The pyramids of Egypt

Essay by NEIL MAYERCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 1996

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Pyramids

The pyramids of Egypt are the last remaining Wonder of the World. Even in the days of Ancient Egypt when powerful pharaohs ruled over Egypt the pyramids were considered a wonder. Today, the ruins of 35 pyramids still stand near the Nile River in Egypt. These pyramids were built to protect the bodies of Egyptian kings and other royalty but before the pyramids became the standard for burials, tombs were used for Egypt's early rulers, nobles, and other high ranking officials. This group of hierarchy were laid to rest in rectangular, flat-topped mastabas of mud and brick. These mastabas were about 12 feet high and were easy targets for tomb robbers.

The first pyramid built was the Step Pyramid of Saqqara; it stands in the open desert south of Cairo. The Step Pyramid was built for King Djoser. The people of Egypt willingly labored to build these monuments for their rulers, believing that, as gods, the pharaohs had to be properly provided for in their afterlife.

The Step Pyramid was built around 2630 B.C. It exhibited a radical new shape never before used, and it was so new the Egyptians used its silhouettes as the hieroglyphic for "primeval mound", the first piece of earth to emerge from the soup of creation (Malek 90).

King Djoser's chief architect for his pyramid was Imhotep. It is thought that King Djoser's stone tomb started out having the standard shape of a mastaba. Then, as construction progressed, a concept evolved. Imhotep began to place one flat-topped stone structure atop another until he had created six steps by which the king could ascent to the heavens after death. The Egyptians had a firm belief in an afterlife and viewed their pharaohs as gods. These beliefs were a strong force that led...