ANCIENT EGYPT- “PYRAMIDS”
There are days when the sand blows ceaselessly, blanketing the remains of a powerful dynasty that ruled Egypt 5,000 years ago. When the wind dies down and the sands are still, a long shadow casts a wedge of darkness across the Sahara, creeping ever longer as the north African sun sinks beyond the horizon. This is where our history of Egypt begins, in the shadow of the Great Pyramid of Giza, where stone meets sky as a testament to one of the greatest civilizations on earth. Here, on the plateau of Giza, 2,300,000 blocks of stone, some weighing as much as 9 tons, were used to build an eternal tomb for a divine king.
Five thousand years ago, the fourth dynasty of Egypt’s Old Kingdom was a highly advanced civilization where the kings, known as pharaohs, were believed to be gods. They lived amidst palaces and temples built to honor them and their deified ancestors. “Pharaoh” originally meant “great house,” but later came to mean king. What we know of this early society changes and is re-intepreted year by year as new archaeological finds discovered beneath the desert sands revise our understanding of ancient Egypt. This web site will show you science in action — bringing you face to face with the evidence archaeologists use to understand the meaning of Giza’s pyramids, and to the process of evaluating the finds they will uncover beneath the sands of the plateau.
ARCHITECTURAL CHARACTER OF ANCIENT EGYPTIANS
The primitive architecture in the valley of the Nile consisted of readily architectural character available tractable materials like reeds, papyrus and palm branch ribs. Plastered over with clay. With bundles of stems placed vertically side by side and lashed to a bundle placed horizontally near the top . Walls or fences could be made alternatively. Palm – leaf ribs were planted in the ground at short intervals, with others laced in a diagonal network across them and secured to a horizontal member near the top, the whole being daubed with mud afterwards. Buildings with circular plans could have domical coverings of similar construction, or if rectangular, could have a tunnel shaped covering or a flat roof. The pressure of the flat reed and mud roofs against the tops of the wall reeds may have produced the characteristic Egyptian ‘Gorge’ cornice, while the ‘Kheker’ cresting less frequently appearing in later architecture may have originated in the terminal tufts of a papyrus-stalk wall. The horizontal binders and angle bundles survived in the roll moulding of stone cornices and wall angles of the historic period .
A type of kiosk or pavilion which came to have a special religious significance in connection with the ‘Heb-sed’ or jubilee festivals of the Pharoahs though originally commonly used on Nile boats as well as on land- consisted of a light, rectangular structure open-fronted and with a porch carried on teo slender angle-shafts and having a slab-like roof arching from the back to the front. In the heb-sed ceremony, held at definite intervals of the years in the king’s reign. The Pharoah seated himself on a throne beneath such an awning. Raised on a high podium and approached by a flight of steps at the front.
Timber, once quite plentiful, was used for the better buildings in square heavy vertical plates lapping one in front of the other and producing an effect of composite buttresses joined at the head and enframing narrow panels ,in the upper parts of which window-vents might occur . Palm logs, rounded on the underside were sometimes used for roofs. All these various forms of construction produced their effects on matured art and architecture, and apart from timber, which had become scare by dynastic times, never entirely went out use.
Stone was not much employed before the third dynasty, except as rubble and as a stiffening or foundation to solid mud walls. Sun-dried mud brick walling never ceased to be employed, for it was only for the finest buildings of religious character that cut stone became normal. Even places remained always relatively frail. Made of Nile mud and mixed with chopped straw or sand, and thoroughly matured by exposure to the sun, the mud bricks were very long lasting, and large, about 14 inch long, 7 inch wide and 4 inch thick. For stability walls diminished course by course towards the top, chiefly because of the alternate shrinkage and expansion of the soil caused by the annual inundation. As the inner face of the walls had to be vertical for ordinary convenience, it was the outer face only which showed this inward inclination, are batter which remained through out the principal characteristics of Egyptian architecture whether in brick or stone. Sometimes fibres or reed mats were placed between the brick courses at interval up the walls, to reinforce them particularly at a buildings angles and lay development was the use of sagging concave courses, for alternate lengths of long wall built in advance of the intervening stretches, to allow the drying out of the inner brick work, since walls such as doors around the great temples enclosures were very thick between 9 metre and 24.5 metre .
