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The Story of the Egyptian Pyramids

The Giza pyramids in Egypt, including the magnificent pyramid of King Cheops, one of the seven wonders of the world, are the most well-known tourist destination in the world today. Here, I’d want to address some of the numerous questions that tourists to Egypt and those interested in learning more about the pyramids and ancient structures commonly ask, if not addressed by everyone in the world when they think about the pyramids.

What are the pyramids?

The pyramid was the king’s tomb in ancient Egypt, and its shape was created by accident when the builder of one king’s tomb insisted on changing the look of his king’s tomb when he got the opportunity. The step Mastaba of King Djoser, the founder of the 3rd dynasty, is the first pyramid. Before it was developed into a pyramid, this pyramid was a normal Mastaba, which is the primary shape of a royal tomb (the so-called Mastaba is a huge rectangle building consists of one floor, the interior is divided into many chambers for storing the king’s/funeral deceased’s objects surrounding the burial chamber, which is mostly located in the middle, and it was built out of mud breaks).

Ancient Mastaba in Egypt

When King Djoser took the throne, his architect Imhotep began construction on his king’s royal tombs. Imhotep chose Sakkara to be the house of the northern royal tomb, which was designed and built as another Mastaba, but this time Imhotep used limestone instead of mud breaks, and that was the real beginning of the pyramid, a Mastaba of mud breaks at Biet Khalaf south of Egypt next to Abydos, which was believed to be the eternal house for the soul, while Imhotep chose Biet Khalaf to be the house of the northern royal.

Imhotep was a brilliant man who was given several titles by the pharaoh, who regarded him as his second man. He was the medic, poet, high priest, vizier, the royal scribe, and architect, as well as the supervisor of the royal palace. It may appear that I am writing too much on Imhotep and neglecting the primary issue, but the reality is that when we talk about pyramids, Imhotep is the major topic since he is the reason why Egypt has pyramids. He chose limestone over mud breaking for two reasons: first, to improve the appearance and luster of his king’s tomb, and second, to make it more robust and stronger to survive for a long time in the afterlife.

And utilizing the limestone pushed him to build a higher tomb, taller than any other tomb on the globe (2650 B.C), since, before the limestone, when the only material available was mud, they couldn’t pile layers on top of layers because the material wasn’t strong enough.

So the tomb was built as a limestone mastaba, and then he began to test the stone by adding more and more layers, raising it higher and higher, but because it was the first time the stone had been used in the history of mankind, he was very cautious about adding layers and raising it higher, and because he was not 100 percent sure of the result, he made the upper parts smaller than the lower.

The Step Pyramid in Saqqara

He didn’t mean it; he didn’t want to build a pyramid for his monarch; all he wanted to do was build a nice-looking tomb for him, which turned out to be a step pyramid in the end. The mastaba became smaller as he ascended higher, forming a pyramid of six mastabas stacked on top of each other, each measuring ten meters in height.

When the priests saw the stairs of the tomb, they believed the monarch was walking all the way to heaven. This is why some rulers built their tombs in the style of stairs, such as the Maidoum Pyramid, 40 kilometers south of Cairo. That was the true origin of the pyramids, as all monarchs desired their graves to be built in the shape of a pyramid to ensure eternal life.

How was the Great Pyramid erected when there were no machines to assist?

The Great Pyramid stood 146 meters tall, and the most pressing mystery is how the ancient Egyptians managed to move the stones to that height.
An incomplete pyramid was discovered in Egypt with the remnants of a causeway made of mud cracks and stone that spiraled around the pyramid to allow the large pieces of limestone to be raised. The ramp encircling the great pyramid was supposed to have taken ten years to construct, while the pyramid itself took 23 years to complete.

The Great Pyramid of King Khufu

One chunk of stone was dragged and put into place with the aid of two hundred men and six powerful cattle. Huge wooden cylinders were put beneath the stone, and a large amount of water was poured over it to make it easier to transport.
Three million pieces of local limestone were used to construct this pyramid; each block weighs approximately 30 tonnes, but as you climb higher, the stones become smaller; the tiniest piece of stone weighs roughly 2 tonnes.

The whole pyramid is made of limestone, with the exception of the king’s burial chamber, which is made completely of grey granite.
The pyramid was constructed on a 12-acre site, with each side of the base measuring 230 meters in length and a slope angle of 52.51 degrees.
Due to weather conditions and the passage of time, it has lost part of its height.
The pyramid used to be smooth and flat, but that is no longer the case because the outer layer of stones has fallen away.

How many individuals were involved in the building of the Great Pyramid?

The Great Pyramid was built by a hundred thousand men, according to the Greek historian Herodotus. Their settlement was discovered in the desert on the western side of the pyramid.

Is it true that slaves constructed the pyramids?

There is a lot of false information in some history books about slaves building the pyramids in Egypt, but this is not true, and before answering this question, one should define the term “slave.” A slave is a human who is owned by another human and is treated as a product that the owner can sell or buy. The builders of the pyramids were what we may call god’s slaves.

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