Eleven years ago my family and I went on vacation to Egypt. The
Sphinx, the three Pyramids of Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser
towered more than two hundred feet above the golden Egyptian sands like
mountains. The sight took my breath away, and that of course was one of
their purposes. To a three foot tall, six year old the buildings seemed to
be as big as the world. I nearly broke my neck when I tried to glance at
the top. When the people of Egypt first looked upon these colossal
monuments, they probably trembled just as I did. Now that I am older the
sight not only amazes, but the craftsmanship that was used to build these
wonderful gravestones, fills my mind with sheer perplexity. The pyramids
were designed to impress Egyptians with their ruler's godlike strength and
to give the ruler eternal life.
The Sphinx is a figure having the body of a lion and the head of a
man. The three pyramids of Giza are the work of 4,000 stonemasons and as
many as 100,000 laborers working under conditions of forced servitude and
given rations consisting in large part of onions and garlic. The pyramid
of Pharaoh Zoser that Imhotep erected at Sakkara was the world's first
large stone structure, a tomb copied in stonework from earlier brickwork
piles (Peck). In its most common form, a pyramid is a massive stone or
brick structure with a square base and four sloping triangular sides that
meet in a point at the top (Pyramids 810). However, the pyramids are
anything but simple. Pyramids have been built by different people at
various times in history. Hundreds of thousands of men were used to
construct these massive monuments and they took many years. The pyramids
were tombs for the pharaohs (Gardner 140).
The pharaohs in Egypt wanted their people to know how powerful they
were. Therefore, they ordered people to build these massive tombs for them.
When Egyptians first looked upon these giant tombs more than forty-six
centuries ago, they were probably filled with astonishment. These colossal
monuments first started rising from the golden Egyptian sands around 2630
BC. At the time they were the biggest and finest masterpieces ever built;
indeed they were the world's largest buildings (Brommer 14).
The ruins of thirty-five pyramids still stand near the Nile River
in Egypt. Each was built to protect the body of an Egyptian king. The
Egyptians thought that man's body had to be preserved and protected so his
soul could live forever (Millard 41). The Egyptians mummified their dead.
To do this they would dry the body out and then wrap it with cloths. They
then hid the mummies in the large pyramids or tombs. They buried the
king's body inside or beneath a pyramid in a secret chamber that was filled
with treasures of gold and precious objects (Roberts 14).
The Egyptians had no complicated machines to help make their jobs
easier. They had no cranes or pulleys. All their monuments were erected by
using ramps of pebbles and sand. Teams of men dragged the rocks up these.
Rollers were placed under the blocks to make them move more easily. Blocks
were laid one layer at a time (Millard 41). Stones for building were
transported by river. They waited for the Nile to overflow and then moved
the giant rocks to where they needed them (Fairservis 85).
Nearby limestone quarries provided the blocks that made up the body
of the pyramid. Stone carvers cut these blocks to size. Each was next
levered onto a sled pulled by animals or gangs of men over wooded rollers.
As the pyramid rose higher a ramp of ...
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Eleven years ago my family and I went on vacation to Egypt. The Sphinx, the three Pyramids of Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Zoser towered more than two hundred feet above the golden Egyptian sands like mountains. The sight took my breath away, and that of course was one of their purposes. To a three foot tall, six year old the buildings se...
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