June 18, 2012

The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P3

The central feature of the pyramid complex, the mastaba, underwent no less than five alterations, each extending the original plan, and culminating eventually in the pyramid of six steps as we o Isometric section of Zoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara. It shows the three building stages of the original mastaba (1,2,3), The shafts leading to the subsidiary tombs (4) and the internal buttress walls (5) of the superimposed pyramid structure. The initial pyramid with four steps (6) was first extended to the north and west (7) and then further enlarged and raised to a height of six steps (8)

Ancient Egyptian Pyramid
However, before the stones of the new extension could be dressed, a further change was instituted. The elongated mastaba was first extended in all directions by another 3 m. and then an entirely novel type of structure was erected on the new foundation. It was a pyramid made up of four steps and reaching to a height of about 40 m. This was a most imposing edifice, looking out above the enclosure wall and towering over the whole of Memphis. However, more was still to come. The next move was to enlarge the pyramid of four steps towards the north and west until it covered an area of 125 x 110 m. This enlargement was merely an intermediate building phase, preparatory for the final achievement of a pyramid of six steps, rising to a height of 60 m. By transforming the pyramid of four steps into one of six steps, the quantity of stone used was raised from 200,000 tons to 850,000 tons. In fact, after the first minor alterations, each of Imhotep’s projects became more ambitious than the last one. It seems that, as the work progressed, far from exhausting his resources, he was able to command an ever increasing labour force. Zoser’s Step Pyramid looks as if six mastabas, each smaller than the lower one, had been piled up on top of each other, and this is the manner in which it is usually described. While admittedly the aspect of the Step Pyramid conveys just this impression, its construction is based on a completely different architectural principle. Whereas the original mastaba was made up of horizontal courses of masonry, the Step Pyramid consists of an accretion of steep buttress walls which slope inwards at an angle of about 75 °. The height of these buttress walls successively decreases towards the outside of the pyramid, giving the whole structure its step-like appearance. The basic design, which was evidently repeated in every later pyramid, was first noted by Perring who investigated the Step Pyramid in 1837. Climbing it, he discovered this pattern of construction, but in his and all later drawings the obvious conclusion was not drawn that the inner core of the edifice, too, had to be built up in the same manner. The stabilising effect of this design will be discussed in greater detail later, and it bears testimony to Imhotep’s genius in erecting a tall and, at the same time, safe building.

The surrounding court contains a number of large buildings which, however, are all solid dummies, probably replicas of the palaces which the pharaoh had inhabited in his lifetime. They 10 The Pyramid Complex of Zoser at Saqqara. The Step Pyramid (I) stands in the centre, with the dummy buildings of the palace (2) and the Heb-sed Court (3) on the east side. The southern tomb (4) adjoins the temenos wall (5) whose gates, except for one (6), are also dummiesclearly follow the practice established, as we have seen, much earlier by Hor-aha. Other structures in the enclosure appear to be the replica of a ceremonial court, used by the king for celebrating his jubilee, the Heb-sed festival. Adjoining the pyramid at its northern side is a mortuary temple, now much ruined, in the serdab of which was found the famous limestone statue of Zoser. The king is shown seated in a shroud-like garment which leaves only the hands and feet free and which may have been the apparel worn for his ritual death at the Heb-sed ceremony. However, the most mysterious feature is a large mastaba at the southern end of the enclosure. It covers a second tomb at the bottom of a shaft sunk into the rock to a depth of over 30 m. In design, including the access by a sloping tunnel, it is very similar to the tomb underneath the pyramid. Here, too, galleries were attached to the tomb chamber and they also contained reliefs showing Zoser, and walls covered with blue tiles. Although this southern tomb had also been entered in ancient times, the robbers had done less damage than in the main shaft. In particular, the room above the burial chamber was found intact and it also contained a large granite plug with which the entrance to the tomb underneath could be stopped up. This tomb, again a chamber of rose granite and empty, provided a surprise. It is only 1.6 m. long and could not have accommodated an outstretched human body which, moreover, would have had to be introduced through a channel width of 80 cm by 40 cm. What, if anything, was buried in this chamber is a matter of conjecture, but it may possibly have contained the king’s viscera.

Egyptian Pyramid Age :
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P1
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P2
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P3
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P4
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P5
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P6
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P7
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P8
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P9
The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Age Facts P10

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