The Pyramids of Egypt are among the seven wonders of the ancient world. They were built as royal tombs nearly five thousand years ago. The Egyptian civilization flourished in the Nile valley. The rulers of Egypt wre called Pharaohs. The Egyptians were great believers in life after death. Infact they believed that the Pharaoah was bought back to life magically and became the God of Orisis to live forever in heaven. Thus, the bodies of the Pharaohs were embalmed, or carefully preserved with the application of herbs and oils and then wrapped in strips of linen cloth. These "mummies" were then ceremoniously buried.
            Around 2900 B.C. the Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops) ordered the construction of a magnificent pyramid as his own final resting place in Giza. It was to be 147 metres tall and 230 metres along each side of the square base. Two and a quarter million limestone blocks were used, each weighing about two and a half tons. The burial chambers of the king and queen were in granite. The stone was brought up the Nile on long boats, then rolled on logs to the construction site. Temporary ramps were built along the sides of the structure to haul up the stone. Herodotus, the Greek writer states that it took ten years to quarry the stone and ten more to build the Pyramid. 300,000 men, mostly slaves, were employed.
            Not much was known to the outside world about Egyptian culture till Napoleon led his expedition to Egypt and took with him a number of scholars and scientists.
            Successive kings built their own Pyramids and tombs. Near the Pyramid of Cheops are the pyramids of Chephren and Mycerinus. There are over 70 pyramids along the river Nile. Near the great pyramid, one can also see the mysterious Sphinx. This colossal statue has the body of a lion and the face of Cheops. Legend has it that it is the Sun-God come down to guard the pyramids. Inside the pyramids, the walls of the burial chamber were painted with scenes from the king's life.
           Along with the king were buried his possessions, such as treasure chests, jewels, expensive clothes, fine pottery and thrones of gold, which he would require in his new life after death. Sometimes slaves were also buried.
           Unfortunately, many of the treasures from the pyramid were looted by bandits who found the secret entrances into the sealed tombs. In 818 A.D. the arab ruler of Egypt, Mamoun, forced his men to cut a way into the pyramid of Khufu. But when they finally reached the burial chamber, the pyramid had already been stripped clean by robbers centuries ago!
           The egyptian pyramids were considered unique until the discovery of similar monuments built by other civilizations. Infact a massive pyramid has been found in Mexico at Chulula. The peculiar shape of the pyramid is significant. It is believed to impart magical properties to its contents. For example, objects of iron are not supposed to rust if kept in a particular position inside the pyramid.

The Ancient Pyramids


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