When a pharaoh died he was buried in a tomb designed to protect his body forever. This tomb was called a pyramid. The theory behind the tomb was that if a pharaoh’s body were destroyed, his Ka (soul) would have nowhere to go and would die. If his Ka died, he would not be able to be united with the sun. This in turn would cause the gods to become angry, and they would no longer protect the land or people of the pharaoh. At least, this is what the pyramids started out to be. They soon became not only a final resting place, but a symbol of power.
The first pyramid built was for King Djoser. This pyramid and a few after were called Step Pyramids. These pyramids had steps from the top to the bottom. This was supposed to represent a gigantic stairway for the king to climb to join the sun god in the sky. It was during King Sneferu’s reign of power that the true pyramid, with smooth, sloping sides was built. This pyramid was to represent the mound upon which Amun-Re stood to call the other gods and goddesses . These pyramids were built with winding passageways, false doors, and walls of granite. Most of the pyramid, however, was solid. The actual entrance to the burial tomb was disguised to look like the outer surface of the pyramid. All of these precautions were seemingly in vain. By around 1000 b.c. grave robbers had ransacked most, if not all, the pyramids.
The largest, and most famous, pyramid is the Great Pyramid located in the Giza plateau, near Cairo. This pyramid was built for the pharaoh Khufu (Cheops). Over two million blocks of limestone were used, and it took over twenty years to build. The base of the Great Pyramid covers the size of almost ten football fields. Even with their primitive tools, the Egyptians cut the base so that it misses being perfectly proportioned by only a few inches. They also cut the outer and inner blocks so precisely that a knife blade won’t fit between the stones. Lastly, the pyramid was built so that it faces exactly the four cardinal directions. There is another mystery concerning the Great Pyramid: the tomb chamber contains an empty coffin. No one knows if King Khufu was actually ever buried there, or if the pyramid served a different purpose all together. There are two other smaller pyramids located in the same region. The three pyramids together are known as the Giza Pyramids. The Giza pyramids were the first of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.
The picture to the left is a layout of King Tutankhamen's tomb. You can see all the precautions that were taken to prevent grave robbers from ransacking the tomb. The picture below is of the Pyramids of Giza:
Mycerinus, Chephren, Cheops (left to right as shown below)
This picture is the Step Pyramid of Zoser, Saqqara, near Cairo. It is the oldest standing structure in the world.
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