Thepolitical advances made in the Early Dynastic Period formed the foundations foreconomic strength and radical monumental development in the Old Kingdom. Theircomplex religious beliefs influenced many of the concepts seen in the king’smonuments. ‘Re as the solar god, and Osiris, the god who symbolisedregeneration and was king of the underworld …
promised eternity to theirfollowers’, their faith is evident in the overall construction of many funerarycomplexes (David, 1986: 40). Discovery of the Kings Lists, inscribed with theevidence of reigning kings, has enabled historians to reconstruct an accurateportrayal of Egyptian civilisation. The Palermo Stone is ‘one of the mostimportant historical sources for Dynastic and the Old Kingdom Periods,inscribed on both sides with royal annuls’ (Shaw, 2003: 45). It has allowed usto gain insight into Egyptian civilisation beyond that of the royal tombs.
Thescribes include information regarding The Nile, cult ceremonies, warfare, sculptureand taxation. Mastabas were a prominent feature of funerarymonuments and it is in the early period of the Old Kingdom that we begin to seean influential development in their construction. Originally mastabas werebuilt in a rectangular form using mud-brick, the superstructures were dividedinto chambers, including the burial chamber placed centrally, containing itemsfor the afterlife. Many subsidiary graves, surrounding the central location ofthe burial chamber, contain evidence that suggests human and animal sacrificeswere made to accommodate the king in afterlife. By the 3rd Dynastythe mastaba had developed conceptually. The burial chamber was placedunderground, there is no evidence suggesting that human sacrifices were acontinued practice, and the material used for its construction consisted ofboth stone and of brick.
It is with Djoser, second king of the 3rdDynasty, and his revolutionary construction of the Step Pyramid, that theimportance of continually developing monumental tombs is evident. The StepPyramid found in Lower Egypt, Saqqara, was designed by the king’s vizierImhotep and was the first stone structure of such a large scale, an ‘art …traditionally attributed to, Imhotep’ (Aldred,1961: 84). With the first known pyramid, the architectural leap from the EarlyDynastic Period sets in motion an advancement which ‘combines in one monumentthe previously separate burial place and monumental enclosure’ (Dodson, 2016:12). The Step pyramid was located centrally within the enclosure and theinitial structure was a low square layout, echoing the original mastaba. Thiswas further developed into a six stepped, rectangular pyramid constructed usinglimestone, a new material that would be used in the building of monuments forcenturies later.
The burial chamber, found underground, was enclosed bygalleries. To the north of the enclosure was a temple that incorporated theserdab, in which the oldest life sized statue was placed. Mummified remainswere found within the Step Pyramid, and although assumptions were made thatthey belonged to king Djoser, ‘radiocarbon results have thrown doubt on this..
. the only non-architectural material found in the pyramid itself is awooden box with the king’s name’ (Dodson, 2016:14). With Djoser’s successorSekhemkhet we can see some minor developments in the pyramids features.Sekhemkhet’s pyramid was completed only up to the first step of an intendedseven.
The king’s burial chamber however, shows evolvement through the ‘firstfreestanding stone sarcophagus’ and ‘unusual store galleries, only otherwisefound in the Layer Pyramid’ (Dodson,