid, and the tomb of the son of a dynasty-founding king. Each discovery has a fascinating story, with many adventures for the archaeologists as they revealed the secrets of the past.
Sakkara is best known for the Step Pyramid, the oldest known of Egypt's 97 pyramids. It was built for King Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty by the architect and genius Imhotep, who designed it and its surrounding complex to be as grand as it was unique and revolutionary. Imhotep was the first to build stone tombs in honor of the king's majesty
We took a walk through Zoser's Funary. Lots of pillars inside the temple. Not sure I really understood what they were for. So much information is flying at you, some of it can get lost
Sakkara and Dahshur they all open at 08:00 am but close on regular of 5:00pm
Less known and visited than Giza's pyramids, this is the older one discovered in Egypt.
The adjacent temple is interesting and well displayed. there are also a few and beautiful mastabas open to visit.
It's not easy going to Saqqara on your own or by public transport, so I booked a full-day tour that include the necropolis of Saqqara.
This is our second stop, coming from Memphis, and we drive through dates or palm plantation, got in the gate of the complex and my driver bought the ticket at EGP60 for the Imhotep Museum and the vast Saqqara necropolis.
The place is home to the very first pyramid - The Pyramid of Djoser, or popularly known as the Step Pyramid of Saqqara. There's a museum which I found out later that my driver did not inform me so I was not able to see it. In fact I discovered that this driver - that was provided by my hotel in Cairo (Museum View Hotel) skipped a lot of amazing sights.
Anyhow, Saqqara is a vast area of mostly desert with the step pyramid as its center attraction. There are other pyramids mostly ruined and like a small enclosure or ancient settlement just near the parking area.
There was an underground that you can explore, just be careful not to bump your head as I did. The local caretaker or maybe not will insist on guiding you for a tip.
The step pyramid is under reconstruction during my tour. (See pic).
There weren't much tourists around, in fact, I was the only one walking around the desert -- the wind blowing the sands, some got into my eyes -- or maybe they don't want to explore the area under the heat of the sun? I dunno, but the whole desert wass mine, then I saw some vehicles on the other parking lot near the mortuary area which again, my driver did not tell me - that there was some sights on the other side of the step pyramid, damn!
Saqqara is a huge area that has been used as a burial ground for thousands of years although much of it sill lies beneath the desert sands. Excavations have been carried out over some two hundred years.
The feature of the site is the step pyramid of Djoser, recogniseda s the world's oldest major stone structure. The pyramid, built in the 3rd Dynasty (aroaund 2630 BC), is set within a large complex. The only entrance is through the mortuary temple. A 10.5 meter wall, built of finely cut limestone and over a mile long, surrounds the complex.
Saqqara can be a 1/2 day trip from Cairo passing (or not if you wish) carpet schools, or can be added to a day at Giza.
Saqqara is located near the beginning of the Nile Delta. Saqqara is the burial grounds for the kings of the 3rd and 4th Dynasties
The Step Pyramid of King Djoser at Saqqara was built by the vizier Imhotep and was literally constructed in stages. King Djoser was the 2nd king of the 3rd Dynasty, he ruled from 2267-2648 B.C.
The shape of the pyramid is called a Mastaba, meaning it is a mud-brick tomb with a rectangular base and sloping sides with a flat roof. It stands 203 ft high and weighs over 200,00 tons. The base is 358 ft by 410 ft and sits on a total of 37 acres. Inside is a burial chamber with a vertical shaft leading to it. The entrance to the chamber was sealed with a 3-ton piece of granite
Behind the pyramid is a Serdab (meaning cellar in Arabic). the Serdab served as a chamber to house the Ka statue of a dead Pharoah. If you look inside you will see a statue of King Djoser.
The mummy of Mutnojmet, the sister of Queen Nefertiti was found here in Saqqara around 30 years ago. No one is clear how she got here.
Price: 60.00 L.E. (10.39 USD)
The pyramids at Giza impress by their size, simplicity and evident age. The archaeological remains of Saquara are infinitely more varied and size apart extraordinary than those at Giza.
The famous 'step-pyramid', the oldest known dressed stone construction in the world, is only the most spectacular of it's attractions. Indeed the site is so extensive that the authorities have divided it into two zones, each with separate coach parks and entry points.
I was on a quick day of pyramid hunting, and so only had a couple of hours to spare before heading south to Daishur, and so visited little. The step pyramid as mother of all stone architecture was what I had to see. I would have enjoyed the painted reliefs I saw more without the guide who insisted on accompanying me.
Tho photo is one of my very very favorites. It's the dog in the foreground that makes it.
This complex was designed by the architect Imhotep for his master Zoser , the founder of the third dynasty . Manetheo recorded that this king ruled for 29 years.
The Step Pyramid was built as the ancient Egyptians believe in resurrection. Zoser was buried in this pyramid according to the ancient Egyptian concept of life after death.