Greek temples were each planned has one homogenous whole, and the component parts were all essential to the complete design, by some of the greatest Egyptian temples were but a string of successive buildings in height behind their imposing pylons.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE PYRAMIDS
It is believed that Giza housed a skeleton crew of workers who labored on the pyramids year round. But during the late summer and early autumn months, during the annual flooding of the fields with water from the annual innundation of the Nile flooded the fields, a large labor force would appear at Giza to put in time on the pyramids. These farmers and local villagers gathered at Giza to work for their god kings, to build their monuments to the hereafter. This would ensure their own afterlife and would also benefit the future and prosperity of Egypt as a whole. They may well have been willing workers, a labour force working for ample rations, for the benefit of man, king and country.
It was the Egyptians who built the pyramids. The Great Pyramid is dated 4600 years ago with all the evidence, the reign of Khufu. The Great Pyramid of Khufu is one of 104 pyramids in Egypt with superstructure. And there are 54 pyramids with substructure. There is support (that) the builders of the pyramids were Egyptians. They are not the Jews as has been said, they are not people from a lost civilization. They are not out of space. They are Egyptian and their skeletons are here, and were examined by scholars, doctors and the race of all the people we found are completely supporting that they are Egyptians.
The Greek historian Herodotus claimed in 500 B.C. that 100,000 people built the pyramids, and yet modern Egyptologists believe the figure to be more like 20,000 to 30,000. Herodotus, when he came here, met guides who tell stories and things like that. Based on the size of the settlement and the whole work of an area founded, it is believed that the permanent and temporary workmen worked at building the pyramid were 36,000.
It is concluded that based on the size of the pyramid, the size of the tombs, the cemetery 36,000 workers worked for 100s of years. It was really believed there were permanent workmen working for the king. They were paid by the king and these are the technicians who cut the stones, and there are workmen who move the stones and they come and work in rotation.
The royal Pyramids of the third dynasties are on sites distributed intermittently along the west side of the Nile for about fifty miles southward of the apex of the delta , standing on the rocky shelf clear of the cultivated land . Early royal tombs were of the mastaba type , from which the true Pyramid evolved , the most important stages being demonstrated by the early third dynasty ’step’ pyramid of the Pharoah Zoaser at Sakkara. Further stages of development are marked by one at Meydum and by two at Dahshur by Seneferu, first king of the Fourth Dynasty, including the so called ‘Bent’ Pyramid. The finest true pyramids are the famous three at Giza, built by the Fourth Dynasty successors of Seneferu .
THE PYRAMID OF MYKERINO
It is much smaller then its two predecessors at Giza, 109 metre square and 66.5 metre high, with the sides sloping at 51 degree. Much of the casing is reserved and is mainly Tura limestone but includes 16 base courses in granite.
The principal pyramids of the fifth and sixth dynasties, 2563 to 2263 B.C. all built at abusir and sakara, were infeerior in size and construction to those of the previous dynasty, and tomb chambers and their corrodors were simpler and more sterior typed in arrangement .
Menkaure, also known as Mycerinus, ruled from 2490-2472 B.C. He was the king of the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza, and is believed to be Khufu’s grandson.
DATES BUILT: Undetermined
TOTAL BLOCKS OF STONE: Unknown
TOTAL WEIGHT: Unknown
AVERAGE WEIGHT OF INDIVIDUAL BLOCKS OF STONE: Undetermined
BASE: 344 feet (105m) on each side
HEIGHT:Originally 215 feet(65.5m), now 203 feet(62 m)
ANGLE OF INCLINATION: 51 degree 20′ 25″
CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL:Limestone and red granite, sarcophagus made of basalt.
It is 449 feet above the plateau. Until early in this century this pyramid was tallest building on the earth. The wooden surveying tripord at the summit indicates the original height of Khufu which was 481 feet. The top stones have since fallen off or been removed. Note the graffiti that has been carved into the stones by previous visitors, some dating back to earlier centuries.
Other things to look for around the summit are the sphinx . Khufu’s boat pits, Khufu’s Queens’ Pyramids , greater Giza and Cairo, and ofcourse, Khafre’s pyramids. Climbing Khufu is prohibited hence we can enjoy the beautiful view.
