Building Of The Pyramids

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Giza and the Great Pyramids This paper is primarily concerned with the tangible and visible memorials of the Old Kingdom, with special focus on the site of Giza, Egypt, during the reigning period of the IV dynasty. The pyramid complex, including the Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkare, as well as other tombs and mortuary temples are covered in the context of structure and construction.

The oldest Egyptian tombs are Mastabas. This is a sepulchral structure built above ground. Mastabas of the early dynastic period (3200-2680 B.C.), evidently modeled on contemporary houses, were elaborate and had many compartments. Better known are those of the Old Kingdom (2680-2181 B.C.), which elaborated on the pre-dynastic burial-pit and mound form. After burying their dead in sandpits, the early Egyptians placed a Mastaba over the grave to keep the sand from blowing away. The typical Mastaba was rectangular and flat-roofed, with inward sloping walls.

The superstructure was solid except for the offering chamber-a decorated chapel, and the serdab-a smaller chamber containing a portrait statue of the deceased. These were continually built throughout the Old Kingdom for their comparative cheapness and convenience. This structure is considered the prototype of the true pyramid.

The True pyramid exists only in Egypt. Usually of stone, it is square in plan, with triangular sides facing the compass points, sloping at an angle of about 50° and meeting at an apex. The true pyramid evolved about the IV dynasty (2680-2565 B.C.) and was favored through the VI dynasty (2420-2258 B.C.). Entrance was through an opening in the north wall. A small passage, traversing lesser chambers, led to the sepulchral chamber, excavated from the bedrock deep beneath the immense pile. Usually of stone blocks laid in horizontal courses, pyramids were sometimes of mud brick with stone casing. Most notable are the...