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A pyramid is a structure or monument, usually with a quadrilateral base, which rises to a triangular point.

In the
popular imagination, pyramids are the three lonely structures on the Giza plateau at the edge of the Sahara
Desert but there are over seventy pyramids in Egypt stretching down the Nile River Valley and, in their time,
they were the centers of great temple complexes. Although largely associated exclusively with Egypt, the
pyramid shape was first used in ancient Mesopotamia in the mud-brick structures known as ziggurats, and
continued to be used by the Greeks and Romans. Pyramids are also found south of Egypt in the Nubian
kingdom of Meroe, in the cities of the Maya throughout Central and South America, and, in a variation on the
form, in China.

Known as 'mr' or 'mir' by the Egyptians, the pyramid was a royal tomb and considered the place of ascent for
the spirit of the deceased pharaoh. From the top point of the pyramid, it was thought, the soul would travel to
the after-life of the Field of Reeds and, if it so chose, could easily return to earth (the high pinnacle of the
pyramid serving as a beacon the soul would recognize). Early on, the simple Mastaba served as a tomb for the
common people and royalty alike but in the Early Dynastic Period (2920-2575 BCE) the pyramid began to be
used atop the underground chambers of the Mastaba. In the reign of Djoser, of the 3rd Dynasty, his architect
Imhotep (ca. 2650-2600 BCE) decided to place a series of large stones above the Mastaba chambers in a
graduated design and, in so doing, built the first pyramid in Egypt (the famous Step Pyramid at Saqqara) which
rose 204 feet high and was comprised of six separate 'steps. The base of this pyramid was 358 by 411 feet and
the 'steps, or layers, were faced with limestone.

The first pyramid, as we would recognize the structure today, appeared in the 4th Dynasty in the reign of Snofru
who completed two pyramids at Dashur as well as finishing the work begun on his fathers pyramid at Meidum.
These pyramids also made use of the gradation of stone blocks and limestone but the blocks were cut smaller as
the structure rose, providing a smooth outer surface instead of the 'steps' which was then covered in limestone.
The most outstanding example of pyramid building in Egypt was the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, the last
remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, with a base covering thirteen acres and composed of
2,300,000 stone blocks. Known as the Horizon of Khufu in ancient times, the pyramid was positioned for
precise astrological alignment.

The pyramids of Mesoamerica follow this precise design even though there is no evidence of cultural exchange
between Egypt and cities such as Chichen Itza or Tikal or the great city of Tenochtitlan. The great pyramids of
the Mayan civilization, and other indigenous tribes of the region, are thought to represent mountains which
symbolized man's attempt to reach closer to the realm of the gods. The pyramid known as El Castillo, at
Chichen Itza, was specifically designed to welcome the great god Kukulkan back to earth at the spring and
autumn equinoxes. On those dates, the sun casts a shadow which, owing to the construction of the pyramid,
appears to be the serprent god descending down the stairs of the pyramid to the ground.

Evidence of pyramid-building in Greece exists in archaeological excavations at Hellenicon and in the works of
the ancient writer Pausanius who recorded seeing two pyramids in Greece. The Grecian pyramids function
remains mysterious in that the ruins at Hellenicon are not as well preserved as the pyramids of Egypt and there
exist no records by the Greeks mentioning pyramid-building. Pausanius accounts seem to indicate the pyramids
were monuments to fallen heroes and, perhaps, some were; but the fact that the ruins at Hellenicon have a door
in the base which can only be locked from the inside has led some scholars to speculate that perhaps pyramids
were used as watchtowers (rising in pyramid shape but without the pinnacle). As the top of the pyramid at
Hellenicon is long missing, however, and as there are no accounts of it from antiquity, this must remain

In Roman times the pyramid returned to the Egyptian use as a tomb and the Pyramid of Cestius still stands
today in Rome near the Porta San Paulo. Built between 18 and 12 BCE, the pyramid was the tomb of the
magistrate Gaius Cestius Epulo and rises 125 feet from a base of 100 feet. There is some disagreement over
whether the Romans took the pyramid shape from Egypt or from Nubia, as the shape and interior design of
Cestius pyramid could be interpreted as either but not definitively as one or the other. The pyramids of the
Kingdom of Meroe (south of Egypt in modern-day Sudan) are identical to those of Egypt though seem to be
lacking the intricacy of interior chambers.

