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King Djoser, 3rd Dynasty

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Djoser, also spelled Zoser, second king of the 3rd dynasty (c. 2650–c. 2575 BCE) of ancient Kemet, who undertook the construction of the earliest important stone building in Kemet. His reign, which probably lasted 19 years, was marked by great technological innovation in the use of stone architecture. His minister, Imhotep, a talented architect and physician, was himself deified in later periods.


The funerary complex of King Djoser at Saqqara, with its Step Pyramid, is the most extraordinary architectural complex of the Old Kingdom. Its architect was worlds first genius, the Great Imhotep who would be deified by the Greeks 2,500 years later. Hippocrates would study in Memphis at the Temple of Imhotep. The Greeks in turn saw in him their healing god Asclepius. In the third century B.C.E. the Egyptian historian Manetho repeated the traditional belief that Imhotep had invented the art of building in stone during Djoser's reign. In 1926, in a dump south of the entrance colonnade at the complex, the Antiquities Service found a statue base and fragments of a statue of King Djoser on which is engraved, next to the king's Horus name, that of Imhotep with the following titles: "Seal Bearer of the king of Lower Egypt, first after the king of Upper Egypt, Administrator of the Grand Palace, hereditary noble, high priest of Heliopolis, Imhotep, builder and sculptor. ..." The dedication allows this godlike man to step out of legend and assume his place in history.

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