Around making it the largest building at

Around the world, there are different ways in which people bury or cremate their loved ones. In ancient Egypt, their loved ones were buried under structures called mastabas or pyramids. A mastaba which in Arabic means “house of eternity”, is a flat-roofed rectangular structure with inward sloping sides made out of stone or mud bricks. (Figure1). Only the most important people of ancient Egypt such as Pharos would be mummified and buried in one.

In later time the use of mastabas had ended and was now open to serve as tombs for the common people. As the old kingdom arose, Pharaohs were entombed in pyramids instead of mastabas. A pyramid has the same concept as a mastaba but its structure is triangular which converges to a single point at the very top. (Figure 2). The pyramids were built out of stones and bricks making them more durable than the materials used to create the mastabas. Only the great pharaohs were allowed to be buried in pyramids. Egyptian pyramids are some of the most architecturally diverse structures, these landmarks hold great historical significance.(“Differences Between Mastabas and Pyramids”).

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One of Egypt’s greatest man was Djoser, he was one of the most well-known pharaohs from the third dynasty of ancient Egypt. When Djoser came to power they began to build his resting place as a traditional flat-roofed mastaba around 2630 B.C (” Egyptian pyramids”).  Through his 19 year reign, Djoser contacted a man by the name of Imhotep who later helped him build his kingdom. He was known to be a talented architect, physician, sculptor, and scribe. He began to build a mastaba on top of the previous one that was already built doubling its size. He came to build six step stones that measured a total of 204 ft.

tall. Imhotep used stones, carving them to resemble wood or reeds making the tomb more durable. His creation was now known to be the Step Pyramid of Djoser.

(Figure 3). The pyramid was about 40 acres making it the largest building at that time (“Step Pyramid of Djoser”). But their success did not end there. They encased the surface of the pyramid with smooth white limestone to reflect rays of the sunlight, building chapels that surrounded the base and a country yard for the king’s festivals.The Step Pyramid of Djoser is located in Saqqara and was approximately build 4,700 years ago.

It is known to be the first pyramid Egyptians build (Jarus 2012).The pyramids main purpose was for the afterlife of the pharaoh. Egyptians took this very serious and everything had to be prepared with great detail. They believed that their pharaoh was chosen by their Gods to serve as their protector on earth. That is why they would keep the king’s majesty intact in order for the king to have a good journey in their afterlife. The pyramid is like a second home that the Pharaoh will use once he passes away. The king would also have a room where he can worship the gods as well.

One little-known fact is that the Step Pyramid of Djoser is the only old kingdom pyramid that contains eleven of the Pharaoh’s daughters also buried there.Djoser was the pioneer in building mastabas and what is now called a pyramid. Djoser became the pharaoh every other pharaoh would want to emulate during their reign. This also gave rise to all other pharaohs to try and build bigger and better pyramids. One good example was a pharaoh named Snefru, he attempted to build a pyramid in Dahshur. He decided to go bigger then Djoser containing a total of seven steps.

As he accomplished to do so, the pyramid collapsed after some time. But he didn’t stop there he strived to build the perfect pyramid. He sought out a planned and constructed a bent pyramid. which is pretty much a pyramid with a 43-degree angle rather than a 52-degree angle giving it a bent appearance making it unique. (Figure 4). (“Guardian’s Dahshur”)These pyramids are still standing today and show the great engineering that took place in order to build them. These pyramids were not built in a day or a few weeks not even a year. Just like the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in one day” well neither were the pyramids or even the mastabas.

This process was a span of many years each few years perfecting it. The pharaoh  Djoser had many trial and errors but through them he learned and gained experience in order to build bigger and better. This is what made pharaoh great and also revered as a god after death, not only did he built something that was never done before but gave others a blueprint for the future.?Pyramids continued to be assembled through the fifth and sixth dynasties. Although the engineering and construction of the pyramids were not as great as they were before they first started to be built. The last pyramid builder was Pepi II who was the second king of the sixth dynasty to completed 30 years into his reign and build his pyramid in Saqqara.After Pepis death the kingdom collapsed, Egypt later entered a phase known as ” The first Intermediate Period”.  This  was a period of time were Egypt was not ruled by a single government.

This phase lasted for many years. But later on in the 12th dynasty single kings returned to rule and continued building pyramids. But the same building scale as before was never met (“First Intermediate Period Egypt”).The pyramid of Djoser was the key to all other pyramids. If it wasn’t for the failures and pyramids of Djoser maybe, we would not have the Egyptian pyramids we have today. These pyramids also show how amazing the human mind is in order to push the limit and create something that seemed impossible and the knowledge that the Egyptian had in order to build this with little technological advances. In the 21st century, we still can not recreate what the Egyptians did in their era.

Whoever knew that mastaba was the foundation to the beginning of the pyramid era. Mastabas and pyramids are overall a prime example of great architecture and engineering.


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