King Djoser – The First Pyramid Builder

King Djoser is the second king of the third Dynasty (approx. 2668 BC). The third Dynasty marks the beginning of the Old Kingdom, which has also been called "The Age of the Pyramids". Although this king was the second king of this great age, he did however begin the pyramid-building that ancient Egypt is so famous for.

He is a king of many "firsts"...

In fact, he is credited with building the first stone building in the world.

He succeeded his brother King Sanakhte, the first king of the third Dynasty. King Sanakhte ruled for about 18 years, although not much is known about him or his reign. His brother however, is one of the most highly revered rulers of ancient Egypt. King Djoser was a true Pharaoh in every sense of the word.

Djoser Step Pyramid

First of all, not only was he the first Egyptian to order the construction of a pyramid - he actually pulled it off.

With the help of one of the most famous non-royal Egyptians ever, the Step Pyramid was completed in time for his death, only after 19 years of ruling the country...

...building such a structure in a relatively short period of time attests to the power and authority of the Pharaoh.

Anyway, as I was saying, he had help from a very famous Egyptian - Imhotep. But unlike his character in the Hollywood movies "The Mummy" and its sequel, Imhotep was an architect, doctor, priest, astronomer, scholar, scribe, and Vizier to the King.

He was loved by the people and respected by his king. In fact, his genius was awarded well in life and in death - with him becoming a deity in his own right.

So back to the King! King Djoser may have had quite a large obstacle other than building a huge tomb. During his reign, a 7 year drought was said to have taken place. It was due to low annual flooding of the Nile.

And as you know, Egypt's entire population depended on the flooding for its food supply. Famine and hardship spread through the country, with the people holding the King responsible.

As Pharaoh, one of his privileges was the he could commune with the Gods - but this also meant that he was held responsible if the Gods took vengeance on the land...

...the low annual flooding was thought to be just that: Godly wrath.

Apparently, the King did not do a good job of appeasing the ancient Egyptian Gods and sought advice from his Vizier Imhotep.

Imhotep suggested that the King renew his worship to a certain God linked with the flooding (which means granting more power and riches to the priests of this God), who would then lift the curse and revive the floods.

This is a legend, and its accuracy is not known - it is one of the means that certain priesthoods were thought to have used in order to keep the power and riches given to them and maybe even get more of it.

A means so effective it's still in use all over the world till now!

In the end, the famine ended and the pyramid was built; and King Djoser was laid to rest within his tomb to be succeeded by King Sekhemkhet who was left with very large shoes to fill.

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