The Southern Tomb  

The Southern Tomb  

The South tomb is located at the southwestern corner of the King Djoser funeral complex dating to the 3rd Dynasty, Old Kingdom period. This magnificent complex is the oldest stone building of the ancient world. Basically, it was named the “Southern Tomb” following its discovery by the English archaeologist Cecil Malaby Firth in 1928.

Significantly, the tomb is composed of an upper level in the form of a rectangular stone building. Its walls are decorated with a series of stone sockets in the form of entrances and exits, crowned by a frieze of cobra heads that symbolize protection and power.

Regarding the lower level of the tomb represents an entrance towards a ramp leading to the burial chamber, which is located at the bottom of a great shaft measuring 7.5 x 7.5 m, and with a depth of approximately 31 m, including a huge sarcophagus made of 16 blocks of pink granite, each measuring approximately 3.60 metres high, 3.5 metres wide, and 3.6 metres long.  Furthermore, one can note the similarity between the well and the sarcophagus with those inside the step pyramid.

One of the most important architectural and decorative elements of the Southern Tomb are a series of corridors, one of which contains three false doors, each topped with exquisite reliefs depicting the king taking part in the Heb-Sed Festival. This was a vital event, a royal jubilee, with the aim to rejuvenate the king and renew his right to rule. One can admire the king here being represented wearing the royal beard, as well as the White Crown of Upper Egypt, and several walls of the southern tomb’s corridors are decorated with the same blue faience tiles into the step pyramid.

Various theories have been proposed about this tomb, as it is believed that it belonged to the royal wife of the king, or that it was built in order to house the internal organs of the king (lungs, stomach, intestines and liver).

The famous French Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer undertook many important and vital excavations at Saqqara, including the restoration and reconstruction of Djoser’s Step Pyramid Complex throughout a period of over 70 years. Lauer believed that this South Tomb was a symbolic burial for the king’s soul, replacing the royal tomb at Abydos (in Sohag governorate).

In 2006, restoration work of the South Tomb began, this involved conservation and restoration work of the lower corridors, the strengthening of the walls and ceilings, the fixing of the blue faience tiles to complete the interior inscriptions in the tomb, besides the reassembly and restoration of the granite sarcophagus. In addition, this conservation project also involved the paving of floors and the installation of the ladder, as well as fully lit inside and outside to provide the visitor an enhanced and enjoyable experience.

Location