The Pyramids

The pyramids are the stone tombs of Egypt's kings - the Pharaohs. These ancient monuments stand on the banks of the river Nile. Some are over 4,500 years old. All of the pyramids were built by hand! The Egyptians had no iron tools or machinery to help them. They probably dragged the massive blocks of stone into place on sledges run on specially built ramps. these gigantic tombs show that the Egyptians were very skilful architects and builders. There are over 90 pyramids in Egypt. The pyramids are all on the West bank of the Nile - the side on which the sun sets. This is for religious reasons. The step pyramid at Saqqaru was the first large stone building the world had ever seen.

Who Built The Pyramids?-The pyramids were built by stonecutters, masons, surveyors, mortar makers, carpenters and general labourers. The general labourers were mainly thousands of farmers who were available for work when their fields were flooded between July and November and farming was made impossible. The labourers were paid in food and clothing and were normally well treated, though the first recorded strike in the history of the world was held on the site of a pyramid. The workers sat in the shade and refused to go back to work until they had been paid their rations.

What Was Special About The Shape?-The pyramid was laid out so that the sides faced perfectly North, South, East and West. Each layer had to be properly lined up to achieve the pyramid shape, 4 triangles meeting at a point. The pyramids at Giza were covered with brilliant white polished limestone to give them a smooth surface. The pyramid was meant to look like the rays of the Sun.. The burial chambers and passages were dug out after the pyramid was built.

What Was Inside A Pyramid?-The most important thing inside the burial chamber was the mummy of the Pharaoh, but, to ensure that the person had a good afterlife, treasures would also be put inside. There would also be paintings and drawings showing what the person had done during his life so that the gods would know how important or good he was; the pets of the person might also be mummified to keep him company and replicas of their servants or even the actual servants themselves would be put inside to continue to serve him in the afterlife.

Tomb Robbers, What Power Did They Have? -They had the power to change the history of Egypt. The Pharaohs built the pyramids to keep their mummies and treasures safe but the tomb robbers broke into them and stole the treasures. So the Pharaohs had to build bigger and stronger pyramids to combat this but the grave robbers never gave in - every pyramid was robbed. In the end the Pharaohs gave in. they realised that a pyramid was a huge stone advert saying "Look at my grave! Look at my wealth!" The only answer was to hide the tombs and the Pharaohs switched to being buried in hidden caves in the rocks.

Click here to go back to the main Ancient Egypt Page.