Published here, September, 2001.

Introduction | Pyramids | Scope Creep | Management
Implications | Craft-Work | Thinkers | Future

Starting with the Pyramids

For example, some of these problems were encountered in the construction of the earliest pyramid at Saqqara in Egypt, which was the first stone building of any size to be found in the world. It was commissioned by King Zoser of the third dynasty and while the king was the "sponsor" of this project, the "project manager" was one of his ministers, Imhotep.

We are told that "Although no trustworthy details of the lives of Zoser and Imhotep have come down, we can be sure that they were able men who worked long and effectively together. Probably Imhotep was a universal genius like Archimedes and Leonardo da Vinci. Such was his repute as a physician, architect, writer, statesman, and all-round sage that in later times collections of wise sayings circulated under his name."[1]

Thus was born the reputation of the project manager. This particular project was not without its own problems, however. The account goes on "[previously] ... Egyptian kings and nobles were buried in a tomb called a mastaba ... [but] ... Zoser and Imhotep ... built a stone mastaba of unusual size and shape. It was square instead of oblong like its predecessors, and was over 200 feet on a side and 26 feet high.

"Not yet satisfied, Zoser and Imhotep enlarged this mastaba twice by adding stone to the sides. Before. the second of these enlargements was completed, the king changed his mind again. He decided not only to enlarge the structure still further, but also to make it into a stepped pyramid, resembling four square mastabas of decreasing size piled one atop the other. Then Zoser changed his mind once more. The tomb ended as a stepped pyramid of six stages, 200 feet high on abase 358 by 411 feet ..."

Introduction  Introduction

1. Sprague de Camp, L., The Ancient Engineers, Ballantine Books, New York, February 1974, p2l.
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