In every culture which made use of them (and, of course, as mentioned, there were pyramids also in
China, throughout Mesoamerica, in India and, later, throughout Europe) the pyramid was the centerpiece of a
surrounding complex. Today the Great Pyramid at Giza sits between the two smaller pyramids and other
recently excavated Mastabas but, originally, would have risen above terraces and walks and buildings dedicated
to the spirit of the deceased or to the gods of that particular place. The positioning of the Sphinx at Giza, as well
as recent archaeological finds there and elsewhere in Egypt, support the theory of Pyramid Complexes as
centers of worship and even commerce, rather than lone tombs erected on empty plains.

Historical development

The Mastaba of Faraoun, at Saqqara

By the time of the early dynastic period of Egyptian history, those with sufficient means were buried in bench-
like structures known as mastabas.[10][11]

The second historically documented Egyptian pyramid is attributed to the architect Imhotep, who planned what
Egyptologists believe to be a tomb for the pharaoh Djoser. Imhotep is credited with being the first to conceive
the notion of stacking mastabas on top of each other creating an edifice composed of a number of "steps" that
decreased in size towards its apex. The result was the Step Pyramid of Djoser which was designed to serve as
a gigantic stairway by which the soul of the deceased pharaoh could ascend to the heavens. Such was the
importance of Imhotep's achievement that he was deified by later Egyptians.[12]

The most prolific pyramid-building phase coincided with the greatest degree of absolutist pharaonic rule. It was
during this time that the most famous pyramids, those near Giza, were built. Over time, as authority became less
centralized, the ability and willingness to harness the resources required for construction on a massive scale
decreased, and later pyramids were smaller, less well-built and often hastily constructed.

Long after the end of Egypt's own pyramid-building period, a burst of pyramid-building occurred in what is
present-day Sudan, after much of Egypt came under the rule of the Kings of Napata. While Napatan rule was
brief and ceased in 661 BCE, the Egyptian influence made an indelible impression, and during the later
Sudanese Kingdom of Meroe (approximately in the period between 300 BCE300 CE) this flowered into a full-
blown pyramid-building revival, which saw more than two hundred indigenous, but Egyptian-inspired royal
pyramid-tombs constructed in the vicinity of the kingdom's capital cities.

Al-Aziz Uthman (11711198) tried to destroy the pyramids at Giza. He gave up after damaging the Pyramid of
Menkaure, as the task proved too huge.[13]
Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world, the pyramids
especially the Great Pyramids of Gizaare some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history. Their massive
scale reflects the unique role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society. Though pyramids were built
from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the close of the Ptolemaic period in the fourth century A.D., the peak of
pyramid building began with the late third dynasty and continued until roughly the sixth (c. 2325 B.C.). More than 4,000
years later, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty, providing a glimpse into the countrys rich and
glorious past. The Pharaoh in Egyptian Society

During the third and fourth dynasties of the Old Kingdom, Egypt enjoyed tremendous economic prosperity and
stability. Kings held a unique position in Egyptian society. Somewhere in between human and divine, they were
believed to have been chosen by the gods to serve as mediators between them and the people on earth. Because
of this, it was in everyones interest to keep the kings majesty intact even after his death, when he was believed
to become Osiris, god of the dead. The new pharaoh, in turn, became Horus, the falcon-god who served as
protector of the sun-god, Ra.

Did You Know?

The pyramid's smooth, angled sides symbolized the rays of the sun and were designed to help the king's soul
ascend to heaven and join the gods, particularly the sun god Ra.

Ancient Egyptians believed that when the king died, part of his spirit (known as ka) remained with his body.
To properly care for his spirit, the corpse was mummified, and everything the king would need in the afterlife
was buried with him, including gold vessels, food, furniture and other offerings. The pyramids became the focus
of a cult of the dead king that was supposed to continue well after his death. Their riches would provide not
only for him, but also for the relatives, officials and priests who were buried near him.

The Early Pyramids

From the beginning of the Dynastic Era (2950 B.C.), royal tombs were carved into rock and covered with flat-
roofed rectangular structures known as mastabas, which were precursors to the pyramids. The oldest known
pyramid in Egypt was built around 2630 B.C. at Saqqara, for the third dynastys King Djoser. Known as the
Step Pyramid, it began as a traditional mastaba but grew into something much more ambitious. As the story
goes, the pyramids architect was Imhotep, a priest and healer who some 1,400 years later would be deified as
the patron saint of scribes and physicians. Over the course of Djosers nearly 20-year reign, pyramid builders
assembled six stepped layers of stone (as opposed to mud-brick, like most earlier tombs) that eventually reached
a height of 204 feet (62 meters); it was the tallest building of its time. The Step Pyramid was surrounded by a
complex of courtyards, temples and shrines, where Djoser would enjoy his afterlife.

