The newest pyramids of ancient Egypt
have a pyramidal form, with four congruent triangular sides that meet at a point at the
top. Pyramids were built from circa 2700 BC to circa 1000 BC as tombs for royalty.
Originally, the tombs were shaped like rectangular prisms. Then, about 2630 BC, Pharaoh
Djoser built the first step pyramid at Saqqara as his tomb. At the time, his six-tier
pyramid was the largest building in the world, standing 204 feet high. Around 2600 BC,
Pharaoh Snefru built the first real pyramid (with smooth sides instead of tiers) which
stood 341 feet high; later, his son, Khufu, built the Great Pyramid of GÓza. Architects
tested several slopes on the new pyramids they built and discovered that unless the sides
were built at a certain slope, the pyramid would implode on itself or collapse. When this
was discovered, all of the Egyptian pyramids were built to conform to a strict geometrical
plan and a specific slope.
The most extraordinary group of Egyptian pyramids is at GÓza along with
the Great Sphinx of Khafre. The largest of these structures is the Great Pyramid, built as
the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, and, it is one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World. When
it was built, the Great Pyramid was 481 feet high and had a square base that was 756 feet
wide on each side.
The pyramids at GÓza in Egypt, are some of the most famous pieces
of architecture in the world. The Pyramid of Khafre was constructed to serve as the final
resting place of the pharaoh Khafre in about 2530 BC. This pyramid is about 446 feet high
and was built without using cranes, pulleys, or lifting tackle. Archaeologists are still
not sure how the Egyptians accomplished this.
smooth sided pyramid was built from the Dynasty IV and on. They were built by first having
men chisel the block of granite the way that they wanted it. The stonemasons used special
rods to check that a stone block was cut accurately. Next, the blocks stayed in the quarry
until the flood season. They did this so they could use barges to haul over the heavy
granite blocks. Once the boast had arrived near the pyramid and unloaded the blocks, they
were hauled up a ramp. Then, ropes and levers were used to maneuver the huge blocks into
position. The overseer checked that every block was laid correctly. Once all of the
granite blocks were placed in place, laborers rubbed the casing blocks with polishing
stones until they would shine in the sun. The overseers used plump lines to check that the
angle of the slope was correct.
As for the finishing touches, workers placed hieroglyphics around the
pyramid as well as many statues. There were also a lot of bright and vibrant colored
columns. There were also one or two large boats buried near the tomb so the king to have a
peaceful sail over to the Next World.
for the path that leads up to the pyramid, there was first the Valley Temple. When the
king died, his body was first rowed across the Nile to the Valley Temple to be mummified.
Next, there was the causeway. This was a covered processional way which came from the
Valley Temple. The walls on the inside were decorated many times, and there were holes in
the roof to provide light. At the end of the Causeway, there was the Mortuary Temple. This
was built against the side of the pyramid. The Mortuary Temple was the place where priests
made offerings to the king's spirit every day for eternity. To the left of the Mortuary
Temple, can be found the queen's pyramid. Much smaller than the kings pyramid, this was
where the king would bury his wife.
The number of granite blocks were enormous. There had to be a huge
quarry to supply the huge demand. And of course, there were many accidents at the
construction site. There were doctors on the site, but little helped for sprained or
broken body parts. Eventually, the whole pyramid was built, and all of the sweat and toil
paid off. To learn more about the Ancient Egyptian pyramids, see The Evolution of the
Evolution of the Pyramids
The pyramids of Ancient Egypt went through many
changes before they took on the geometric shape that we are accustomed to seeing. Egyptian
tombs originally began as a simple pit in the sandy desert that was lined with a reed mat.
Pharaohs and commoners were buried in the same fashion. As Egyptian religious beliefs
developed, pharaohs were buried with artifacts that were necessary in the afterlife. Due
to vandalism, and the increasing number of artifacts that were buried with wealthy kings,
the pit became a rectangular hole lined with mud bricks or timber. A mound was created
over the burial site, which was supported by timber poles and covered with bricks. These
covered mounds were known as mastabas.
Over the years, the interior of mastabas became increasingly elaborate
with the intention of confusing tomb robbers, and to allow more room to hold a pharaoh's
possessions for the afterlife. The tunnel that accessed the sunken burial chamber was
filled with sand, rubble, and stone barriers. The entrance was then disguised to look like
part of the wall. Portraits of servants would be painted on the interior walls to serve
their master his afterlife. Tombs for a pharaoh's servants were constructed around the
King's mastaba for the same reason. Beginning in 3,200 B.C., the exterior of a King's
mastaba was decorated with ornate brickwork imitating timber and reed matting. Though
extensive measures were taken, these tombs were often robbed, because the design was
common among all mastabas.
With the conclusion of Zoser's reign, the mastaba underwent more
developments. Stone replaced mud brick in construction, and two false doorways were added
to the eastern face for the use of the pharaoh's ba, meaning soul. An inner room of the
mastaba, called the serdab, was used to house a statue of the buried king that could house
the ba if the body was disturbed for any reason. A narrow slit in the far wall of the
serdab allowed the ba access to the outside world. As an extra precaution, the pharaoh's
name was carved into the base of the statue in case it was destroyed.
The first Egyptian pyramid was created for King Zoser by the architect
Imhotep. The concept of the stone mastaba was transformed into a four level tomb
consisting of stacked mastabas that decreased in size as they reached the peak. The steps
that the pyramid formed were believed to act as a ladder that the dead king took to reach
the gods. In Zoser's pyramid, the burial chamber was located at the bottom of a 92 ft.
shaft. The chamber entrance could be reached by travelling down a sloping passage
originating at the north face. A series of Gallery Rooms were located at the bottom of the
shaft, and led into the King's burial chamber which was lined with timber and blue tiles.
The serdab and offering chapels were in a temple on the north face of the pyramid that
contained two open courtyards, several chapels, and storerooms. The temple was roofed with
stone slabs that were carved and painted to represent the earlier palm-trunk ceilings.
After the creation of the first step-pyramids, the design was modified
to have smooth, limestone faces. The steps of the inner pyramid were covered in
hand-chiseled limestone taken from the quarries of Aswan farther down the Nile River. The
appearance in the day of the Ancient Egyptians was that of a shimmering white mountain.
The inspiration for sloping the sides of the pyramids came from an image formed by the
sun's rays breaking through the clouds. It was intended to bring the buried pharaoh closer
to the sun god Re.
The first true pyramid was constructed for King Snefru at Medium. The
burial chamber was only accessible by a small tunnel in the north face with a 28 degree
slope. The famous bent pyramid at Dahshur has sides that originally sloped at 54 degrees.
Midway through the project, cracks began to appear due to the steep slope. From this point
on, architects changed the slope to a gentler 43 degrees, which became the standard for
******The section: The Evolution the Pyramids, was written
and donated to our site from James Arndt, who was a former web designer for this team.
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