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The Egyptians believed that their kings were gods. Even after they had died, the
rulers continued to affect daily life through their supernatural powers. In his new life in
the underworld, the king would need everything he needed while alive, and he needed his
home to last for eternity.
While alive, Egyptian kings lived in palace of mud-brick, wore linen roves, and
slept in wooden beds. In their gentle climate, more substantial comforts were not
needed. But eternity last a whole lot longer than life. So the tombs of the kings needed
to be durable and well-supplied. The tombs also needed to protect the body and its
supplies and gifts from thieves. They also were the focus of the Egyptian religion and so
needed to be extremely visible. The massive stone pyramid met all these criteria.
However, there was still the problem of supplying the king with essentials. Since
entombing a never-ending supply of food and servants was not very practical, the
Egyptians decided on the principal of "substitution by means of a representation." Since
the dead king now existed in spirit, rather than physical form, he was not bound by
physical limitations. A picture or word could feed him as well as a real slab of meat.
Servants did not have to be killed and laid around his tomb; statues could take their
Because the king was a god to his people, they needed to be able to come and
worship him. But if his body were accessible to the whole nation, the king and his
treasures would be too accessible to robbers. So, instead they built a statue resembling
the king which they placed in a temple open to the public. His ka, or spirit could leave
the tomb and come live in his statue for awhile. This way, the people\'s prayers and gifts
could still be delivered while keeping him safe.
Herodotus, a Greek who wrote about the building of the pyramids long after they
had been built, claimed that the Great Pyramid took tens of thousands of men and in just
twenty years to make. But even if those figures are not accurate, the construction of the
pyramids was an amazing feat. The Egyptians had not learned to use the wheel or the
pulley and so lifted all of the stones using ramps. The cut stone was edged along the
ramps on rollers, lubricated by only milk or water. We do not know how many people
died as laborers for the pyramids, but we do know that most Egyptians would have been
eager to participate in the building: because the king would become a god who could
bless or curse their lives; they wanted to make sure he was comfortable and cared for and
able to come back and help them.
On the rocky plateau of Giza, ten miles southwest of the center of Cairo, stands
the Great Pyramid, the most majestic and most mysterious monument ever erected by the
hand of man (Adams). The Great Pyramid is the largest stone building on earth, and the
last surviving wonder of the ancient world. Its base covers just over thirteen acres, and it
is composed of some 2.3 million blocks of granite and limestone, weighing from 2.5 to
seventy tons apiece, which rise in two hundred and three layers to the height of a forty-
story building. The Pyramid was originally covered with twenty one acres of polished,
marble-like casing stones, which, shining resplendently beneath the sun\'s rays, earned for
it the ancient title "The Light."
The Pyramid is an unrivaled feat of engineering and craftsmanship. It is aligned
with the four cardinal points more accurately than any contemporary structure, including
the Meridian Building at Greenwich Observatory in London. The three hundred and fifty
foot long descending passage is so straight that it deviates from a central axis by less
than a quarter of an inch from side to side and only one tenth of an inch up and down.
The casing stones, some of which weighed over sixteen tons, are so perfectly shaped and
squared that the mortar-filled joint between them is just one fiftieth of an inch.
Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie described such phenomenal precision as the "finest
opticians work on a scale of acres"; work of this caliber is beyond the capabilities of
modern technology. The casing stones show no tool marks and the corners are not even
slightly chipped. The granite coffer in the King\'s Chamber is cut out of a solid block of
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Giza Plateau, Khafra, Giza pyramid complex, Egyptian pyramids, Great Pyramid of Giza, Pyramid, Khufu, Great Sphinx of Giza, Menkaure, Egyptian pyramid construction techniques, Ancient Egyptian architecture
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