Of all the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one still stands today: the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza in Egypt. Surprisingly, it is by far the oldest of the Seven Wonders. It was already more than 2,000 years old in the time of the ancient Greeks. For more than 4,000 years, the 481-foot-high pyramid was the tallest structure ever built by humans. It is about as tall as a fifty-story building. No other building reached that height until the Eiffel Tower was created in 1887 (Putnam 20). The pyramid’s square base, 756 feet long on each side, is 13 acres, or the size of seven city blocks. The five biggest cathedrals of Europe could be all fitted into the pyramid at the same time (The Pyramids). How did this awe-inspiring structure come to be? Why was it built and how, and who built it? Some writers have called the pyramids mysterious, but recent archaeologists have found many answers to these questions. When one knows how and why the pyramids were built, the Egyptians' achievement seems even more impressive. The pyramids were the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings, or pharaohs. The pharaohs wanted to make sure that after their death, they would rise to the heavens and be worshipped as gods. According to Dr. Zahi Hawass, the director of archaeology at Giza, building a pyramid was a way "to help the king become a god."
The pyramid shape may have originated from prehistoric Egyptian burial mounds, which were made of heaped-up earth. The shape had a religious meaning, for the ancient Egyptians believed that the Earth had been formed as a mound rising up out of a vast sea. "The pyramid was essentially this mound of creation," says the official Egyptian website about the pyramids. The pyramid was a "cocoon" (The Pyr...
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Mann, Elizabeth. The Great Pyramid. New York: Miyaka, 1996. Print.
Morell, Virginia. "The Pyramid Builders." National Geographic Nov. 2001: 78–99. Print.
Putnam, James. Pyramid. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. Print.
"Pyramids." Britannica Student Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service, 2004. Web. 1 Apr. 2004.
The Pyramids. Egypt State Information Service. n.d. Web. 5 Apr. 2004.
Scarre, Chris, ed. The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World: The Great Monuments and How They Were Built. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999. Print.
Stocks, Denys A. "Immutable Laws of Friction: Preparing and Fitting Stone Blocks into the Great Pyramid of Giza." Antiquity. Sept. 2003. Web. 2 Apr. 2004.
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