Posts Tagged ‘step pyramid’
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.
Is it really surprising that Egypt’s most accomplished vizier would be none other than the Joseph of the Bible?
Joseph (son of Jacob) is a key figure in the Old Testament of the Bible , who became a vizier (sage / viceroy) for an Egyptian pharaoh and during this time was responsible for saving ancient Egypt from a seven year famine. Joseph was able to acquire all the land of Egypt (except that of the priests) by selling grain during the famine. In this way, Joseph made the Pharaohs very rich. Joseph was only 30yrs old when he became vizier and 44yrs old when he had saved Egypt and bought up all the land. He lived to the age of 110yrs and was given a royal Egyptian burial. The Bible is silent about what Joseph did for the last 66yrs of his life although the Bible does say that he was able to not only ensure the survival of his family, he was able to protect them as they grew into a great nation numbering over 2 million at the time of the Exodus (which occurred 430 years after Joseph’s family entered Egypt).
Given Joseph’s position and achievements, one would expect to find some evidence for his existence in Non-Biblical Egyptian records and archaeological discoveries. (See Evidence for the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt).
Imhotep is perhaps the most highly acclaimed vizier in Egyptian history, having designed the first pyramid; the Djoser Pyramid (also called the Step Pyramid). This Pyramid has a large vertical shaft under it and the complex contains many similar structures that seem to have been used to store grain, hence the connection to Joseph. Imhotep is also credited with having saved Egypt from a seven year famine (see Famine Stele). Imhotep is reputed with having designed the first buildings with columns, written many literary works, and developed preservation techniques. Hundreds of years after his death, his legend had grown so much so that he was worshiped as a deity, particularly during the Ptolemaic period. Pilgrims would bring mumified animals to his tomb in the hope of being healed.
Is it really surprising that Egypt’s most accomplished vizier would be none other than the Joseph of the Bible? If Joseph had saved all of Egypt and brought up all the land in Egypt, one would expect him to be a very prominent vizier, if not the most prominent. Imhotep built grain silos and saved Egypt from a seven year famine and his pharaoh, Netjerikhet (Djoser) was considered a hereditary Land Lord (see Famine Stele).
Joseph was a very prominent person in Egyptian History. By the 18th dynasty, Netjerikhet was known after his vizier as Pharaoh Djoser; the Pharaoh of Joseph (or Zozer in Greek).
Joseph saved Egypt from a seven year famine and brought all the land of Egypt for the Pharaoh. He would have been a very prominent person in Egyptian History.
The Bible is silent about what Joseph did in the last 66 years of his life but it does say that when he died at the age of 110 years, he was given a Royal Egyptian burial.
It is quite likely that Joseph was the Imhotep of the third dynasty, the vizier of Pharaoh Netjerikhet and the designer of the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara (which was really a grain storage and distribution centre).
After saving Egypt from a seven year famine, he continued to serve the Pharaohs of the 3rd and 4th dynasty and was, therefore, in a position to ensure the safety of his family, the Israelites who had settled in the best part of the Land of Ra and were rapidly increasing in number.
Joseph-Imhotep was responsible for burying the pharaoh when Netjerikhet died in the 5th year of the famine. Joseph-Imhotep decided to bury Netjerikhet in the first grain silo that he built (it was fraught with ventilation issues making it difficult to use as a grain silo anyway). The grain silo was to make an excellent tomb in which to place Netjerikhet’s sarcophagus. Joseph-Imhotep just had to make a platform at the bottom of the silo and line the silo with ornate limestone and then lower the Sarcophagus into place. There was already a number of access tunnels which could be extended to become the galleries in which Netjeriket’s funerary vessels and treasures were placed. Joseph-Imhotep sealed the tomb with a granite slab and then built a mastaba out of solid limestone on top. Prior to this, mastabas were much smaller structures and made out of mud bricks with a much smaller shaft in which the pharaoh was buried. As time went by, Joseph added more mastabas, made from solid limestone, to that of Netjerikhet’s, to bury his 3 wives and 11 daughters. The mastabas were added initially on the same level but eventually were stacked on top of one another to give rise to a step pyramid structure that was finally faced with smooth limestone.
As time went by, Netjerikhet eventually became known after his vizier as Pharaoh Djoser (the Pharaoh of Joseph).
The Egyptians and the Greeks tried to deify him (Imhotep). Temples were built in Imhotep’s name and pilgrims in the Ptolemaic period would bring mummified animals to offer to his tomb in the hope of being healed; over a 1000 years after Joseph-Imhotep’s death!
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!