Ancient Egypt / Religion / Structures /
Architectural structure for monuments. Pyramids have a square base, with sides that slope and meet at a summit formed a point or a small, flat platform. Pyramids of the Middle East date back to ancient Egypt and Nubia (Nubian pyramids).
In the 6th and 7th century CE, Christian Berber princes built step pyramids, near the modern city of Tiaret.
Pyramids served their purpose as tombs, and the first pyramids were erected around 2700 BCE. Their origin was most probably the mastaba.
The era of building pyramids lasted until the end of the Ptolemaic period (last century BCE). But the strongest period of pyramids was from the 3rd until the end of the 6th dynasties, a period beginning around 2700 BCE and lasting for about 350 years.
It is believed that the problems with grave robbers is the main reason for strongly reduced importance of erecting pyramids. After this, underground tombs came to be preferred.
The earliest type of pyramids were the step pyramids, which had less than 10 steps on all 4 sides. The most known example of this type of pyramid, is the pyramid of Zoser at Saqqara in Egypt.
Later, the pyramids developed into a structure where all sides were even, and where each step never exceeded the height of the stones from which they were built. The most known examples of this type of pyramids, are the three pyramids at Giza in Egypt.
Purpose of the pyramids
Pyramids only served their purpose of being mortuary complexes. Pyramids was normally not erected alone, but as parts of complexes. While the main pyramid was reserved for the pharaoh, smaller pyramids were built for his wives. Mastabas were constructed for important officials, while lower officials were buried in ordinary pits.
Since the pyramid complexes also were turned into centres of cult, roads that lead from a pavilion close to the Nile and up to the complex, were built. Around the pyramid complex, a wall was built to keep intruders out.
Contrary to popular belief, the pyramids were probably not built by slaves, but by normal inhabitants, either as a tax, or even as paid seasonal work. The season for building the pyramids, was while the Nile was flooded and the fields covered with water. During this period, farmers could not do much work on their land.
The exact technique of erecting the pyramids has not yet been established, where the main problem is understanding how the big stones from which the pyramids where built, could be lifted with the instruments available at the time. One of the more accepted theories, is that pebbles and stones were placed under the stones, while ropes were used to lift them up step by step.
The interior of the pyramids was made while the pyramid rose, and air shafts, chambers and tunnels were all built after drafts that were the same for all pyramids.
The interior of the pyramids is complex, with numerous passageways leading nowhere, in order to misguide thieves. After the burial of the Pharaoh, even the entrance was closed to be invisible to unwanted visitors.
Stones were at first transported on the Nile, normally from nearby quarries. The summit of the pyramids' exterior was covered dark stones, while white limestone covered the rest, making the walls of the pyramids smooth.
Locating the site for a new pyramid
Pyramids were always placed on the west bank of the Nile, which is the dryer side of the Nile, and was therefore thought of being the place of death.
It was astronomers who were responsible to decide by which angle of each pyramid should be built. The exactness of their calculations is impressive even when compared to modern knowledge.
The pyramid list
1) Entry is possible with bribe to the guards.
2) Entry is possible by crossing the desert from the main parts of Saqqara.
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