The Step Pyramid was built on top of a Shaft in which the Pharaoh was buried. Was this shaft originally used to store grain or was it made for this purpose?
The shaft was cased with large limestone blocks and the top was sealed. A limestone mastaba was constructed over it. Successive layers were then added to the mastaba to bury the rest of Djoser’s family. The final result was the Step pyramid.
In about 500BC the limestone casing in the shaft collapsed, crushing Djoser’s sarcophagus. It was only in recent times that the rubble in the tomb has been cleared and the tomb inspected.
The shaft would have had to have been constructed before the pyramid was constructed.
This means that Djoser must have died and been placed in the shaft before the construction of the Step Pyramid. The famine occurred during Djoser’s life time as did the seven years of plenty. Maybe the shaft was originally used to store grain and later was lined with limestone and used as a burial chamber. A limestone mastaba was contructed on top of the burial chamber and then successive mustabas were added to bury Djoser’s 11 daughters and three wives. The original mastaba was extended horizontally and then vertically (stacking one upon another) resulting in a Step Pyramid which was then faced with nicely cut limestone (which has fallen down over the centuries).