Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Pharaoh of Egypt
3rd Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Hellenized: Tosorthros
Alternative spelling: Zoser
19 or 28 years
Praenomen Netjerikhetnebu
Divine Body of Gold
Horus name Netjerikhet
Divine Body
Golden Horus Nubhor
Golden Horus
Father Khasekhemwy
Mother Nimaathap
Consort(s) Hotephirnebty
Issue Intkaes
Burial Step Pyramid

Netjerikhet Djoser (Turin King List "Dsr-it"; Manetho "Tosarthros") is the best-known Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty, for commissioning the official Imhotep to build his Step Pyramid at Saqqara.

The painted limestone statue of Djoser in the Cairo Museum is the oldest known Egyptian life-size statue. Today at the site in Saqqara in which it was found, a plaster copy of the statue stands in place of the original at the museum. 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 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, many Egyptologists now believe that 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. 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 proves that Djoser buried and, hence, directly succeeded Khasekhemwy and not Nebka. (Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge, 1999, pp.83 & 95)

Reign Length[]



Manetho states that Djoser ruled Egypt for 29 years, from about 1766 to 1874.While the Turin King List states it was only 19 years. Because of his many substantial building projects, particularly at Saqqara, some scholars argue that Djoser must have enjoyed a reign approaching nearly three decades. According to Toby Wilkinson's analysis and reconstruction of the Palermo Stone in 2000, Manetho's figure appears to be more accurate from evidence gathered by Toby Wilkinson in his analysis of the Palermo Stone--which mentions the beginning and end of Djoser's reign. Wilkinson states that the Annal document gives Djoser "28 complete or partial years" and notes that Years 1-5 and 19-28 of his reign are preserved on Palermo Stone register V and Cairo Fragment 1, register V of the document. (Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt, pp.79 & 258)


Because Queen Nimaathap, 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, whose name is destroyed. One of them might have been his wife, and the one whose name is lost may have been Nimaathap. The relationship between Djoser and his successor, Sekhemkhet, is not known.


Pyramid Djoser

Pyramid of Djoser

Djoser dispatched several military expeditions to the Sinai Peninsula, during which the local inhabitants were subdued. He also sent expeditions to the Sinai which were mined for valuable minerals such as turquoise and copper. The Sinai 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 seven year famine in Egypt. Some consider this ancient inscription as but a legend. Nonetheless, it does show that more than two millennia after his reign, Egyptians still remembered Djoser.

Other spellings of his name include: Zoser, Dzoser, Zozer (or Zozzer), Dsr, Djeser, Zosar, Djéser, Djésèr, Horus-Netjerikhet, Horus-Netjerichet.

External links[]


  • Rosanna Pirelli, "Statue of Djoser" in Francesca Tiradriti (editor), The Treasures of the Egyptian Museum, American University in Cairo Press, 1999, p. 47.
  • Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge, (Routledge:1999), pp.83 & 95
  • Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt: The Palermo Stone and Its Associated Fragments, (Kegan Paul International), 2000.
Pharaoh of Egypt
Third Dynasty