The Step Pyramid of Djoser is an iconic part of the Pyramid Fields, spanning from Giza to Dahshur – but no one’s seen it up close for a while. In 2006, the structure was closed to the public as it was on the verge of total collapse. But in March 2020, it was once again reopened after experts and archeologists executed a meticulous 14-year restoration.
Older Than the Great Pyramid of Giza
Believed to be designed by the ancient Egyptian architect Imhotep, Djoser’s Pyramid is the oldest in Egypt as it was built around 2670-2650 BC. The structure lies in the Saqqara funeral complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, and features six stacked stone terraces that measure up to 207 feet tall.
The pyramid was constructed for the burial of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Djoser, of the 3rd Dynasty. The pharaoh’s burial chamber and sarcophagus are located approximately 90 feet underground and experts believe that the stacked stones represent the “stairway to heaven” that the king would take.
What Was Done During the Restoration
The monument was severely damaged by an earthquake during the early 1990s – an event that made the deterioration and woeful condition of the pyramid even worse. In 2006, the Egyptian government closed the structure and hired British engineering firm Cintec to execute the restoration. The project was led by Peter James and was briefly paused in 2011 during the 25 January Revolution. Overall, the renovation cost $6.6 million.
Peter and his team didn’t only restore the pyramid walls but also the pharaoh’s burial chamber, which had been closed since the 1930s, and collapsed ceilings, and corridors as well. They installed new lighting and used an innovative system to support the walls while they were being brought back to life.
Egypt has been working hard to restore its rich historical and cultural heritage and the reopening of Djoser’s Pyramid is a great step towards their goal. Make sure to visit it during your next vacation to the land of the Nile as the country has much more to offer than the Giza Plateau.