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Pyramids of Egypt and Mummies

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive, Reading Pod

Mysteries and Facts on Pyramids in Egypt

The origin of the word Pyramid

The ancient Egyptian pyramids are regarded as one of the most enigmatic and awe-inspiring structures built by humans. Though many of the pyramids got lost in the lanes of time, some of them still survive today for us to explore and admire.

Even the name ‘pyramid’ is a mystery.  Historians believe the word is derived from the Greek word ‘Pyramos’ which means a triangle shaped bread.

It is believed that the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid, was built around 2700 BCE, nearly 5000 years ago!

There are around 138 Egyptian pyramids left in the world today. The largest of these pyramids is the Pyramid of Khufu, also called the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was the tallest man-made structure for over 3000 years and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Facts about Pharaohs and Mummification

The pyramids were built as burial places and monuments to the Pharaohs.

The Egyptians believed that if the Pharaoh’s body could be mummified after death the pharaoh would live forever. Egyptians also believed that the Pharaoh needed their belongings to succeed in the afterlife. It was for this reason that all the belongings of the departed Pharaohs, including their jewellery, wardrobe and cosmetics, things of daily utility, furniture and even food was buried next to their mummies.

The walls of the pyramids were decorated with exquisite carvings and paintings. Near the Pharaoh’s chamber, some other chambers were also constructed where family members and servants were buried.

Mummies of the Pharaohs

Pyramids were especially designed to protect the Pharaoh’s body and the precious items that belonged to him. They had storage rooms, courtyards, secret passageways, and a number of fancy traps designed to catch robbers who tried to break into the pyramid to rob it.

Sometimes, fake burial chambers and passages were ingeniously made in the pyramids to fool the robbers.

What are Step Pyramids?

Some of the earlier pyramids, called step pyramids, have large ledges every so often that look like giant steps. According to the archeologists, these steps were built as staircase to help the pharaoh climb up to the sun god. The pyramids that were built later had sloping and flat sides.

Location

Most of the pyramids were built next to the Nile River because it was easier to get the blocks from the river to the pyramid. Large pieces of rocks and stones were brought near the construction site by boat.

Then the slaves and workers slowly moved them up the pyramid on wooden ramps. The construction of pyramids thus consumed a lot of time as they were built block by block.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The pyramid of Giza is said to have been carved out of a single piece of huge rock.

Scientists estimate it took at least twenty thousand workers over twenty years to build the Great Pyramid of Giza. Because it took so long to build them, Pharaohs generally started the construction of their pyramids as soon as they assumed power.

Pyramid Cities

The ancient Egyptians did not simply walk away after burying a Pharaoh.

As the construction of a pyramid took such a long time, a whole city began to flourish around it during the period of construction. These cities were known as ‘pyramid cities’.

The Pharaoh provided homes to all those who were involved in the construction of the pyramid.

Once a pyramid was finished, the pyramid city continued to exist. Some of the people who stayed were given the job of the ‘security guards’ of the pyramids. Others turned into merchants who bought and sold needed goods.

Astronomy and the Great Pyramid

Many scholars believe that the great pyramid held some numerical values linked to astronomy.

Ancient Egyptians considered number 7 as sacred, and researchers associated the number 7 with the shape of the pyramid. The base of a pyramid is a square (4 sides) and the face of a pyramid is a triangle (3 sides), representing the sacred number 7.

It is interesting to note that the ancient Egyptians used their advanced astronomical knowledge to build their pyramids and temples.

The inscribed texts on the walls of pyramids tell us about the Egyptians’ sound knowledge of astronomy.

Astronomy as a science was essential for the Egyptian priests, who decided where and how to build the pyramids.

Why did Egyptians stopped building Pyramids?

The Egyptians stopped building pyramids because they realized that it was simply too easy to find a pyramid.

The robbers knew exactly where the Pharaohs were buried, and raided them to plunder the riches and wealth buried inside.

The punishment awarded for grave robbing was death, but neither the stringent penalty not the dangerous traps laid inside the pyramids deterred the robbers from trying their luck.

Despite the Egyptians’ efforts, nearly all of the pyramids were robbed of their treasures by 1000 B.C.

Damaged Pyramids

Today, most of the pyramids are in a deplorable state and have been badly damaged because of the forces of nature. The concerned authorities in modern Egypt are trying their level best to restore these magnificent monuments and preserve them for the generations to come.

For more interesting Geography articles and videos, visit: http://mocomi.com/learn/geography/

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