Memphis and Sakkara

We visited Sakkara first thing in the morning. Sakkara is the necropolis associated with Memphis and the early history of Egypt. My first architectural history book at NYU started with Imhotep, the first architect to be documented as part of recorded history. We know there were many before, but this man was a Minister to the great King Djoser of the Third Dynasty. He was said to be also an astronomer, mystic, mathematician, as well as the architecture and project manager of the first step pyramid. Prior to this time royal tombs were square raised plinths with a burial chamber dug underneath and it was made of mud bricks.

The explanation shows the innovation by Imhotep which allowed the burial place to rise many meters above the plane of the desert and to be seen from a far distance. Since the rulers were gods as well as earthly rulers, more and more attention was paid the return of the ruler after his death. The pyramids at Giza refined the form to the form we at more familiar with.

The other important innovation was the use of stone rather than mud brick. This allowed the longevity. However, because Imhotep had no guides for how the stone would react to loads such as the roof, he over designed the long walkway to enter the courtyard for the pyramid.

The large pillars are designed to look like reeds tied for structural strength with leather straps. Note that here is a wall that attaches to the exterior stone wall that enclosed the whole site – the column is NOT free standing. Belt and suspenders design.

The man in the photo is Salah Tawfit, my Program Director/Guide.

Renovations continue. The scale can be seen by the workers on the fourth and fifth steps.

There is a white packet being lifted up to the upper platform of the scaffold by two men. The scaffold is wood, probably sycamore which is native to this area. The dimensions are mixed, but most look like 4×6. The stone is limestone.

Published by


On the planet in California

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s