Eleven years ago my family and I went on vacation
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Eleven years ago my family and I went on vacation to Egypt. The Sphinx, the three Pyramids of Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser towered more than two hundred feet above the golden Egyptian sands like mountains. The sight took my breath away, and that of course was one of their purposes. To a three foot tall, six year old the buildings seemed to be as big as the world. I nearly broke my neck when I tried to glance at the top. When the people of Egypt first looked upon these colossal monuments, they probably trembled just as I did. Now that I am older the sight not only amazes, but the craftsmanship that was used to build these wonderful gravestones, fills my mind with sheer perplexity. The pyramids were designed to impress Egyptians with their ruler’s godlike strength and to give the ruler eternal life.
The Sphinx is a figure having the body of a lion and the head of a man. The three pyramids of Giza are the work of 4,000 stonemasons and as many as 100,000 laborers working under conditions of forced servitude and given rations consisting in large part of onions and garlic. The pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser that Imhotep erected at Sakkara was the world’s first large stone structure, a tomb copied in stonework from earlier brickwork piles (Peck). In its most common form, a pyramid is a massive stone or brick structure with a square base and four sloping triangular sides that meet in a point at the top (Pyramids 810). However, the pyramids are anything but simple. Pyramids have been built by different people at various times in history. Hundreds of thousands of men were used to construct these massive monuments and they took many years. The pyramids were tombs for the pharaohs (Gardner 140).
The pharaohs in Egypt wanted their people to know how powerful they were. Therefore, they ordered people to build these massive tombs for them. When Egyptians first looked upon these giant tombs more than forty-six centuries ago, they were probably filled with astonishment. These colossal monuments first started rising from the golden Egyptian sands around 2630 BC. At the time they were the biggest and finest masterpieces ever built; indeed they were the world’s largest buildings (Brommer 14).
The ruins of thirty-five pyramids still stand near the Nile River in Egypt. Each was built to protect the body of an Egyptian king. The Egyptians thought that man’s body had to be preserved and protected so his soul could live forever (Millard 41). The Egyptians mummified their dead. To do this they would dry the body out and then wrap it with cloths. They then hid the mummies in the large pyramids or tombs. They buried the king’s body inside or beneath a pyramid in a secret chamber that was filled with treasures of gold and precious objects (Roberts 14).
The Egyptians had no complicated machines to help make their jobs easier. They had no cranes or pulleys. All their monuments were erected by using ramps of pebbles and sand. Teams of men dragged the rocks up these. Rollers were placed under the blocks to make them move more easily. Blocks were laid one layer at a time (Millard 41). Stones for building were transported by river. They waited for the Nile to overflow and then moved the giant rocks to where they needed them (Fairservis 85).
Nearby limestone quarries provided the blocks that made up the body of the pyramid. Stone carvers cut these blocks to size. Each was next levered onto a sled pulled by animals or gangs of men over wooded rollers. As the pyramid rose higher a ramp of brick was constructed to give access to the upper levels. In order to provide a gentle slope the ramp had to be lengthened as the height increased. Once the blocks were brought to their positions they were again levered into place. When all was finished, the ramp was dismantled and the final facing of white limestone laid into position. This finishing stone was probably brought by barge from quarries farther up the Nile. Some of them had small blocks of stone and rubble inside, while others had only mud bricks. To build the tomb, the Egyptians marked the plan on the
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Giza Plateau, African architecture, Egyptian pyramids, Pyramid, Egyptology, Giza pyramid complex, Ancient Egypt, Step pyramid, Saqqara, Valley of the Kings, Egyptians, Ancient Egyptian architecture
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