After Djoser, the stepped pyramid became the norm for royal burials, although none of those planned by his
dynastic successors were completed (probably due to their relatively short reigns). The earliest tomb
constructed as a true (smooth-sided, not stepped) pyramid was the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, one of three
burial structures built for the first king of the fourth dynasty, Sneferu (2613-2589 B.C.) It was named for the
color of the limestone blocks used to construct the pyramids core.

The Great Pyramids of Giza

No pyramids are more celebrated than the Great Pyramids of Giza, located on a plateau on the west bank of the
Nile River, on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo. The oldest and largest of the three pyramids at Giza, known as
the Great Pyramid, is the only surviving structure out of the famed seven wonders of the ancient world. It was
built for Khufu (Cheops, in Greek), Sneferus successor and the second of the eight kings of the fourth dynasty.
Though Khufu reigned for 23 years (2589-2566 B.C.), relatively little is known of his reign beyond the
grandeur of his pyramid. The sides of the pyramids base average 755.75 feet (230 meters), and its original
height was 481.4 feet (147 meters), making it the largest pyramid in the world. Three small pyramids built for
Khufus queens are lined up next to the Great Pyramid, and a tomb was found nearby containing the empty
sarcophagus of his mother, Queen Hetepheres. Like other pyramids, Khufus is surrounded by rows of
mastabas, where relatives or officials of the king were buried to accompany and support him in the afterlife.

The middle pyramid at Giza was built for Khufus son Khafre (2558-2532 B.C). A unique feature built inside
Khafres pyramid complex was the Great Sphinx, a guardian statue carved in limestone with the head of a man
and the body of a lion. It was the largest statue in the ancient world, measuring 240 feet long and 66 feet high.
In the 18th dynasty (c. 1500 B.C.) the Great Sphinx would come to be worshiped itself, as the image of a local
form of the god Horus. The southernmost pyramid at Giza was built for Khafres son Menkaure (2532-2503
B.C.). It is the shortest of the three pyramids (218 feet) and is a precursor of the smaller pyramids that would be
constructed during the fifth and sixth dynasties.

Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone (averaging about 2.5 tons each) had to be cut, transported and
assembled to build Khufus Great Pyramid. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that it took 20 years to
build and required the labor of 100,000 men, but later archaeological evidence suggests that the workforce
might actually have been around 20,000. Though some popular versions of history held that the pyramids were
built by slaves or foreigners forced into labor, skeletons excavated from the area show that the workers were
probably native Egyptian agricultural laborers who worked on the pyramids during the time of year when the
Nile River flooded much of the land nearby.

The Pyramids of Egypt have always been regarded as one of the world's wonders, even in ancient times. They
are emblematic of ancient Egyptian civilization.

The pyramids are believed to be tombs of former Egyptian rulers (Pharaohs) or monuments commemorating
them. The pyramids were each built at different times during Egypt's very long history, and while they share
certain similarities, are each different from one another and reflect the different architectural knowledge of
when they are built, as well as the varying resources of the Pharaoh that commissioned them.

The Egyptian pyramids are square-based and, except for those in the Third Dynasty, which are terraced, have
four faces, with smooth edges that connect the base to the summit, on which was located a pyramidion.
According to the theory most commonly accepted among scholars and confirmed by archaeological evidence,
the pyramids were built as a funerary monument above the tomb of the ruler. The development of these
monuments began in the Twenty-seventh century BC, the Third Dynasty, evolving from the Mastaba-style, and
ended with two pyramids built during the XIII dynasty in the eighteenth century BC.


A Mastaba: the Predecessor to the Pyramids

The mastaba, a predecessor to the pyramids, was a type of tomb used during the early stages of Egyptian
civilization. In name id a derived from an Arabic word which means "bench".
The simplest mastaba tombs consist of a "ridge" in the form a truncated pyramid. The structure contained some
ritual chapels, a false door (through which the deceased was allowed to leave the afterlife to go to receive
offerings deposited by the living on the appropriate table) and a shaft (closed with stones and debris, often very
deep - even more than twenty meters - which gave access to the actual tomb).

The external portion of the mastaba, the one on the surface (in contrast to the well), serves to close off access to
the grave beneath and symbolically represents a seal.

Mstabas were used by rulers of dynasties, as well as important members of the Court such as viziers, scribes,
nobles and priests.

It is believed that the pyramids were developed from this type of structure. For example, the famous Step Pyramid of
Djoser may be seen as a series of superimposed mastabas.

