In Brief

The Oldest Pyramid in Egypt Reopens to the Public

The pyramid of Djoser, designed by Imhotep, was nearly crumbling when a restoration began in 2006.

The pyramid of Djoser, Third Dynasty, ca. 2630-2611 BCE (photo by Vincent Brown via Flickr)

After nearly 14 years of closure and a $6.6 million restoration, Egypt’s oldest standing pyramid is now open to the public again. The 200-feet-high pyramid of Djoser, located south of Cairo in the Saqqara necropolis, was built around 4,700 years ago as a tomb for the third dynasty pharaoh Djoser.

When renovations began in 2006, with a hiatus between 2011 and 2013 during the Egyptian revolution, the structure was practically crumbling due to neglect, environmental wear, and damage from a 1992 earthquake. According to the Smithsonian, in addition to stable ceilings and walkable corridors for its three miles of internal passages, the pyramid now has a number of new, modern-day features: a lighting system and access for people to disabilities.

Known as the Step Pyramid for its stacked, six-step design, the grandiose tomb claims a lot of “firsts” in the history of art: it was the first-ever large-scale, stone construction and the largest pyramidal funerary complex, and its architect, Imhotep, can claim the first recorded name of an artist in history. After his death, Imhotep was revered as a god by the Egyptians; now, we can bask in one of his most legendary accomplishments again.

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