Cite this

Stepped Pyramids in Egypt Term Paper


The Egyptian pyramids can be discussed as the biggest stone buildings constructed by the ordinary people living during the ancient times. Today, the Egyptian pyramids are examined by many scientists and architects as the examples of the unique ancient architecture and as the symbols of the Egyptian art.

Thus, the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom in Egypt were traditionally buried inside the tombs which were called ‘pyramids’ because of their specific form where four sides resembling triangles met at the top of the massive construction to point at the sky. It is important to note that the ancient Egyptians focused on constructing two typical forms of a pyramid which are known as the ‘step’ and ‘true’ pyramids. The first pyramids characterized by the ‘stepped’ form were built by the ancient Egyptians at Saqqara in 2650 B.C.E[1].

In spite of the fact that the design of the true pyramids is studied and described by researchers more actively, it is important to concentrate on the design characteristics of the first stepped pyramids in Egypt because of their great role for the development of the specific ancient Egyptian art and architecture styles.

The earliest stepped pyramid was built for the pharaoh Djoser or Zoser at Saqqara in 2650 B.C.E. The pyramid was constructed from the stone in order to be built for ever and to symbolize the power of the pharaoh. That is why, many people from all the country could see its six huge stone steps of 196 feet high (Fig. 1).

Before the first stepped pyramid was built for Djoser, the pharaohs had been buried in the tombs of a rectangular form which were known as mastabas. The mastabas were the huge stone structures built over the tomb. These structures were made of solid sun dried bricks[2]. The researchers note that the tomb for the pharaoh Djoser could also be developed as a mastaba, but some more rectangular mastabas were added to the previous construction in order to form the pyramid[3].

The design of the pyramid for the pharaoh Djoser was developed by the famous Egyptian philosopher, physician, and architect Imhotep or Imuthes. This prominent person was the minister of the pharaoh, and he contributed to the spread of the pharaoh’s reputation as the most culturally developed person in Egypt.

The idea of the minister’s authorship in relation to the design and construction of the pyramid is supported with the fact that Imhotep’s name is inscribed on the pedestal of the pharaoh’s statue, and this statue was found in the pharaoh’s tomb[4].

To understand the architectural process and the specific process of construction developed in the Ancient Egypt, it is necessary to focus on the procedures of the first stepped pyramid’s building. The first step was the process of clearing the desert plateau from the unnecessary sand. Thus, it was important to expose the flat surface hidden under the sand in order to provide the space for building.

The first pyramids had the underground part and the cone seen over the ground. That is why, the structures were built on the underlying limestone. It is important to pay attention to the fact that “a large pit was then quarried in the rock nearly 24 m deep, with a rock-hewn stairway leading down into it. The bottom of the pit was lined with granite quarried at the First Cataract, nearly a 800 km to the south”[5].

First of all, it was necessary to build the underground chambers and galleries. Thus, eleven large chambers, the stairway, and the passage which led to them “were then embedded in masonry up to the surface, and above them a great masonry was built, about 12 m high with side length of approximately 120 m”[6].

The form of the pyramid was achieved with the help of building the second smaller rectangle over the basic rectangular structure which formed the fundament of the pyramid. Then, the necessary third, fourth, fifth, and sixth rectangles were constructed and put on the fundament to finish the specific pyramid with the help of building its steps. Referring to the construction of pyramids, it is necessary to note that the main feature of pyramids is the possibility to face the four sides which can be pointed according to the compass[7][8].

The huge pyramids were never built in isolation from the other buildings. Thus, the ancient pyramids form significant architectural complexes which are important because of their cultural and social roles. Springer and Morris state that the pyramid built for the pharaoh Djoser is surrounded by many significant buildings where the most important ones are the North and South Pavilions, “large temples and terraces, carved facades, columns, platforms, shrines, chapels and life-sized statues.

The enclosure wall contains an area of 37 acres (almost 15 hectares), about the same size as a large town of those times”[9]. From this point, the first stepped pyramids had the significant art and cultural meaning for the ancient Egyptians because these architectural complexes reflected the aspects of the people’s religious and social life (Fig. 2).

If the process of building pyramids and associated temples and galleries was significant for ordinary ancient Egyptians to symbolize their devotion to the pharaoh as the God, the construction of pyramids was also significant for the pharaohs who tried to accentuate their power with the help of building huge tombs with a lot of secret chambers and passages[10][11].

While discussing the shape of the tombs developed and constructed for the pharaohs, it is possible to assume that the shape of a stepped pyramid symbolized the steps to the heavens where the Egyptian pharaohs could find the source for the eternal life[12].

Furthermore, the form of a pyramid was also discussed as a special launch pad designed for the pharaohs to achieve the eternal life along with the other Egyptian gods at the heavens. That is why, the pyramids were built with the great mathematical accuracy in order to provide the pharaohs with the opportunities to achieve the heavens[13].

Although archeologists found several stepped pyramids in Egypt, the pyramid for the pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara is still discussed as the most significant example of the Egyptian architecture to conclude about the particular features of the ancient art and architectural design in Egypt.