The step Pyramid of Sakkara is considered as an evolution in the concept of pyramids, from the simple mastaba to the pyramids in its final form in the region in Sakkara. It was built as step pyramid, its height is 60 meters and consists of 6 steps on top of each other, each is smaller than the one below.
The step pyramid is entirely built of limestone. They used small bricks of limestone, yes it is not the best quality of stone but it remained for more than 4700 years.
When you talk of Egypt it is very hard to grasp the words “the oldest.” Egypt has 97 known pyramids and the step pyramid of Sakkara is widely promoted as the oldest pyramid in Egypt.
Originally part of the great metropolis of Memphis, the Kings of the first and second dynasty are buried here. The step pyramid, however, was build in the third dynasty by King Djoser (or his slaves!) after it was designed by the architect Imothep.
As much as the Step pyramid is spectacular, Anne and I were very impressed with the tombs of the old kingdom which located here as well. In fact, you ust walk past them to enter the pyramid. Thse tombs are home to the most beautiful “reliefs” and hieroglyphics depicting daily life. These hieroglyphics are painted on masonry that appears as though it could have been laid only a few years ago!
When you first arrive at the Sakkara step pyramid you walk through two massive gates that protect this walled structure. You then walk through to a magnificently restore colonnade that has 40 columns.
As you can see by the picture, there are small rooms that contained statues which are said represented King Zoser, ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, and builder of the step pyramid.
When Anne and I walked between the columns we got a sense of what it was like to live in these times, especially once we walked through the columns and out into the open courtyard.
As I mentioned earlier, Anne and I were very impressed with the tombs of the old kingdom which are home to the most beautiful “reliefs” and hieroglyphics depicting daily life. These hieroglyphics are painted on masonry that appears as though it could have been laid only a few years ago!
One thing you learn very quickly in Egypt is that “most” of the guards, guides and tourist police are open to bribery. In fact, it seems to part of their every day life. You can offer a bribe for most “access” or “photographic” issues and the worst that can happen is that you are met with a polite “no.”.....How do you think I got these photographs!!!!
I went here to see the Zoser Step Pyramid.
Even more ancient (around 7000 yrs old) than the Giza Pyramids.
There are also other antiquities and tombs to see here.
I was advised not to bother paying extra for the Museum though - not much to see.
There is a little coffee shop with snacks on site.
As at March 2009: 60LE Adult entrance fee.
The complex of Saqqara is crowded with burials which seems been used many times and is riddled with tombs and galleries. The main attraction and the most famous monument in the complex is the step pyramid of Djoser which is the oldest of all Egypt's pyramid.
There are so many pyramids in the complex. Some are still there and some are just a ruined heap of rubble. And to name a few;
The Mastaba el-Faraun - 4th Dynasty
Pyramid of Userkaf - 5th Dynasty
The Pyramid of Unas - Late 5th Dynasty
Pyramid of Pepi II - 6th Dynasty.
We hired a taxi driver for the day who took us to Saqqara, Memphis and Dashur for 170LE. Our first stop was Saqqara which is around 12 miles from Cairo and takes around 30 minutes to get there by cab/car (traffic permitting). Saqqara is the necropolis of Memphis with the Step Pyramid of King Zoser being the oldest pyramid in the world. The mastabas or burial chambers contain murals of the ancient empire and are worth a quick look.
Entry costs 60LE per adult (as of Nov. 2008) (students and children pay around half price I believe) and includes entry to the Imhotep Museum located by the ticket office. The Museum holds many artifacts and explains the history of Saqqara and you may take photos at no extra cost.
From here, your driver will take you up the hill to the Step Pyramid site where you can take photos and visit the burial chambers (mastabas) and ruins too. You can also see the Dashur Bent Pyramid in the distance from the hill.
The Step Pyramid is situated in the South Sakkara. Though this pyramid is small in size compared to the pyramids of Giza, it is one of most popular Egyptian monuments. The pyramid was first built with large scale of limestone and serve as a monumental royal tomb.
History tells us that the pyramid complex was built for Horus Netjerikhet or known as Djoser. There are so much to see in the Pyramid Complex. I am going to give you the information separately and detailedly.
Serving as a necropolis in Ancient Egypt for about 3000 years, Saqqara is one of the richest and largest archeological sites in the whole of Egypt. Its proximity to Memphis, one of Ancient Egypt's greatest capitals, ensured that it contain a vast number of tombs and funerary structures dating from various dynasties. Saqqara's most important tomb, the 3rd Dynasty Step Pyramid of Djoser, predates the Pyramids of Giza and is known to be humanity's first monumental stone structure. A visit to Saqqara is necessary on any itinerary in Egypt to better understand the country's long history. Saqqara happens to be a less popular site among Egypt's mass tourism industry, and is therefore a more pleasant experience than the overcrowded Pyramids of Giza.
For more detailed information, check out my Saqqara page.