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Netjerikhet or Djoser (Turin King List "Dsr-it"; Manetho "Tosarthros") is the best-known pharaoh of the Third dynasty of Egypt. He commissioned his official, Imhotep, to build the first of the pyramids, a step pyramid for him at Saqqara. Variants of his name include Zoser, Dzoser, Zozer, Dsr, Djeser, Djésèr, Horus-Netjerikhet, and Horus-Netjerichet.

There has been significant controversy about dating the reigns of the Old Kingdom, but radiocarbon dates now indicate that Djoser's reign began sometime between 2691 to 2625 BC.[2]

The painted limestone statue of Djoser, now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, is the oldest known life-sized Egyptian statue. Today at the site in Saqqara where it was found, a plaster copy of the statue stands in place of the original. The statue was found during the Antiquities Service Excavations of 1924-1925.

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

While Manetho names Necherophes and the Turin King List names Nebka as the first ruler of the Third dynasty, many Egyptologists now believe Djoser was first king of this dynasty, pointing out that the order in which some predecessors of Khufu are mentioned in the Papyrus Westcar suggests Nebka should be placed between Djoser and Huni, not before Djoser. More significantly, the English Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson has demonstrated that burial seals found at the entrance to Khasekhemwy's tomb in Abydos name only Djoser, rather than Nebka. This supports the view that it was Djoser who buried, and hence directly succeeded, Khasekhemwy, rather than Nebka.[3]


Reign length

Manetho states Djoser ruled Egypt for twenty-nine years, while the Turin King List states it was only nineteen years. Because of his many substantial building projects, particularly at Saqqara, some scholars argue Djoser must have enjoyed a reign of nearly three decades. Manetho's figure appears to be more accurate, according to Wilkinson's analysis and reconstruction of the Royal Annals. Wilkinson reconstructs the Annals as giving Djoser "28 complete or partial years", noting that the cattle counts recorded on Palermo Stone register V, and Cairo Fragment 1 register V, for the beginning and ending of Djoser's reign, would most likely indicate his regnal Years 1-5 and 19-28.[4]


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