According to the unique graffiti dated in relation to the period of the 19th Dynasty, Djoser was described by the Egyptians as the ‘opener of stone’ and as the possible founder and developer of the specific stone architecture, and this development was possible with the help of the pharaoh’s minister and architect Imhotep[14].

rom this perspective, the small step pyramid built for Ombos during the end of the 3rd Dynasty cannot be discussed as significant for the progress of the ancient art in Egypt in comparison with the pyramid designed by Imhotep[15].

To discuss the significance of the stepped pyramids for the art and culture developed by the Egyptians, it is appropriate to refer to the description of pyramids and their perfect forms provided by Schatz. Thus, Schatz states that the lines of pyramids can be discussed as rather simple, but they are perfectly aligned and connected with each other to state the interesting form of a cone. Furthermore, “a great deal of effort was exerted in their construction.

They are appealing, mysterious, and inspiring. They invoke a great deal of wonder. You can look at them 100 times and never see them the same way”[16]. The mysterious character of pyramids is accentuated with references to the idea that ordinary people living during the ancient times were not competent enough to develop and construct the mechanisms to transport the huge stone bricks in order to form the specific platforms or steps of the pyramids.

The stepped pyramids can be discussed as the vivid examples of the ancient art developed in Egypt in 2650 B.C.E. The pyramid built for the pharaoh Djoser at Saqqara can be described as the reflection of the Egyptians’ unique vision of the architectural forms and mechanisms which were used and followed to build the first stepped pyramid.

Although the approaches to build the ‘step’ and ‘true’ pyramids are different, the significant symbolic meaning of pyramids as the objects of art can be noticed with references to any Egyptian pyramid built in about 2650 B.C.E.

  1. Endnotes Leon Gray, The New Cultural Atlas of Egypt (USA: Marshall Cavendish, 2010), 123.
  2. Robin Derricourt, “Pyramidologies of Egypt: a Typological Review”, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 22, no. 3 (2012): 354.
  3. Philip Steele, Ancient Egypt (USA: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009), 22.
  4. Ibid., 22.
  5. American University in Cairo, Egypt (USA: American University in Cairo Press, 2007), 17.
  6. Ibid., 17.
  7. James Allen, Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids (USA: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999), 11.
  8. Miroslav Barta, “Location of the Old Kingdom Pyramids in Egypt”, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15, no. 2 (2005): 177-179.
  9. Lisa Springer and Neil Morris, Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt (USA: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2010), 10.
  10. David Koch, “Dating the Pyramids”, Archaeology 52, no. 5 (1999): 26-28.
  11. Philip Steele, Ancient Egypt (USA: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009), 22.
  12. Ibid., 22.
  13. Robin Derricourt, “Pyramidologies of Egypt: a Typological Review”, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 22, no. 3 (2012): 355.
  14. American University in Cairo, Egypt (USA: American University in Cairo Press, 2007), 17.
  15. Leon Gray, The New Cultural Atlas of Egypt (USA: Marshall Cavendish, 2010), 96.
  16. Florence Schatz, Ancient Egyptian Art – The Fun Way (USA: AuthorHouse, 2008), 44.

The List of Figures

Figure 1. The Step Pyramid

The Step Pyramid.

Figure 2. The Complex of the Pyramid

The Complex of the Pyramid.

Bibliography

Allen, James. Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids. USA: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999.

American University in Cairo. Egypt. USA: American University in Cairo Press, 2007.

Barta, Miroslav. “Location of the Old Kingdom Pyramids in Egypt”. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 15, no. 2 (2005): 177–191.

Derricourt, Robin. “Pyramidologies of Egypt: a Typological Review”. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 22, no. 3 (2012): 353–363.

Gray, Leon. The New Cultural Atlas of Egypt. USA: Marshall Cavendish, 2010.

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: A Concise History of Western Art. USA: Cengage Learning, 2012.

Koch, David. “Dating the Pyramids”. Archaeology 52, no. 5 (1999): 26-35.

Springer, Lisa, and Neil Morris. Art and Culture of Ancient Egypt. USA: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2010.

Steele, Philip. Ancient Egypt. USA: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009.

Schatz, Florence. Ancient Egyptian Art – The Fun Way. USA: AuthorHouse, 2008.

This term paper on Stepped Pyramids in Egypt was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Need a custom Term Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online

GET WRITING HELP
Cite This paper

Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2019, April 5). Stepped Pyramids in Egypt. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/stepped-pyramids-in-egypt/

Work Cited

"Stepped Pyramids in Egypt." IvyPanda, 5 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/stepped-pyramids-in-egypt/.

1. IvyPanda. "Stepped Pyramids in Egypt." April 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stepped-pyramids-in-egypt/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "Stepped Pyramids in Egypt." April 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stepped-pyramids-in-egypt/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Stepped Pyramids in Egypt." April 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/stepped-pyramids-in-egypt/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Stepped Pyramids in Egypt'. 5 April.

Related papers