The Pyramids

The Pyramid Complex at Giza.

Drawn by Brosen and released under a Creative Commons Licence.

These massive buildings inspire awe and wonder. The pyramids are enormous by any standard, even when
compared to today's skyscrapers. The pyramids are even more awe-inspiring when one considers how ancient
they are. The youngest of the pyramids is almost 4,000 years old, the oldest is at least 4,700 years old. The
Egyptians were building pyramids when most of the rest of the world had not yet developed masonry, or even
settled into cities. To have had the technical know how and the social organization to muster their resources, not
just of labor, but of supply including food for the workers, and stone from the quarries which were many miles
distant, is a truly remarkable achievement.

In ancient Egyptian, pyramids were called wed. The word pyramid appears to have been derived from the
Egyptian pre-em-us which signified only one side of the pyramid. The association with the Greek term
pyramous, which signified a cake, appears to be merely coincidental and most experts believe that there is no
connection between the two words.

The stepped pyramid of the Third Dynasty

A Drawing of the Pyramids

The Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara

The first pyramid was a step pyramid, constructed in a series of smaller terraces one on top of the other, built at
Saqqara for Djoser, the second Pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty. This is probably the first monument built entirely of
stone. The design was so revolutionary, that its designer, Imhotep, has been remembered throughout the ages
and was even deified in Egypt as a god of architects.

This pyramid consists of six tiers, one above the other. It has a rectangular base of 109m by 121m and a height
of 59.93 m (now reduced to 58.63 by erosion). The interior contains a network of tunnels and shafts, the center
of which is the burial chamber of Djoser. Some tunnels were meant to house the coffins of members of the royal
family. Other galleries served as warehouses and contained about 40,000 jars of alabaster, porphyry and other
precious stones.
The stone blocks used are slightly larger than bricks previously used in the construction of raw mastaba. Many
of the structures built with these blocks mimic the form elements consisting of perishable materials such as logs,
mats and bundles of reeds. Analysis of the structure allowed to demonstrate that it is the result of four
successive changes in a project which originally involved simply a great mastaba.

The pyramid is the most important building of a funerary complex that included temples and other buildings
and occupied an area of over 15 hectares enclosed by a wall about 10 meters high. There was only one true
gateway to the complex, but along the wall there were also 14 false doors.

Other Stepped Pyramids

In addition to the pyramid of Djoser, there are two other great funerary complexes with stepped pyramids from
the Third Dynasty, that of Sekhemkhet, also at Saqqara and one found at Zawyet el-Aryan, which was attributed
to Khaba. The pyramid complex of the latter, known as a Layer Pyramid, is a pyramid formed by independent
layers resting one on top of the other. The original height must have been around 41 meters, but the remains
currently measure only 16 meters, due to erosion and the passage of time.

Four other small step pyramids from the end of the dynasty are known to exist.

The Pyramid of Meidum

The last ruler of the Third Dynasty, Huni, built around Meidum the last and largest of the step pyramids.
Analysis of the remains showed that the pyramid consisted of seven or eight steps, with a side of base of about
122 meters and a height of 82 meters.

During the reign of Snefru, the founder of the Fourth Dynasty, it was decided to turn the pyramid of Huni in a
regular pyramid, the first of its kind, bridging the gaps between the steps and adding a coating. The geometric
pyramid that resulted had a base side of 144m and height of 91.7 m.

Over time, the deterioration of the monument caused the terraced structure below to resurface, as the overlay
was eroded. In the fifteenth century we know from Arab authors there were still visible five steps. Today all that
is left of the pyramid is a large mound with a square base, surrounded by a hill of debris.

The pyramids of the Fourth Dynasty

The First Pyramid Ever Built

Pyramids of Snofru
Typically, Egyptian rulers built one pyramid to house their remains and to be their palace in the afterlife. Snofru, for
reasons that are unknown to us, built three pyramids: the one at Meidum (discussed above), and the Bent Pyramid also
known as dual gradient pyramid, and the Red Pyramid, both at Dahshur.

