Djoser

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In contemporary inscriptions, he is called Netjerikhet, meaning body of the gods. Later sources, which include a New Kingdom reference to his Step Pyramid, help confirm that Netjerikhet and Djoser are the same person.

While Manetho names one Necherophes, and the Turin King List names Nebka, as the first ruler of the Third dynasty, some contemporary Egyptologists believe Djoser was the first king of this dynasty, pointing out that the order in which some predecessors of Khufu are mentioned in the Papyrus Westcar suggests that Nebka should be placed between Djoser and Huni, and not before Djoser.

Manetho also states Djoser ruled for 29 years, while the Turin King List states it was for 19. It is possible that Manetho's number is a mistake for the earlier Turin King List; and it is possible that the author of the Turin King List confused the bi-annual cattle censuses as years, and that Djoser actually reigned for 37 or 38 years. Because of his many building projects, particularly at Saqqara, some scholars argue that Djoser must have ruled for at least 29 years.

View of Saqqara necropolis, including Djoser's  Photograph courtesy of   http://classroomclipart.com Classroom Clipart
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View of Saqqara necropolis, including Djoser's step pyramid Photograph courtesy of http://classroomclipart.com Classroom Clipart

Because Queen Nimaethap, the wife of Khasekhemwy the last king of the Second dynasty, appears to have held the title of "Mother of the King", some writers argue that she was Djoser's mother and Khasekhemwy was his father. Three royal women are known from during his reign: Inetkawes, Hetephernebti and a third one whose name is destroyed. One of them might have been his wife, and the one whose name is lost may have been Nimaethap. The relationship between Djoser and his successor, Sekhemkhet, is not known.

Djoser sent several military expeditions to the Sinai Peninsula, during which the local inhabitants were subdued. He also sent expeditions to the Sinai where they mined for valuable minerals like turquoise and copper. It was also strategically important as a buffer between Asia and the Nile valley. He also may have fixed the southern boundary of his kingdom at the First Cataract.

Some fragmentary reliefs found at Heliopolis and Gebelein mention Djoser's name and suggest that he had commissioned construction projects in those cities. An inscription claiming to date to the reign of Djoser, but actually created during the Ptolemaic Dynasty, relates how Djoser rebuilt the temple of the god Khnum on the island of Elephantine at the First Cataract, thus ending a famine in Egypt. While this inscription is but a legend, it does show that more than two millennia after his reign, Djoser was still remembered.

See also: Pyramid of Djoser

Other spellings of his name include: Zoser, Dzoser, Dsr, Djeser, Zoser, Zosar, Dj鳥r, Dj鳨r, Horus-Netjerikhet, Horus-Netjerichet.

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Preceded by:
Sanakhte
Pharaoh of Egypt
Third Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Sekhemkhet
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