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> Egyptian Tomb Architecture Issue: 2009-3 Section: Other



II. The construction of Pyramids

The most famous pyramids are the three pyramids of Giza: a) The Big Pyramid of Cheops (Soufis) (height of pyramid: 146 metres) - one of the seven marvels of the ancient world, b) The Pyramid of Pharaoh Sefrin (Safis) and c) The Pyramid of Pharaoh Mykerin (Mancheres).

The bases of these three pyramids cover a total extent bigger than 93.000 square metres. Also, the pyramids are distinguished for their precise geometric design.

The Egyptian architects, topographers and builders used two special tools, the merkhet and the bay, which helped the alignment of the three pyramids, but also the orientation of the sides and the corners according to the alignment of stars.

There exist some theories on the way pyramids were constructed. One of these theories was stated by Herodotus and it reports to us that the ancient Egyptians used machines (cranes) in order to move the blocks of stone.

However, the historians are not based on the theories of Herodotus, as the ancient philosopher and historian visited Egypt at least 2000 years after the construction of the first pyramids.

The pyramid did not constitute an individual building.

It was the centre of a monumental architectural complex, which was formed of two temples that were connected between them with a secret road.

Temple was always built in the Eastern side of the pyramid, since it was the main temple where the funerary procession took place.

The lower temple or temple of the valley constituted the reception of the procession, it could be connected with the Nile via a channel and it had a pier for boats that were stored in small there also existed stone effigies next to the yard places in the interior of the pyramid, while or in the secret road.

The graves of queens, which were very often pyramids but with smaller dimensions, either were found near to the kings’ complex or they constituted a separate room in the pyramid of the Pharaoh.

By available sources but also by pyramids that have been rescued, like those of Giza and Sakkara, it is proved that at least four different types of ramp were used in order for the enormous blocks of stone to be transported in the interior of the pyramid and be placed in their final position.

The most obvious method is the so called linear ramp (pyramid of Sekhmet - 3rd dynasty), that was seldom used, however, because of its big width.

The stair-like ramp was a flight of abrupt and narrow stairs that went up on one of the sides of the pyramid (Sinqi, Giza).

The spiral ramp was not a frequent choice for the builders because there did not exist a way of supporting it and also it did not allow the controls and the corrective calculations.

The inversed ramp was a zigzag floor that was supported on one of the sides of the pyramid facilitating the construction of a pyramid with stairs.

Finally, there are also traces of internal ramps that, according to the French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, continue to exist.


III. The importance of the form of Pyramids

In general the pyramids symbolize the Holy Mountain and the continuous struggle of humans to reach the sky.

They are the picture of the world and contain the four directions of the space.

As a building, the pyramid is constructed in connection with two well determined axes: the one, following the course of the sun, leads to the Pyramid, the other, going up the current of Nile, brings us to the Beginning. As graves of the kings of Egypt, the Pharaohs, they aimed to look after their body at their posthumous life.

The stair-like pyramid of Pharaoh Zoner was the first stone grave and symbolized the staircase by which the dead Pharaoh would reach the sky.

It was said that the pyramids of Giza had been erected according to the stars of the Big Bear.

In this way, the pyramids were connected with the stars and the elevation of Pharaoh’s soul into the sky to stay with the other gods.

However, later the sun acquired bigger importance than the stars and therefore the pyramids that we know today were built so that their sides symbolized the beams of the sun.

However, apart from their architectural uniqueness and greatness, the pyramids encompass a total of mysterious numbers and proportions that code the mysteries of the World causing not only the curiosity of archaeologists but also of mathematical brains.

The pyramids, these huge monuments, continue to exert enormous attraction even to contemporary people.

Those ones, who had the opportunity to visit these bulky and imposing buildings that the great culture of Ancient Egyptians left behind, remain ineffaceably impressed for all their lives.

A lot of important questions regarding pyramids still exist and remain unanswered.

Nevertheless, historians hope that with the byway of time and especially with the development of technology, the queries will be answered and finally the secrets of Ancient Egyptians will become known.




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