Imhotep’s genius is certainly present in the step pyramid he designed for King Djoser, which is known for being the first pyramid created in Egypt (Friedman, 1995, p 1). Prior to the step pyramid, Kings were traditionally buried in a flat-roofed mastaba. Imhotep revolutionized this aspect in two main ways: by stacking the multiple mastabas and using stone instead of mud bricks (National Geographic, 1996). By precisely stacking the mastabas so they were perfectly aligned with one another, Imhotep guaranteed a long-lasting tomb that wouldn’t crumble or degenerate at anywhere near the speed of some other similar burial structures of the time.
Inside of the pyramid, Imhotep’s incredible architectural prowess is exhibited by the relief panels. They are structured along an extremely precise north to south axis, which connects all of the panels to make it appear as though Djoser is running south out of a perfectly aligned exit out of the south tomb, following the precinct in a way that immortalizes the king as a mighty ruler that conquered his enemies from east to west and reclaims his territory by exiting through the south. (Friedman, 1995, 20).
Outside of the pyramid, the complex can only be entered through the southeast archway, as the other three entrances are actually false and used to further dissuade grave robbers and defilers (Friedman, 1995, 10). The statues and depictions here are not only aligned with the relief panels inside the time, but also towards areas of astronomical significance. For example, the serdab statue of the king, where offering were made to him, is faces north toward a particular shape and orientation of stars, which hold the meaning of not knowing death in accordance to ancient pyramid texts (Friedman, 1995, 10). Imhotep’s architectural feats in regard to this pyramid inspired the design and structure of every pyramid that has been constructed in Egypt since.
- Friedman, F. D. (1995). The Underground Relief Panels of King Djoser at the Step Pyramid Complex. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt,32, 1-42.
- National Geographic. (1996). Step Pyramid of Djoser. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://www.nationalgeographic.com