Khafre, who was the son of Khufu, was also known as akhaef or Chephren. He ruled from 2520 – 2494 B.C. and is responsible for the second largest pyramid complex at Giza, which includes the Sphinx, a Mortuary Temple, and a Valley Temple. The most distinctive feature of Khafre’s Pyramid is the topmost layer of smooth stones that are the only remaining casing stones on a Giza Pyramid.
THE STEP PYRAMID OF ZOSER , SAKKARA
It is remarkable as being the world’s first large scale monument in stone. King Zoser architect Imhotep, was greatly revered both in his own and later times , and in the twenty sixth Dynasty was deified .The Pyramid itself shows no less than five changes of plan in the course of building . It began as a complete mastba 7.9 metre high, unusual in having a square plan ,with sided of 63 metre. It was then twice extended ,first by a extension east wards of 8.5 metre. These were tombs of the royal family. The tomb were sealed by the third extension of the mastaba. The architectural forms show clearly their derivation from earlier structures in reeds , timber or sun – dried bricks.
THE NORTH PYRAMID OF SENEFERU, DAHSHUR
It was made after the abandonment of the bent pyramid was the actual place of burial of Seneferu for near by are tombs of the royal family and officiating priests; It was designed and completed as true pyramid, the earliest known. The pitch of its sides however is unusually low 43degree 36 minutes instead of the usual 52 degree are so, and thus very similar to that of the upper part of the Bent Pyramid. For the rest the pyramid is normal.
THE GREAT PYRAMIDS OF CHEOPS
Cheops was the son of seneferu,and the 2nd king of the 4th dynasty. His pyramid, largest of the famous three on this site. It was originally 146.4metre high and 230.6 metre square on plan, with an area of about 13 acres. There are 3 separate internal chambers due to the changes of the plan in the course of the building. The subterranean chamber and the so called “Queen’s chamber” are discarded projects, abandoned in turn favour the “King’s chamber” were the granite sarcophagus is located. 5 tiers of great stone beams, 9 to a tier and together weighing about 406 tonnes. The pyramid built solidly of local stones originally cased in finely dressed tura limestone blocks and the apex stone perhaps guilded. The average weight of the blocks is 2500 kilograms.
THE PYRAMID AT MEYDUM
It is attributed to huni , last king of the third Dynasty.Though eventually completed as a true pyramid ,at one stage it was a seven stepped structure ,contrived by building six thick layers of maasonry each faced with Tura limestone , against a nucleus with sides sloping steeply at 75 degree there was then a addition of a fresh layer all round ,raising the number of stteps to eight . These again were faced with Tura limestone ,dressed only where the faces showed . Thus both the seven and eight step pyramids had at the time been regarded as finished .
THE PYRAMID OF CHEPHREN
It is the second of the three at Giza and only alittle less large than the great pyramid 216 metre side and 143 metre high, has a steeper slope of 52 degree 20 minutes. There is only one chamber at the core , partly in the rock and partly built up, but two approaches to ti from the north onbe through the stone work and the other subtereranian , these joining half way. A little to the north west of the valley building is the great sphinx of cheprehen. The colossal enigmatic monster carved from a spur of rock left by cheops’ quarry masons. The sculpture is 73.2 metre long and 20 metre height the face being 4.1 metre across. Deficiencies in the rock were made good in the stone work. Between the forepaws is the large inscribed granite steel.
THE PYRAMID OF SAHURA, ABUSIR
It is remarkable for the triple series of enormous paired stone false arches which cover its tomb chamber. It is representative of 5th and 6th dynasty practice in several important particulars. Its complex still has the old elements of valley building, causeway and mortuary temple. But the offering chapel is now incorporated in the temple. In decoration wall reliefs, are profules-a feature which applies also to the contemporary mastabas. For example, the mastaba of Thi. Particularly important architecturally was the use of granite , free standing columns with reeded or plain shafts, and lotus, papyrus or palm capitals, replacing the wholly plains and square pillars of the 4th dynasty buildings.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
and architectural activities.
Then, we also come across various type of pyramids such as Royal pyramids, the Step pyramid, the great pyramids of Cheops, pyramids of Chephren and so on. From this, the secrets beyond the most of the pyramids in Egypt are known to us.
Thus we come to a conclusion that pyramids are man made gift to this world so why they are placed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Beyond this there are various secrets of the pyramids which cannot be learned with this short period of life.