Egyptian Pyramids: History and Interesting Facts

Egyptian pyramids were made around the time when Egypt was a wealthy country with a fast rate of acquisition of knowledge. Although some of the oldest Egyptian pyramids dates as far back as 4000 years ago, their magnificence has not diminished with the passage of time.

What Is an Egyptian Pyramid?

Egyptian Pyramids

The Great Sphinx of Giza stands atop the Giza Plateau

They are huge pyramid-shaped structures of ancient times. These pyramids form a very important part of Egyptian history. They look natural but on the contrary, they are man-made. It’s been estimated that, as ten years ago, there were over one hundred and twenty (120) pyramids in Egypt. Most of them were built as tombs for Egyptian kings and queens.

One of the earliest pyramids built was the Pyramid of Djoser. Historians believe that Djoser was planned by Imhotep, Chancellor to the Pharaoh Djoser’s. Most of the popular pyramids we see today can be found in Giza, Egypt. The largest of the pyramids in Giza is known as the Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or the Great Pyramid of Giza. The Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is the biggest of the three pyramids (Khufu, Khafre and Menkaur) that form the Giza pyramid complex.

During the Archaic Dynasty period when upper and Lower Egypt were united, only the elite were laid to rest in Mastabas.  Mastabas were built like long seats. They were ancient Egyptian tombs, rectangular in structure and made of mud-bricks.

The Building of the Pyramids

The Pyramid of Djoser which was built by Imhotep was built to look like mastabas packed on each other creating space that looked like stairs. This stacked-type of the pyramid was the first of its kind at the time. The ancient Egyptians believed that the souls of the dead Kings climbed the stairs up to heaven. It was also insinuated that the gods handpicked the kings to be in between the people and the gods. For this reason, ancient Egyptians made major efforts in preserving the honor of kings whenever they died.

Imhotep, the builder of the Pyramid of Djoser, was revered by many as a living embodiment of a god, based on all the spectacular structures he constructed. Additionally, he healed ailments, preached and got referred to as the saint of physicians and scribes.

In the Giza pyramid complex, the second-largest pyramid was made for Khafre, Khufu’s son.  In this pyramid, a carving of limestone was made as a statue to guide him. The upper side of the carving was human while the lower part was animal, specifically lion.

Thieves and tomb raiders of old times and current times pillage the bodies and other items of people who were buried in these pyramids.

Egyptologists and archaeologists have maintained that the quality and scale of construction of the pyramids naturally coincided with the fall of Egyptian civilization. Today, pyramids are no longer built.

The Shape of the Pyramids

The Pyramids are shaped in such a way that it is believed to represent the shining beams of the sun descending on earth. Looking at the pyramid from a distance, it’s a beautiful sight to behold especially due to the white limestone used in their construction.

Number of Pyramids

As of the year 1842, a list of pyramids was released by Karl Richard Lepsius, an archaeologist and a Prussian Egyptologist which put them at almost seventy.  There have been instances where pyramids have gone missing and have been later found. They were often buried under the desert sand.  Also, the preservation of existing pyramids has been a great challenge for the people of Egypt.

Interesting Facts about the Egyptian Pyramids

Egyptian Pyramids

Facts about Egyptian Pyramids.

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza was known to be the highest building by man until the building of the Lincoln Cathedral in England.
  • The Pyramid of Cheops is the largest and the oldest.
  • The Great Sphinx of Giza, a colossal statue of a half-man and a half lion, protects the Giza Pyramid and it insinuated that Khafre’s face was the image used for the statue.
  • Not all of the pyramids were constructed with a pointed triangular top. Some of them were flat at the top.  Surprisingly, the Pyramid of Djoser is flat at the top.
  • There are myths that these magnificent structures were built by slaves at the time. A rumor that has been proven to be false. History has it that, the pyramids were built by construction workers from families that were not well to do. A historian of Greek origin by name Herodotus was responsible for the rumor about slaves building the pyramids. Considering the fact that these buildings were used as a resting place for Egyptian Pharaohs, it would have been almost impossible to delegate such duties to slaves.

Until today, there has not been a sure answer for how the building of the pyramids was actually done.  Considering the fact that more than two million huge pieces of limestone were used in building the pyramids at a time. No one really knows who carried the stones or how they were lifted during the construction.  Not having records of how the construction was done makes it even more difficult trying to find answers to how these magnificent structures were put up.  It is believed that an ancient painting on a wall of a man standing in front of a group of men who were pulling a huge carving while the man in front mixed sand with water could be a clue.  Initially, this painting was not really given much attention.

Sources: list25.com and history.com