Episode 4: The Sacred Ones

The Life and Immortality of Netjerykhet Djoser

Around 2680 BCE, King Netjerykhet Djoser came to the throne, and Egypt would change forever. Over the next thirty years, an enormous monument would rise near the capital city. Six layers, thousands of tons of stone, and a vast mortuary complex make the Step Pyramid the oldest pyramid in the world. It is a magnificent space…

  • Time Period: circa 2700 – 2650 BCE
  • Kings: Netjerykhet (Djoser)
  • Notable sites: Saqqara, Iunu (Heliopolis)

03. map-nasa

saqqara-d3-djoser (1)
Reconstructed entrance to the Step Pyramid enclosure (Dominic Perry, 2019).
saqqara-d3-djoser (2)
Step Pyramid from the South end of the Enclosure (Dominic Perry, 2019).

The step pyramid complex today.

04. Djoser (1)

A statue base of Djoser (left) with reconstruction (right).

04. Djoser (3)

Internal decoration of the South Tomb at the Saqqara pyramid complex.

04. Heliopolis

Decoration of a shrine built at Heliopolis under Djoser’s reign.


Imhotep (left), and “Imhotep” (right).


Netjery-khet Djoser (Source: the Cairo Museum).


Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: the One and the Many, 1996 (Amazon).

Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, 2008 (Amazon).

John Romer, A History of Egypt: from the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, 2013 (Amazon).

Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, 2001 (Amazon).

David Wengrow, The Archaeology of Early Egypt, 2006 (Amazon).

Robert Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 2009 (Amazon).

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Duamutef's top-dog, Derek says:

    I’m sorry to put you on the spot here, or to seem like a naysayer who is out to undermine your claims (trust me, I have learned so much from these podcasts, I have 0 doubt about not only your abilities as a historian of Ancient Egypt, but your ability to (perhaps more importantly) connect dots in a rational & sound way w/the archeological info that’s been discovered), but do we have any evidence of the minor step pyramids belonging to Huni? I dunno, but it seems like every time an unexplained stone pyramid shows up, we’re quick to immediately attribute it to Huni for no other reason than simply “well he MUST’VE built SOMETHING, right!?”, only to later find out that it was entirely somebody else’s project (Meidum much?). Maybe he enjoyed just sitting around & twiddling his thumbs all day, who knows? Do we have anything that hints to these little step pyramids as being his? Again, quite sorry for asking, it’s just that I’m a curious creature who doesn’t know much, but does enjoy learning new things.

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Hi Derek,

      You are absolutely correct. The association with Huni is a hypothesis that, until further evidence proves us wrong, is tentatively accepted. Due to time constraints, I actually cut out a whole discussion of that issue, as I thought no one would notice 😉 You are correct, though; and I think when I revisit this episode I will restore that discussion for more detail. Thank you for noticing, and taking the time to comment! It helps me know where my listeners are with the material.

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