- Slides: 20
The Pyramids of Egypt’s pyramids are the oldest stone buildings in the world. They were built nearly 5000 years ago. These ancient tombs are among the world’s largest structures. The biggest is taller than a 40 story building and covers an area greater than that of ten football fields. Sometimes up to 100, 000 men worked for 20 seasons on one pyramid.
The Pyramids of Egypt More than 80 pyramids still stand today. There are secret passageways, hidden rooms, ramps, bridges, and false doors. The pyramids were built for kings, or pharaohs, to protect their bodies for the after death. Egyptians believed that a pharaoh buried in grand style would continue to bless his people. The average weight of a pyramid’s stone block was 2½ tons! That’s the weight of 2 medium-sized cars. Some blocks weigh up to 15 tons!
Now. . . The Great Pyramid of Giza, the largest of the three Giza pyramids?
Earliest times The first Egyptians were buried in the desert in shallow pits. The desert’s hot sand preserved the body, naturally mummifying it. The dead were buried under a pile of rocks. Bodies were wrapped in goatskin or reed mats. Personal goods were placed around the body.
MASTABA TOMBS Around 3000 B. C. , kings and high officials began to build large, flat-topped tombs we call mastabas. Each mastaba contained a burial chamber and rooms filled with goods. Mastaba tombs were made of sunbaked mud bricks, which gave protection against the harmful effects of nature. On the walls of mastabas were carved painted scenes called reliefs. Some reliefs showed rows of people bringing offerings.
Stairway to Heaven The first pyramid was built out of stone around 2700 B. C. It is known as the Step Pyramid and consisted of six steps. Imhotep is credited with the invention of the Step Pyramid. He built it for King Zoser so that he could climb the stairs to reach the gods when he died. It served two purposes: it was a royal tomb and a temple for worshipping the spirit of the dead king.
Building a Pyramid The Great Pyramid of Giza was built for Pharaoah Khufu. The pyramid contained over two million blocks of limestone. To complete the Great Pyramid of Giza, one huge stone block must have been quarried, shaped, and smoothed every 2 minutes for 23 years! Two kinds of rocks were used – limestone and granite. Building plans showing how the pyramids were built have never been found. However, experts use present knowledge about construction to make intelligent guesses. Building a pyramid was difficult and dangerous. It required a highly organized society and thousands of workers.
Steps to Building a Pyramid Step One: The enormous limestone blocks were taken off the boats near the pyramid site. If one block accidentally fell, it could crush to death hundreds of people.
Step Two: Once unloaded, the limestone blocks were hauled on sledges over wooden rollers by gangs of men. Water or milk was poured around the sledges to help them slide.
Step Three: Ramps, built of mud brick, were used to haul the heavy stones to the level where building was going on. To raise the stones higher, spiraling ramps were probably put against the pyramid sides.
Step Four: A causeway connected each pyramid to the Nile River. Built as a highway for the sledges, it eventually served as a corridor for the funeral procession.
Location of the Pyramids Religious and practical reasons controlled where the pyramids were built. 1. Pyramids had to be on the west side of the Nile River, where the sun set. 2. They had to be built close to the Nile so boats could carry the stones to the construction site. 3. They had to be built high above the level of the river so no damage would occur during the flood season. 4. Each side of the pyramid had to face one of the four cardinal points – north, south, east, and west. 5. A pyramid had to be close to the pharaoh’s palace so he could keep any eye on his “castle of eternity”.
Valley of the kings By 1600 B. C. , robbers had ransacked, or taken the treasures, from most of the pyramids. Later pharaohs decided that their bodies would be safer in hidden tombs cut from solid rock. Many of these pharaohs are buried in the Valley of the Kings. King Tut was buried in the Valley of the Kings. Practically untouched by robbers, his tomb contained weapons, furniture, jewelry, musical instruments, clothing, model boats – many made of solid gold. These isolated tombs were built near the isolated cliffs near Thebes. 62 tombs have been found there. However, even these tombs were robbed.
Pyramids Around the World The pyramids of Egypt were built over a span of one thousand years. The most splendid ones date from about 2700 B. C. to 2200 B. C. Pyramids, however, have been built in many parts of the world at various times. All of these pyramids contain certain essential elements. * They are enormous. * They have rectangular bases. * Most are made of stone or brick. * Most have four sloping sides that meet at a point.
The Castillo Located in Chichen Itza, Mexico, this pyramid is known as the great pyramid. It was probably built between A. D. 900 and A. D. 1200.
The pyramid at the Louvre This pyramid is located in Paris, France, and is a transparent glass pyramid that rises to 71 feet. It was designed by an architecture firm and serves as an entrance to the museum.
Great American Pyramid This pyramid opened in 1991 and overlooks the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee. It is 321 feet high and covers about 6. 8 acres. It is a monument to American music.