Saqqara: Djoser's Step Pyramid and Heb-Seb Court / Teti and Unas' Pyramids: Pyramid Texts

Saqqara Travel Blog

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Djoser's Step Pyramid.
Djoser's Step Pyramid complex is amazing because of its uniqueness. (And here are more archaeological tid-bits than most of you want to know - but remember they are HUGE as far as Egyptology goes.  So, take them to cocktail parties to impress your friends.) It is the only completed complex to have a Step Pyramid, Heb-Sed Court and Festival Temple, subsidiary mastaba instead of pyramid and serakh facade enclosure wall.  The only other time these features occurred was in the pyramid complex of Sekhemkhet, Djoser's successor.  But he died before his pyramid complex was finished and it was left incomplete.  Djoser's Pyramid was the first large stone structure in the world and it was the first time in Ancient Egypt that the cult center was next to the King's burial site.
Colonnade and Step Pyramid.
  The entry colonade is a unique, unusual and slightly bizarre structure.  There are 40 columns that are reeded or thought to represent imitations of columns made of bound bunches of reeds.  The wall surrounding the entire pyramid complex was based on a funerary fort at Abydos. Inside the Step Pyramid are blue faience tiles representing reed matting.  They are gorgeous and are now in the Cairo Museum. 

A Heb-Sed Court is the court in which the Pharaoh runs the Heb-Sed race during the royal jubilee festival.  During this ritual the king's right to rule and his royal powers were renewed.  In this race, held thirty years into the Pharaohs rule, and sometimes sooner (especially with Pharaohs who had short reigns), the Pharaoh raced the Apis bull.  If the Pharaoh won, then he continued to be Pharaoh; If not then well too bad for him, he was no longer virile enough to be king and it was the next guys turn to take a stab at it.
A small hole in the Mortuary Temple wall that let's you peer in on Djoser's Ba Statue.
  So, DID early Kings such as Den, Djer or Djoser ACTUALLY run this race.  Well, interestingly in the Heb-Sed court at Saqarra there are two boundary stones that would have been used as race markers.  Also, Djoser is depicted running the race on a false door relief.  Another odd point, a Pharaoh's tomb is usually designed to help him bring with him to the Afterlife the things he loved in this life.  So, why would Djoser design his funerary complex as a Heb-Sed Court?  He would spend his Afterlife forever running the Heb-Sed race.  Sounds like something out of Homer.  Or maybe he just wanted to continually be reafirmed as King, forever.  Well, whatever floats your boat Djoser.

Not to be discounted at Saqqara are all the other fine burials and smaller 5th and 6th Dynasty Pyramids.
Djoser's False Door.
  First stop was Unas' and Teti's Pyramids and Causeways.  Teti's Pyramid was inscribe with Pyramid texts, the spells that the King used to successfully pass to the afterlife.  It was really cool to have studied the texts in my Heiroglyphics class and then be able to go to Teti's Pyramid and read them!!  There were no pictures on the walls of Teti's Pyramid, just wall to ceilings inscriptions.  But, it was quite breathtaking.

P.S. This was a no photo pyramid, don't you love my pics from inside Teti's Pyramid!

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Djosers Step Pyramid.
Djoser's Step Pyramid.
Colonnade and Step Pyramid.
Colonnade and Step Pyramid.
A small hole in the Mortuary Templ…
A small hole in the Mortuary Temp…
Djosers False Door.
Djoser's False Door.
Djosers Ka Statue.
Djoser's Ka Statue.
Blue Faience Tiles.
Blue Faience Tiles.
Tetis Pyramid. 6th Dynasty.
Teti's Pyramid. 6th Dynasty.
Unas Pyramid. 5th Dynasty.
Unas' Pyramid. 5th Dynasty.
Us reading the Pyramid Texts in Te…
Us reading the Pyramid Texts in T…
photo by: Chiquitatina