The pyramids of Snofru, and their surrounding funerary complexes, differ significantly from those of the Third
Dynasty. They do not make use of false doors on the wall of the points that imitated logs or other perishable
materials. Furthermore, the structure of the complex becomes open: the surrounding wall no longer surround
numerous buildings, but only the pyramid itself., the funerary temple, built at the eastern side of the pyramid,
and a small satellite pyramid, which appears for the first time next to the Dual Slope Pyramid. The Ceremonial
Way, which starts from the funerary temple, exits the wall area and reaches another temple by the banks of the
In the case of the Double Sloped Pyramid, the ceremonial way is 704 m long, while the fenced area is a square
of about 300 meters on each side. The name of the pyramid comes from its most striking feature: it is not a true
pyramid because the faces, joined at the height of 49 meters, have sharply varying slopes ranging from 54 3 'to
43 21'. The base is 188.6 m on its side and the original height was 105m.

The Red Pyramid of Snofru

According to the most plausible interpretation, the strange shape of the pyramid is the result of a design change
made during construction. Due to collapses in the internal structure (the cracks are still detectable) which
occurred when the pyramid had reached about half of its expected height, it was decided to decrease the slope of
the upper part in order to not increase the load excessively. The failures were due to an incorrect construction of
the roof of the burial chamber that was made flat instead of a pyramid. The change of slope was not achieved by
chance but was made to alter the pyramid shape to that of an obelisk. despite the failure of the original design it
was simply not possible to admit defeat in the construction of a building so important, it had to be completed
even if that meant changing its original design. Perhaps this is a clue to why Snofru built more than one
pyramid; he may simply have been dissatisfied with the result.

Not far from the previous one, also in Dahshur, Snofru he built the Red Pyramid, also called the North Pyramid
North. This is the first pyramid designed and built as regular geometric pyramid. It was originally coated with
Tura limestone, which was removed almost completely in the Middle Ages and used in other buildings.

The base is not a perfect square, but a rectangle 218.5m by 221m, 5, the height is 104.4m and the slope 43 36
': one of the lowest among those of Egyptian pyramids.

The Pyramids of Giza

Egyptian Statue

The Great Pyramid

The successors of Snofru, building on experience gained in the two previous centuries, constructed the
pyramids of Giza plateau, which are the largest and most famous in history.

The Proportions became gigantic. The largest pyramid, was the first erected at Giza and was commissioned by
the Pharoah Cheops. The sides of the base, which is almost exactly a square, measure 230.4 meters, 230.51,
230.6, 230.54. The original height was 146.7 m. The sides are oriented to the cardinal points
(west,east,south,north) with an amazing precision: the error is only about 3 degrees, despite the fact that the
Egyptians lacked any sophisticated surveying equipment..

The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops)

The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) is undoubtedly the most famous pyramid. Forming a square pyramid 137
m in height, it was built there over 4500 years ago, during the Fourth Dynasty, at the center of a vast burial
complex located at Giza.

It is the only one of seven wonders of the ancient world to have survived until today. For millennia it was the
construction of all human records: it was the highest and most voluminous and most massive building in the
world. A true symbol of a whole country, this monument has been the subject of curiosity and investigation for
over 4,500 years. It is a tomb, but also much more than that: the Great Pyramid is a masterpiece of the Egyptian
civilization, and represents the culmination of all the architectural techniques developed since the creation of
monumental stone architecture by Imhotep in his construction of King Djoser's pyramid. The Great Pyramid is
also a mystery. We do not know exactly how it was constructed, or whether there are still hidden chambers and
treasures within it. The Great Pyramid continues to captivate the imagination: for centuries men and women
have traveled to Egypt to stare in awe at its immense dimensions.

Cheop's successor, Djedefra, did not construct his pyramid at Giza. He built his pyramid 8 kilometers to the
north, but it remained incomplete at the time of the ruler's death.

The kings that followed, Khafre and Menkaura, returned to the Giza plateau for the location of their pyramids,
though neither of their pyramids equaled the magnificence of the Great Pyramid.

Menkaura's successor, Shepseskaf, the last ruler of the dynasty, for reasons we do not know, broke the tradition
of pyramid building by being buried in a simple mastaba. Perhaps the kingdom lacked the resources at the time
to undertake a massive construction project.

The pyramid development requires hundred of years. From unknown old burial site which formed like a
mountain. This old burial site, like the others burrial site in all over the world have built to memorize or as
reminder the person who buried inside them. Allmost all burrial site in the world have mound like shape. But
Egypt have unique burial site. They have mount shape, a sharp peak on top of that. Many scientist believed that
its shape close related to ancient Egyptian mitologi which states that their ancestor escaped from the mountain
island of heaven (but there is no legitimate proof for that).

From the old burial site, the egyptian then created a flat-roofed, rectangular structure of small stones or mud-
bricks. We called it a mastaba. The word mastaba cames from from arabian word from bench of mud. Because
it looks like a bench than burial site. Mastaba discovered in Abydos, Saqqara and near ancient egypt capitol city
of Memphis.


