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The Inventor Of The First Pyramid | Lost Treasures Of Egypt

NARRATOR: 10 miles south of
the Great Pyramids of Giza lies the Necropolis of Saqqara. Today, Egyptologist
Chris Naunton travels here to investigate what
triggered over a thousand years of pyramid building. He’s been granted rare access
to explore restricted areas of this necropolis. This is a pretty
exciting moment for me because I’ve never
been inside before. NARRATOR: This ancient
cemetery is home to 11 pyramids and hundreds of tombs. But one structure
dominates all others, the first pyramid ever built. This is where it all began. It is the first
monumental building in stone anywhere in the world. NARRATOR: Constructed
more than 4,500 years ago, this is the step pyramid tomb
of Pharaoh Djoser, a King of Egypt’s third dynasty. It’s a revolutionary
masterpiece designed by Egypt’s pioneer architect, Imhotep. His achievement was massive
not just for the Egyptians, but for humankind. [grandiose music] NARRATOR: Born as
a commoner, Imhotep rose to become Pharaoh Djoser’s
trusted advisor and eventually his chief architect. He invented the
stepped pyramid using stone blocks instead
of mud bricks, allowing him to
build ever bigger. More than 2,000 years
after Imhotep’s death, he was worshipped
as a god all the way up to Greek and Roman times. Chris wants to
discover for himself what inspired Imhotep to
design his groundbreaking step pyramid. He climbs to higher
ground to examine the shape of older burial
structures that surrounded. They’re called mastabas. And they are these sort of
squat, square platforms, slightly sloping,
inwardly inclining walls. NARRATOR: Chris
can make out traces of these simple structures
within Imhotep’s design. Now that we’re getting
closer to the pyramid, you can really see this
series of platforms, one on top of another. So the bottom one, in
some sense, is a mastaba. It’s just the addition of
these successive layers that make it into a pyramid. And it’s an incredible
achievement, architecturally. NARRATOR: Built from over
500,000 tons of limestone, constructed in the
mastaba-style layers, the step pyramid stands
over 200 feet high, then the tallest
building in the world. Its impact on the ancient
Egyptian landscape was huge. 10 more kings replicated
Imhotep’s design, determined to attain the
same status as the pharaoh of the first pyramid. Their tombs became some of the
most iconic sacred buildings on the planet, each growing the
necropolis until it stretched 5 miles across the
desert to create a sprawling city of the dead. Today, Imhotep’s
masterpiece still dominates the Egyptian desert. But while his structures
survive, no trace of the man himself has ever been found.
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