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Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara Has Reopened to Tourism After a 14-year Renovation

Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara Has Reopened to Tourism After a 14-year Renovation

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It has taken fourteen long years, however the most important renovation project at Egypt’s ancient Saqqara advanced has is finally complete—the renowned Djoser step Pyramid is all over again hospitable the public, permitting guests entry to the 4,700-year-old stone structure for the primary time since 2006. 

Following the harmful 5.8-magnitude earthquake that smitten Cairo in 1992, the otherwise stabile monument was jolted to the purpose of close to collapse, and was after closed to tourists for over a decade. In 2006, the Egyptian government turned to a UK-based engineering firm to undertake the complicated and delicate project of restoring the pyramid’s structural integrity. Now, following years of careful work, tourists will enter the traditional sepulture from its south entrance, see the burial chambers, and explore the antecedently sealed tunnels below the Brobdingnagian structure. 


creating the list for several Egypt tour packages, the Djoser Step Pyramid in Saqqara is one in {every of} Egypt’s most valuable monuments of antiquity. it’s the nation’s oldest cut-stone construction, predating the near urban center pyramids by a couple of century – in fact, it predates every different cut-stone structure of its size within the entire world. With its multi-tiered terracing rising two hundred feet towards the heavens, it additionally illustrates a serious step within the evolution of monumental style in ancient Egypt, and stands because the 1st example of the pointed construction that after became the much-emulated norm. 


although it’s actually the foremost dominant feature at Saqqara, Djoser step Pyramid is simply one in every of several gorgeous archaeological ruins that you just will expertise and explore on an Egypt luxury tour of those ancient royal burial grounds. Let’s take a more in-depth look into the Step Pyramid of Djoser and everything else this huge cemetery has got to supply during this comprehensive guide to Saqqara.


The History and Significance of Saqqara, the famous cemetery of Memphis


to induce a thought of the importance of Saqqara (sometimes spelled Sakkara or Saccara) as a cultural and archeologic site, we’ve to travel back regarding 5000 years, to the flip of the third millennium BC. this can be the first kinsfolk amount of Ancient Egypt, once higher and Lower Egypt were first joined below unified rule. Over the primary 2 dynasties of pharaohs spanning some four hundred years, the favored and ruling capital of Thinis, thought to own been somewhere around Abydos, was step by step cession power to the growing metropolis additional north on the Nile: Memphis. 


as thriving Memphis was established because the new capital of the unified kingdom of Egypt, the lands around town (north of Luxor) and Thinis remained a holy ground for centuries, serving as the center of cults and therefore the honored home of temples. The royal cemetery for this area, situated within the desert west of the most important settlements, came to be referred to as Umm El Qa’ab -“the Mother of Pots” – so named for the numerous gifts delivered to the venerable site over the ages by devout pilgrims. moneyed families and reverent Egyptians traveled from so much and wide to see the resting place of the primary and Second folk pharaohs entombed here in Umm El Qa’ab, from king Narmer to Khasekhemwy. although of comparatively straightforward style compared to those designed by future successors, the mud-brick constructions of single-level tombs have yet left their mark within the sands of central Egypt for thousands of years. 


As Memphis rose to prominence, this town of “White Walls” (the which means of Memphis’ name in antiquity: Inbu-Hedj) additionally looked westerly into the desert to bury and celebrate its honored dead. Lands from Dahshur to urban center were put aside for use as places of interment, however Saqqara came to be the realm reserved for the higher echelon of society. Noble burials at Saqqara date as so much back because the 1st Dynasty, and a minimum of 2 pharaohs of the Second Dynasty -Nynetjer and either Hotepsekhemwy or Nebra – were entombed here. 

Burial constructions at Saqqara from this Early kinsfolk Period, whether or not noble or royal, resembled those from an equivalent fundamental quantity at Umm El Qa’ab. Subterranean gallery-style tombs were the foremost common of these, consisting of a main sepulture with a series of little aspect rooms. For longer-lived pharaohs or additional prestigious nobles, mastabas were made on top of these underground channels – bench-like buildings with gently diagonal sides, rectangular and squat, composed of 1 story of mud-brick walls and occasional components of hewn limestone. 


however return the beginning of the third dynasty, ancient Egyptian observance design modified forever. 


Djoser’s Step Pyramid


As power shifted in ancient Egypt within the middle twenty seventh century BC and berth passed on from king Khasekhemwy, Djoser hereditary the throne to become the primary Pharaoh of Egypt of the 3rd dynasty. This transition marked the start of a amount of nice prosperity and wealth for Egypt, and the start of AN age currently named because the recent Kingdom. now of fortune was well genuine by Djoser, who commissioned several monumental works still extant to the current day – but none thus celebrated and creatorurally vital as his Step Pyramid at Saqqara. it’s one in every of the foremost famous historical sites in Egypt.


For this Brobdingnagian and unprecedented project – his grand burial monument – Djoser turned to his exulted (and later really deified) architect Imhotep. Quite virtually building upon the tomb design, Imhotep formed of a series of stacked mastaba buildings on a sq. base, growing smaller in scale as they were raised atop one another. The all novel and innovative style elicited one thing representative of a stairs to the heavens – and cut a profile of a currentlyadays-quite-familiar pointed shape.

Adding to the grandeur of the monument, and its millennia-long period of time as well, Imhotep and Djoser had the structure designed virtually entirely from cut limestone – not the clay bricks employed in nearly everything else up to the current purpose in Egyptian history. The engineering ability and raw force required to execute a project of this magnitude and composition would are staggering and theretofore unseen, speaking even now to the facility and ambition of Pharaoh of Egypt Djoser. This overall style and process – a pyramid designed from cut limestone – was 1st formed of and built by Djoser and Imhotep here in Saqqara around 2670 BC, and have become the pilot for Egyptian burial monuments for ages after.


the flowery work continued below grade, wherever the body of Djoser was secreted away in his burial chamber. in depth shafts and tunnels are mamma through the bedrock below the Step Pyramid, covering over half-dozen kilometers in total length. Lined with tiles of blue earthenware or embellished with scenes of the pharaoh collaborating within the Sed festival, these corridors would serve as the lifespan residence for the king’s soul. 