After building small and simple mastaba, egyptian want to enlarge the burial site for their kings. Then, came
someone called Imhotep, a chancellor, high priest, physician, engineer and also architect for the first great
pyramid of Egypt. He served under the King Djoser, in the Third Dynasty, arround 2650 2600 BC. His name
means the one who comes in peace, is with peace. Imhotep was the one of the first recorded scientist in the
world. His legacy included book of medicine, architechture (temples and places) and engineering (flooring,
stone wall). But there is no more remarkable than Stepped Pyramid. Six floor of stone mastaba towering as
height as 63 meters. The Stepped Pyramid or Pyramid Djoser is the oldest great stone building in the world.
And that building directly or inderectly have influenced the other great structure in all middle east and over the
Stepped Pyramid

But Large Stepped Pyramid is not enough. The next Pharaohs want to make more incredible resting places.
Under the rule of Pharaoh Sneferu (2613 BC to 2589 BC), Egypt make the next milestone. Pharaoh Sneferu is
the only Pharaoh that build three great Pyramid.

First, Meidum Pyramid, located 100 km southern Cairo. Meidum Pyramid is one of experimental pyramid, its
structure based on stepped pyramid but created in larger volume. Meidum Pyramid is also known as Fake
Pyramid, because unfortunately its structure failed to stand up.

Meidum Pyramid

The second Pyramid is Bent Pyramid, its structure originaly built base on a perfect shape (constructed at an
angle of 43 degrees from its base), but because some of failure on weight calculation, its foundation began to
collapse. Because of that, The lower part of the pyramid rises from the desert at a 54-degree inclination, but the
top section is built at the shallower angle of 43 degrees, lending the pyramid its very obvious bent

Bent Pyramid

The 3rd is Red Pyramid, With the increase of innovation in Sneferus building projects, one expects that his last
pyramid, the Red Pyramid, will show the greatest complexity and change in architecture yet. Upon first glance,
one may be disappointed seeing that the construction of the Red Pyramid seemingly is simpler than its
predecessor. Lepre points out that some of the internal innovations that the previous pyramids boast seem to be
missing in the kings last monument.

Red Pyramid

The Red Pyramid has became a blue print for the next pyramid generation. One of them is being made by
Pharaoh Khufu, its called The Great Pyramid of Giza. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of
the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven
Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.

Giza Pyramid

Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops
in Greek) over an approximately 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. Initially at 146.5 metres (480.6 ft),
the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
The Pyramids. According to common perception they were built, with the begrudging help of great armies of slaves, by
the ancient pharaohs of Egypt as tombs for preserving their royal bodies. Pyramids were meant to be monuments to the
pharaoh's greatness, filled with great treasures for the afterlife. To construct these massive shrines, the pharaoh's
copied the oldest and largest pyramid of all, the Great Pyramid of Giza.
But the Great Pyramid itself contains no pharaoh's body, no treasure chamber, and no treasures. Who, then, designed it
and built it? What was its purpose? Let us begin our tour by considering a few basic facts about the Great Pyramid.

It is built to face true North. The Pyramid is located at the exact center of the Earth's land mass. That is, its East-West
axis corresponds to the longest land parallel across the Earth, passing through Africa, Asia, and America. Similarly, the
longest land meridian on Earth, through Asia, Africa, Europa, and Antarctica, also passes right through the Pyramid.

The pyramids were built to protect the body of the deceased pharaoh. These massive tombs were constructed to
withstand the elements of time and were intended to last forever. Most Ancient Egyptians planned for their
death and the pharaoh was no exception. His death was much more elaborate than the typical Ancient Egyptian
and considered an important event; this process was tied to the rising and setting of the sun.

It was believed that while alive, the pharaoh represented Horus and upon his death he represented Osiris.
During his state as Osiris, he would set the sun, while the new pharaoh, his son, in the image of Horus, would
raise the sun. This process continued for hundreds of years and this is why it was important the pharaoh be
protected eternally to avoid a cosmic disturbance.

The pharaoh also believed that his death was an extension to a journey towards eternal life. In order to become a
being of the afterworld, it was important the pharaohs physical body be safeguarded and recognizable by his
spirit, this in turn, lead to the process of mummification. The process itself consisted of being embalmed then
wrapped in fine linen. Once the process of mummification was complete, the pharaoh was buried with his most
prized possessions such as jewelry, funerary statues, and items that would aid him in his afterlife.