1.2 EGYPT - 1.072 Zoser's pyramid complex plan 1.074...

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1 SAQQARA Until 2750BC, at the Saqqara burial site in Lower Egypt there was a small mortuary temple to the north side of the pharaohs’ tombs. Along with this, at the side of the mastaba tombs was a wooden boat, a barque , which was intended to carry the pharaoh across the heavens. (Figure 1.072) In the afterlife, the pharaoh would take this journey every day from east to west accompanying the sun god Ra, also called Re. At night, he would travel in the opposite direction through the Underworld. An inexplicable event occurred during the reign of King Zoser in the Third Dynasty. As his mastaba was under construction, he suddenly decided that his tomb should be not a large mastaba but a mountain, visible to all those working in the elds below it. (Figure 1.073) So, he ordered his architect Imhotep, who is the rst architect in recorded history and honored throughout Egyptian history, to enlarge and step up the mastaba into a mountainous mass built of stone. Some have theorized that Imhotep may have been one of Zoser’s sons. (Figures 1.074 – 1.076) The possible inuence of the Mesopotamian ziggurat on this design is clear. However, the symbolic meanings of the two are very different. God comes to dwell in the ziggurat, but the pyramid is a step to the sun, a stairway to heaven so to speak. (Figures The building of Zoser’s stepped pyramid is a major milestone in architectural history. It was the rst building to be built in stone and in so doing, married forever stone with the idea of monumentality. Building in stone masonry is called stereotomy . In fact, any kind of masonry construction is called stereotomic. The tomb of the king in Zoser’s stepped pyramid is 92’ below ground. Here resides the mummied body of the king and his Ka . We know that the ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with trying to achieve 1.072: Zoser’s pyramid complex, plan 1.074: Imhoteps’ signature 1.075: Zoser’s pyramid, section 1.076: Zoser’s pyramid 1.077: ziggurat at Ur 1.078: Zoser’s pyramid 1.073: Zoser’s pyramid complex seen from the Nile Valley
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2 immortality. They believed this could be accomplished by preserving the corpse through mummication. Ensuring immortality also meant the mummied body had to be protected from the elements and intruders. The Egyptians believed their pharaohs became gods after death and their immortality as gods could then ensure an afterlife for everybody. As a god, the king himself was presumed to be with the sun. Originally, the pharaoh was considered to be the son of Re or Ra, the sun god. However, by the end of the Old Kingdom the pharaoh was thought to be identical with the sun god. Such is the nature of polymorphic religions that the identities of their gods can change over time. The emblem of Zoser’s immortality is this gigantic mass of stone that dominates the skyline, merging with it where the sun goes down, on the west bank of the Nile. The Ka spoken of above is an abstract notion peculiar to Egyptian
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1.2 EGYPT - 1.072 Zoser's pyramid complex plan 1.074...

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