Thousands of years later, the Step Pyramid of Djoser still stands twenty stories tall, high over the sands of Saqqara ANd dominating the barren landscape. Now, particularly that it’s reopened for tourism, you’ll pay an entire day simply at Djoser’s pyramid on an Egypt non-public tour, exploring the pyramid’s interior passages and subterranean hallways. however giant and astounding because it is, there’s still miles of sand in Saqqara to explore, and lots additional secrets to discover.


Pyramid of Unas


although the reign of the fifth folk pharaoh Unas lasted over thirty years, the Pyramid of Unas is truly the tiniest of all the recent Kingdom pyramids – a modest one hundred forty feet or so. Stone deficiency at the time of construction within the twenty fourth century BC might are a factor, however the ruins of the pyramid and therefore the encompassing advanced stay spectacular over 4000 years later. 


abundant of what’s left of the most surface structure is that the detritus core and a few structural blocks of cut stone; on components of the lower levels, smooth-sided casing stones of white limestone that when lined the whole pyramid remain intact. within the chambers and passages below the ground, however, a real archeologic treasure stays: the earliest and most well preserved inscriptions of the Pyramid Texts – a litany of nearly three hundred spells from ancient Egyptian non secular tradition. 


Pyramid of Teti


The immediate successor and certain son of Unas, Teti was the primary Pharaoh of Egypt of the sixth folk of ancient Egypt. although very little over a stuff mound remains of the pyramid proper, the underground network of passageways and rooms below the advanced is fantastically preserved, and supply a welcome, if tight, respite from the desert sun on an Egypt radio-controlled tour. 

Here, as in his father’s tomb, the pyramid texts are once more engraved at length into the walls of Teti’s burial chamber, yet as on the greywacke coffin that lies below a painted ceiling of stars. 


tomb of Ti


“Ti the Rich” was what {the ANcient|the traditional} Egyptians referred to as this supervisor of the Abu Sir necropolis, and fashionable guests to the 5th-dynasty noble’s mortuary mastaba will still verify the reality of that nickname. A life-size sculpture of Ti greets entrants to his lifespan abode, throughout that unimaginable scenes of everyday Egyptian life are illustrated in lovely relief. 


Here on one wall, a bunch of feminine villagers dance and sing, whereas on top of a doorway, Ti and his spouse Neferhetpes ply a ship through a papyrus pond, the wife Neferhetpes was one in every of the celebrated Egyptian queens. Men fireplace furnaces to smelt gold in one image and suspire for construction in another, while in an contiguous chamber girls are pictured bearing away the harvest from the farms and marshes – the whole of all of them the while chitchatting to every different in hieroglyphics, sort of a magazine panel of stone from four millennia ago. 


Tomb of Mereruka


the foremost in depth and gilded of any of the noble, non-royal tombs at Saqqara, the mastaba of Mereruka could be a veritable mortuary mansion of thirty three chambers, prepared for exploration on one in every of our greatest Egypt tours. because the functionary to Teti, among different lofty titles, Mereruka was maybe the second-most powerful man within the 6th-dynasty kingdom, as is well portrayed on the many wall reliefs.


Rooms and additional rooms showcase Mereruka overseeing workmen making pottery or collecting beds, inspecting livestock, searching and fishing, or riding in comfort along with his suite of servants. In different scenes, his female offspring accepts and evaluates deliveries of furnishings and other fine goods, whereas his spouse manages employees crafting jewelry. Some rooms are left unadorned—simply storerooms for the excesses of a decent life, currently lang syne looted.


The Serapeum


strip-mined out and made piecemeal over several centuries, the Serapeum of Saqqara was the ultimate resting place for over sixty of the sacred arthropod genus bulls. As incarnations of the god Ptah, the bulls were idolized throughout their life at Memphis, and achieved immortality through ritual sacrifice and mummification.

throughout Ramses II’s 13th-century BC reign, his son Khaemweset commissioned a tunnel for the mummified bulls, later named the Lesser Vaults, that includes huge red and black granite sarcophagi. Tourists will practice these buried hallways, or wander longer in those of the bigger Vaults – excavated some 600 years later by Psamtik I, who mamma out a passageway 350 meters long with XXIV aspect chambers for elephantine igneous rock coffins.


Imhotep depository


A dramatically additional fashionable inclusion on our list, the Imhotep Museum, that is one in every of best museums in Egypt at the doorway to the Saqqara advanced opened in 2006, and includes 5 halls of relics and recovered artifacts from the Saqqara complex. A sixth hall is devoted to renowned French archeologist Jean-Philippe Lauer, who spent nearly eight decades of his life unearthing and protective the historical buildings and valuable treasures of Saqqara.


A staple on most Egypt tour packages, the depository provides curious tourists with a beautiful summary of the whole necropolis, and is known as for the prolific and innovative creator Imhotep. it’s additionally a wonderful break from the sun-baked desert sands—the Imhotep museum is delightfully air-conditioned.


we will solely name such a large amount of at a time, however the list of sights to ascertain in Saqqara on our greatest Egypt tours goes on ANd on. be part of USA before long for an Egypt radio-controlled tour, and we’ll assist you expertise dateless Saqqara to your heart’s content. inspect our 1st timer’s guide to Egypt here.


Happy Travels!

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