Statue of Djoser, Pharaoh of Dynasty III, c 2700 BC, limestone, Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Djoser was probably the first king of the third dynasty which inaugurated the period of the Old Kingdom in
c 2700 BC. Even from this early period the status of the pharaoh was well defined. Seated majestically on his throne, Djoser looks straight ahead to an unidentified horizon (in its original placing in the step pyramid complex he was looking towards the north). His right arm is crossed on his chest holding emblems of royalty, which could symbolize his social and political authority. He is wearing ceremonial robes, symbolizing thus his religious role in the Egyptian society. The rigidity of the posture, the austerity of the facial characteristics, the gaze towards infinity, even the stylized wig and beard all give a sense of eternity, stability and order.
The pharaoh was considered divine, a living god, the only one who had reserved eternal life even after his death. At the same time, he served as an intermediary between the gods and humans, his presence ensured stability and order in the human world. His role was therefore considered crucial for the survival of the people he ruled. These attributes of the king must have been formed as early as Djoser’s period in the beginning of the Old Kingdom. Some scholars believe that they were part of the Egyptian beliefs even in earlier times. This statue of Djoser certainly embodies them, and its survival until the modern times certainly offers somehow to this pharaoh eternity.