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The Pyramids of the Ancient Egyptians

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The Pyramids of the Ancient Egyptians

Pyramids, large structures with four triangular sides that meet in a point at the top, directly over the center of the pyramid’s square base. Ancient peoples in several parts of the world built pyramids, but the Egyptians constructed the biggest and most famous pyramids, with which this essay deals.

The ancient Egyptians built more than 90 royal pyramids, from about 2630 BC until about 1530 BC. During this time, the pyramid form evolved from a series of stepped terraces that resembled the layers of a wedding cake to most of the world, sloped pyramidal shape. The first pyramid, the Step Pyramid at Şaqqārah, was constructed during the reign of King Djoser (2630 BC-2611 BC).

Egyptian pyramids are the mysteries of the Eygpt for everyone has an idea what they were used for but no one can be really sure if it is true. The Pyramids mostly served as tombs for kings and queens, but they were also places of ongoing religious activity. After a ruler died, his or her body was carefully treated and wrapped to preserve it as a mummy. According to ancient Egyptian belief, the pyramid, where the mummy was placed, provided a place for the monarch to pass into the afterlife. In temples nearby, priests performed rituals to nourish the dead monarch’s spirit, which was believed to stay with the body after death. In the Old Kingdom (a period of Egyptian history from about 2575 BC to about 2134 BC), Egyptian artists carved hieroglyphs on the walls of the burial chamber, designed to safeguard the dead monarch’s passage into the afterlife. These hieroglyphic writings, which include hymns, magical spells, instructions on how to act in front of the gods, and other pieces of useful knowledge, are known as the Pyramid Texts.

During the Old Kingdom, the Egyptians built their largest and most ambitious pyramids, typically of large stone blocks. Over time, the size and quality of the pyramids decreased, probably because they were extremely costly. In the Middle Kingdom (2040 BC-1640 BC), the Egyptians built pyramids mostly of mud brick. All pyramids were aligned to the cardinal directions, meaning that their sides ran almost exactly due north-south and east-west. Most pyramids rose from desert plateaus on the west bank of the Nile River, behind which the sun set. The Egyptians believed that a dead monarch’s spirit left the bod...

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...cientific expedition to Egypt in 1638. Greaves set out to describe the Great Pyramid, and his measurements proved to be highly accurate. Throughout the rest of the 17th and 18th centuries the efforts of European diplomats and travelers, such as Benoît de Maillet of France, Richard Pococke of Britain, and Frederik Norden of Denmark, helped stimulate European interest in the monuments of ancient Egypt. Other great men in history have to has their run with the Pyramids, like Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte of France invaded Egypt. A large team of scholars accompanied his army, with the intention of documenting not only every ancient monument but the plants, animals, geography, and culture of the modern inhabitants. The results of this effort, which ended in 1801 with the French retreat from Egypt, were published in a monumental series of books entitled Description de l’Égypte (1809-1828)

Explorations continued in the 1980s and 1990s, characterized by the use of robots and computers to map and analyze the structure of the pyramids. Many aspects of the Egyptian pyramids remain a mystery, but scholars continue to excavate them, explore them, and learn more about them.
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