Posts Tagged ‘shaft’
The Step Pyramid complex of Djoser contains a dozen shafts that appear to be grain storage bins accessible via tunnels connected to the bottom of the pits and linking to a central open stairwell. Interestingly, there is a shaft with similar dimensions right underneath the center of the Step Pyramid. The shaft obviously predates the pyramid. Access to the shaft was via a closed in stairwell linking to tunnels around it’s base. It would appear that this was a prototype grain silo. Ventilation would have been a problem and it was likely that it was abandoned as a silo once the better ventilated silos were operational. The abandoned silo was subsequently used as a burial chamber for the Pharaoh when he died in the 5th year of the famine. It was encased with ornate limestone and sealed with a granite slab after the pharaoh’s sarcophagus had been lowered into it. A mastaba was built on top of it using solid limestone blocks. Successive mastabas were added to bury the the Pharaoh’s 3 wives and 11 daughters. The result was the Stepped Pyramid.
The Left entrance would have required a ladder or a rope to get in and out while the Right entrance had stairs.
The main entrance leads straight to the Central Shaft in which Djoser’s Sarcophagus was placed. The Right tunnel leads to another tunnel that gradually descends and connects to the galleries connecting to the bottom of the shaft. The Left entrance tunnel leads to a vertical shaft that connects to the another set of galleries that are a bit like a maze. The only way out would be through the central shaft to the galleries on the Right that connect to the stairs or to climb back up the vertical shaft in the Left entrance. If the central shaft was full of grain it would not be possible to cross through to the Right side from the Left. People who fell down the vertical shaft in the Left entrance tunnel would, therefore, be trapped if they survived the fall (unless they had a ladder or a rope to climb back up). This is a scary thought!
Djoser’s sarcophagus was placed on a platform which was above the level of the galleries and tunnels that connected to the bottom of the shaft. It was therefore possible to cross from L to R through the central shaft underneath Djoser’s sarcophagus when the shaft was being used as a tomb.
On careful inspection of the above diagrams, it would appear that the entrance tunnel connects with 4 other tunnels that lead directly to the central chamber where the sarcophagus of Djoser was placed. These tunnels actually go right under the platform on which the sarcophagus was placed. While these tunnels do have branches with blind endings, it is unlikely that somebody would get lost in them and not find the central chamber.
These tunnels would have lead grave robbers straight to the tomb once they had been breached. This is exactly what happened. The mummy of Netjerikhet (Djoser/Zozer) was in fact stolen by grave robbers and all that remains is one of Netjerikhet’s feet.
It is much more likely that the central shaft was originally used as a grain silo and the grain flowed into these underground tunnels to some degree thereby increasing the capacity of the silo and making it safe to retrieve the grain without being buried in it.
There would have been a problem of ventilation and hence the necessity to construct another series of interconnected shafts to store grain very close to the Step Pyramid and accessible through tunnels whose entrance was at the bottom of pits within the walls of the Step Pyramid Complex.
The Step Pyramid complex was originally designed as a grain storage and distribution center. It’s entrance is through a building with tall columns shaped like corn. This building would have been where the corn was traded; a short walk to the pit where the grain was retrieved from the underground tunnels connecting to the grain silos.
When the time came to bury Djoser (Netjerikhet), Joseph / Imhotep constructed a platform at the bottom of the first silo and lined the shaft with ornate limestone. Djosers Sarcophagus was lowered into the shaft from above. The top of the shaft was then sealed with an enormous slab of granite and a mastaba was constructed on top. Successive mastabas were added to bury the other members of Djoser’s family when théy died. Eventually, the stack of mastabas took the form of a Stepped Pyramid. The Stepped Pyramid was eventually faced with smooth limestone which over the centuries has fallen down leaving the Step Pyramid in it’s current state.
The Step Pyramid complex was therefore originally intended to be a grain storage and distribution center in Saqqara. When Jospeh / Imhotep’s pharaoh died, the original shaft was used as a burial chamber for Netjerikhet (Djoser/Zozer) and a mastaba was built on top. Successive mastabas were added to form the Step Pyramid and a Morturary complex was built next to it within the walls of the Step Pyramid complex which continued to be used as a grain storage and distribution center for many centuries.
The Egyptions attributed Jospeh / Imhotep’s achievements to Ra but in fact it was Yahweh / Jehovah who was behind it all!