The Pyramids of Egypt are among the largest structures ever built and are one of the most important examples of Ancient Egyptian civilization .Most were built during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods .
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT : 3
PYRAMID SYMBOLISM: 4
NUMBER AND LOCATION OF PYRAMIDS : 5
CONSTRUCTION DATES : 6
BIBLIOGRAPHY : 8
The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt.
There are 138 pyramids discovered in Egypt as of 2008. Most were built as tombs for the country's Pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.
The earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis. The earliest among these is the Pyramid of Djoser (constructed 2630 BCE–2611 BCE) which was built during the third dynasty. This pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by the architect Imhotep, and are generally considered to be the world's oldest monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry.
The estimate of the number of workers to build the pyramids range from a few thousand, twenty thousand, and up to 100,000.
The most famous Egyptian pyramids are those found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo. Several of the Giza pyramids are counted among the largest structures ever built..
The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence. (Slackman 2008 )
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT :
By the time of the early dynastic period of Egyptian history, those with sufficient means were buried in bench-like structures known as mastabas.
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 theStep 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.
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 . (Watkin 2005)
The shape of Egyptian pyramids is thought to represent the primordial mound from which the Egyptians believed the earth was created. The shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, and most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance. Pyramids were often also named in ways that referred to solar luminescence. For example, the formal name of the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur The Southern Shining Pyramid, and that of Senwosret at el-Lahun was Senwosret is Shining.
While it is generally agreed that pyramids were burial monuments, there is continued disagreement on the particular theological principles that might have given rise to them. One theory is that they were designed as a type of "resurrection machine."
The Egyptians believed the dark area of the night sky around which the stars appear to revolve was the physical gateway into the heavens. One of the narrow shafts that extends from the main burial chamber through the entire body of the Great Pyramid points directly towards the center of this part of the sky. This suggests the pyramid may have been designed to serve as a means to magically launch the deceased pharaoh's soul directly into the abode of the gods.
All Egyptian pyramids were built on the west bank of the Nile, which as the site of the setting sun was associated with the realm of the dead in Egyptian mythology. (Society 1996)
NUMBER AND LOCATION OF PYRAMIDS :
In 1842 Karl Richard Lepsius produced the first modern list of pyramids, in which he counted 67. A great many more have since been discovered. As of November 2008, 118 Egyptian pyramids have been identified.
The location of Pyramid 29, which Lepsius called the "Headless Pyramid", was lost for a second time when the structure was buried by desert sands subsequent to Lepsius' survey. It was only found again during an archaeological dig conducted in 2008.
Many pyramids are in a poor state of preservation or buried by desert sands. If visible at all they may appear as little more than mounds of rubble. As a consequence archaeologists are continuing to identify and study previously unknown pyramid structures.
The most recent pyramid to be discovered is that of Queen Sesheshet, mother of 6th Dynasty Pharaoh Teti, located at Saqqara. The discovery was announced by Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, on 11 November 2008.
All of Egypt's pyramids, except the small Third Dynasty pyramid of Zawyet el-Amwat (or Zawyet el-Mayitin), are sited on the west bank of the Nile, and most are grouped together in a number of pyramid fields. The most important of these are listed geographically, from north to south, below. (Lehner 1997)
CONSTRUCTION DATES :
The following table lays out the chronology of the construction of most of the major pyramids mentioned here. Each pyramid is identified through the pharaoh who ordered it built, their approximate reign and its location. (Ritter 2003)
Pyramid / Pharaoh
c. 2630–2612 BC
c. 2612–2589 BC
c. 2589–2566 BC
c. 2566–2558 BC
c. 2558–2532 BC
c. 2532–2504 BC
c. 2494-2487 BC
c. 2487–2477 BC
c. 2477–2467 BC
The Ancient Egyptians did indeed preserve and honor the dead. Without the protection of the pyramids the preservation of the mummified bodies may not have been possible. The pyramids were a very important part of Egypt’s history and without them this Ancient civilization may have .
Lehner, Mark. The Complete Pyramids. 1997.
Ritter, Michael. Dating the Pyramids. , 2003.
Slackman, Michael. In the Shadow of a Long Past, Patiently Awaiting the Future. The New York Times, 2008 .
Society, National Geographic. Who Built the Pyramids? 1996.