The pyramids of Egypt are the last remaining Wonder of the World. Evenin the days of Ancient Egypt when powerful pharaohs ruled over Egypt thepyramids were considered a wonder. Today, the ruins of 35 pyramids still standnear the Nile River in Egypt. These pyramids were built to protect the bodies ofEgyptian kings and other royalty but before the pyramids became the standardfor burials, tombs were used for Egypts early rulers, nobles, and otherhigh-ranking officials. These groups of hierarchy were laid to rest in rectangular,flat-topped mastabas of mud and brick.
These mastabas were about 12 feet highand were easy targets for tomb robbers. The first pyramid built was the Step Pyramid of Saqqara; it stands in theopen desert south of Cairo. The Step Pyramid was built for King Djoser. Thepeople of Egypt willingly labored to build these monuments for their rulers,believing that, as gods, the pharaohs had to be properly provided for in theirafterlife. The Step Pyramid was built around 2630 BC It exhibited a radical newshape never before used, and it was so new the Egyptians used its silhouettesas the hieroglyphic for primeval mound, the first piece of earth to emerge fromthe soup of creation (Malek 90).
King Djosers chief architect for his pyramid was Imhotep. It is thought thatKing Djosers stone tomb started out having the standard shape of mastabas.
Then, as construction progressed, a concept evolved. Imhotep began to placeone flat-topped stone structure atop another until he had created six steps bywhich the king could ascent to the heavens after death. The Egyptians had afirm belief in an afterlife and viewed their pharaohs as gods. These beliefs werea strong force that led to the piling up of stones to such a monumental scale.
The Step Pyramid rose to a height of 204 feet; later pyramids increased in heightas their designs changed. It was not sufficient that a pyramid be immense, but ithad to be built so solidly that it would stand forever. Although the Step Pyramid was the first pyramid, the Great Pyramid is thebest known. The Great Pyramid was built for King Cheops. It is the largestpyramid of the three at Giza. The three pyramids built for King Cheops, KingChephrun, and King Mycerinos stand on the west bank of the Nile outside Cairo.
They are the largest and best preserved of all Egyptian pyramids. They werebuilt between 2600 BC and 2500 BC However, it is hard today to imagine themanpower involved in building the Great Pyramid (especially in our world ofcomputers, machinery, and advanced technology). The ancient Egyptians hadno machinery or iron tools to help in the building of the pyramids. The largelimestone blocks used to build the pyramids were cut with copper chisels andsaws. Most of these stones came from nearby quarries. An interesting fact tonote is that camels were not brought into use until twenty centuries after thepyramids were built. Human strength was used to drag the stones from thequarries or from the boats (Casson 76). The stones were then dragged andpushed into place for the first layer of the Great Pyramid, which was placed onflat level ground. Next, long ramps were built of earth and brick moving theblocks up the ramps to form the next layer. After the top layer was finished theworkers covered the pyramid with an outer coating of white casing stone, whichgave the Great Pyramid a brilliant shrine during the day when the sun shonedown on it. The outer coating of white casing stone were laid so perfectly thatfrom a distance the pyramid appeared to have been made from a single whitestone. The main difference of the Great Pyramid compared to other pyramids,besides the fact of its size, is the difference of the location of the burial chamber.
The Great Pyramids burial chamber was in the uppermost part of the pyramid.
This was something new; burial chambers in other pyramids were locatedbeneath the pyramid. To reach the burial chamber inside the Great Pyramid anupward sloping corridor was built. The ramp for the kings ascent to the polarstars was therefore lost. A substitute for the ramp was devised in the form of anorthern ventilation shaft, which was a replica of the lower entrance corridor.
King Cheops was to be positioned facing this northern view. But what of KingCheops? His body has never been found. Did he have a secret chamber built forhimself that was so well hidden that it was impossible to find? Did thieves stealor destroy King Cheops body for the jewels and gold hidden within the bodywrapping? Answers to these questions have yet to be found. It is estimated that it took about 2,300,000 separate blocks, eachweighing an average of two and a half tons, to build King Cheops GreatPyramid. Some blocks weighed up to fifteen tons. The base of the Great Pyramidcovered thirteen acres and reached a height of 481 feet. To accomplish the featof building the Great Pyramid it took 23 years and a work force of tens ofthousands peasant laborers (Hallibunton 335). The enormous size of the GreatPyramid can better be visualized with the fact that Saint Pauls Cathedral andthe House of Parliament could be housed within the Great Pyramid. If the GreatPyramid was sawed into cubes, measuring a foot in each dimension and placedin a row, they would extend over a distance almost equal to the circumference ofthe earth (Edwards 104). It is no wonder the Great Pyramid is still a Wonder ofthe World. All pyramids, no matter their size, design, or age, share a common curse.
Tomb robbers have plundered the pyramids for centuries stealing gold, gems,beautiful furniture, clothing, musical instruments, and even sacred vasescontaining a pharaohs vital organs. All these items were common items foundinside a burial chamber. Now they have all been lost forever because of tombrobbers of today and yesterday. The well known Arabic proverb Death comeson wings to he who enters the tomb of the pharaoh (Casson 81) meant little tothe tomb robbers. Others who have heard the warning and chose not to listen orbelieve have eventually paid the price. One such person was Lord Carnarvon,who headed the excavation of King Tutankhamuns tomb. Lord Carnarvon diedquite unexpectedly from a 4000 year old fungus he came in contact with insidethe tomb of King Tutankhamun. Shortly after Lord Carnarvon died, othermembers of the excavation party began to meet with unusual and sometimesunexplainable accidents. These so called accidents claimed the lives of thirty sixmembers of the party (Reeves 31). Was it the pharaohs curse or justcoincidence? In Las Vegas, Nevada the hotel-casino Luxor was built. The Luxor wasbuilt in the shape of a pyramid. A replica of the Sphinx sits in front of the giantpyramid shape casino. When the hotel was being built a report was given, andthe construction workers interviewed were afraid of the pyramid shaped casino.
The workers believed in the Curse of the Pharaohs. The numerous accidentshad sent other workers to the local hospital emergency room. Other Las Vegascasinos are blaming their misfortunes on Luxor. It is no wonder that magic,superstition, and the unknown has followed mankind since the earlier times ofthe first mysterious pyramids. Works Cited Casson, Lionel. Ancient Egypt. New York: Time Life. 1965. Edwards, I.E.S. The Pyramids of Egypt. New York: Viking Penguin. 1985. Hallibunton, Richard. Complete Book of Marvels. New York: Bobbs Merrill. 1960. Malek, Jaromin. In the Shadow of the Pyramid. Oklahoma: University ofOklahoma. 1986. Reeves, Nicholas. Into the Mummys Tomb. New York: Scholastic. 1992. Words/ Pages : 1,223 / 24
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