• Imagining History

Pyramid of Djoser: What Is It? - A Very Brief Guide for KS2 Students

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

So you've heard of the Great Pyramid of Giza, but have you heard of the Pyramid of Djoser? No? Read on for a quick crash course on this unusual pyramid:


Pyramid of Djoser:


What is it?

The first ever pyramid, constructed in the 27th Century BC.


So, there were definitely no pyramids built before it?

No, but there were burial chambers called mastabas.


What? What's a Mastaba then?

Mastabas were tombs made from mudbricks and were 'shoe box' like in shape with flat roofs. Ancient Egyptians were buried inside them, along with important items they wanted to take to the afterlife. These items were often beer, grain, fancy clothes or expensive jewellery .


Mastabas were always built pointing from North to South, as the Egyptians believed this would help the soul inside to reach the afterlife.


They also had a statue of the dead person hidden within the walls. The idea was this statue would help protect the tomb.


Were they really small then? Like the size of a coffin?

Some could be really small but many were MASSIVE. Some were 30 feet high - that's the same height as two giraffes, one glued on top of the other.


What have all these Mastabas got to do with the Pyramid of Djoser?

It's believed that the Pyramid of Djoser started off as a Mastaba. Then, over the years, extra levels were built on top of it.


Why were these levels built?

Some Egyptologists believe it was to create a flight of steps, like a staircase, to carry the Pharaoh's spirit to the heavens above.


Did people stop building Mastabas with the invention of the Pyramid?

Not at all. Whilst Mastabas fell out of popularity with the Pharaohs, regular Egyptians chose to be buried within them for the next thousand years.


Hang on, is the Pyramid of Djoser the Step Pyramid?

One and the same. The name is well suited. The pyramid originally stood at 62.5 metres with its distinctive step design.


Did Djoser design the Pyramid?

Probably not, it was likely his vizier, a fellow by the name of Imhotep.


How do you pronounce Djoser?

With great difficulty. If it helps any you can read it as Djeser or Zoser instead.


What happened next?

Well, the Pyramid of Djoser proved such a hit that future Pharaohs all wanted to be buried in one. The design was improved over the years to become the smooth triangular shape we know so well today.

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