The Egyptian pyramids

Las piramides de Egipto Piramide de Keops y Kefren La Esfinge de Tebas
The pyramid is a monument of religious character present in various very distant civilizations, from India to South America. The pyramidal shape was a logical construction development, constitute a very high, durable - thanks to its wide base - structure that allowed a symbolic close to the gods.

The Egyptian pyramids

The v ida after death, was their firm belief for Egyptians. So that this will materialize, it required the physical preservation of the late returning in the same spirit or also known as the Ka, disappeared after the death, being of vital importance for them, join for better prosperity in life that expect you, everything that was essential. This advanced techniques of embalming or preservation of the body were established, and next to it the more compliments and rich funeral messages is inhumaban. So, as a result of conservation, protection and worship of the deceased, were the most solid, and with the passing of the years increasingly more complex funerary fields. The most extraordinary tombs we know today were raised for the Pharaohs, their sophistication and size was determined by the economic and social position of the deceased. Then the Egyptian pyramids are the manifestation of the relationship itself (death) physical maintenance and survival in most past (life).
In the Temple of Heliopolis, is treasured a stone called ben-ben, which is considered the first cluster of land that broke from the waters of chaos when the Sun-God created the world. He is believed that the shape of this stone, which was taken as a form of pyramids. But at the same time, its geometrically perfect form, evidence of a magical and mythological, meaning that refers without place to doubt, the Royal authority. Since it was the form most appropriate represent eternity and indicate the path of ascent of the favorite souls to the God - Sun (Ra), with which they were consigned to join forever.

Genesis of the pyramids

The first pyramids were the truncated were built from bricks baked in the Sun, where the tombs are placed under mastabas (built on the underground Chamber, which consisted of a room for offerings, the Chapel and the burial chamber itself). This occurred during the 3100-2700 BC (the I and XI dynasties). During this period, Egypt showed a significant boom, economic, social, and artistic; where for example in what respects this last sector, experienced improvements in the techniques and materials used for the construction. This occurs in the dynasties III to IV (2700-2185 BC), with the arrival of ancient empire or Menfita. But finally, when taking advantage of the floods of the Nile River (towards 2660 BC), is introduced the use of stone for such buildings, coming from the same quarries of Aswan and Tura and then transported to sites close to the areas of construction of the pyramids.
Around 2900 BC, the architect Imhotep, design and directed the construction with blocks of limestone, the largest and most ancient of all Egyptian pyramids. With a base of 122 by 107 m, rises six truncated pyramids one over another, with increased dimensions and where the top of the upper pyramid rises to almost 62 m in height. The first ruler of the 3rd is here, in this great work, central building of the mastaba of Sakkara, where lie the remains of the Pharaoh Zoser, dynasty. Becoming as of this moment the pyramid in a pharaonic Tomb par excellence.
By contrast, the pyramid of Dashur, built by the Pharaoh Snefru (dynasty IV), has a broken profile that has earned him the name of rhomboid or also known as twisted pyramid. This is due to that for construction in its final stretch, use lower quality materials, perhaps for economic reasons, which produced a structural break in its upper half, consequently changing its shape and reducing its height. Near the pyramid of Pharaoh, emblem of his greatness, and for its form, symbol of the Sun God Ra, were grouped the mastabas, the private necropolis where the Royal family and the Royal officers, was buried to accompany the sovereign on its journey into the beyond. But Snefru, wanted to transform into the Medium, the step pyramid of King Huni (III dynasty) in a perfect pyramid, advance that only got partial mode. For this reason, Snefru was South of Dashur a completely regular 104 m high pyramid. Sometimes next to the pyramid stood a temple destined to the worship of the Pharaoh, and near the River, the Valley Temple, where he was received the body of the monarch to practice her mummification, burial. Both temples were linked by an indoor Avenue, which was taken to the body of the testified.

The pyramids of Gizeh

The necropolis of Giza, is a funeral set extraordinary dating dynasty IV (2600-2480 B.c.). Here we find the largest and oldest of the whole pyramid at the same time, she is that Cheops (2580 BC) forging the tomb of the Pharaoh. for such construction, were brought from distant quarries, two and a half million blocks of stone, with an average weight of 2.5 tons each. With an area of 48,000 m2, it has a square base, and each side measuring 233 m and its height reached in those times 146 m, however today with the passing of the years and due to different factors your height varies in the 138 m. The entrance to the pyramid is located to the North of it, which was leaving a corridor in ramp that emptied into a false Chamber at the base of the building. Without a doubt, within the same other cameras are located, one of them is known as the Queen's and the other is the great Chamber, which is reached through a narrow corridor, which was the real camera.
This room is the exact Center of the pyramid; so its realization does not cause the collapse of blocks, the architects devised smart construction solutions: settled on this area four or more stone slabs arranged horizontally and two more in the form of gable roof, which served to deflect the weight .and strong thrusts that occur at this point. The King's room contains a sarcophagus, so it has been considered as the final resting place of Pharaoh, although the fact of not having found the mummy of the same, together with the special features of the pyramid, have led to numerous speculations; Thus, some authors consider that Cheops did not to be buried in the great pyramid or that there may perhaps be more still hidden cameras. In fact, in the mid 1980s, several scientific teams detected empty structural in the pyramid and found a series of warehouses on the West side of the corridor of the Queen's Chamber, some filled with sand; you could be downloading cameras, similar to those located on the King's Chamber.
The pyramid of Khafre is something smaller, but almost as high as the previous one, due to the greater inclination of its walls. Like his father, was covered with pink granite and topped with gold cover. His son Menkaure is far more modest. Around the three had a religious complex with temples. and small tombs for officials of the Court.
The entrance was guarded by the Sphinx, immense sculpture of limestone over 20 m tall, with the body of a lion and a human head. It stands on a base of 70 m. For a long time, its significance was an enigma; currently it is accepted that it represents King Kefrén. 

The interior of the great pyramid

Unlike the other pyramids of the ancient Egypt, the great Pyramid has passages and inner tubes at considerable height. An entrance, located exactly over the center of the base of the north face, leads to a small passage that descends to a Chamber excavated in the rock in which the pyramid sits. Other than a runner inclined 47.5 m length and 8.5 height ascends, first, to a small camera called Queen, and then to the Grand Gallery, is clear from this passage. At the same time, the Grand Gallery leading to one greater camera, or King, which contains a kind of sarcophagus.
Inside the pyramid remained intact for 3,000 years. And when Abdullah the Mamun and his men discovered an entry in the year 820 dC, they found that the ascending passage was blocked by large slabs of granite. After struggling, they penetrated to the King's Chamber, to find the empty sarcophagus.
So far, the objective of the construction of the great pyramid is ignored. If it was not a tomb designed to accommodate the body of King Cheops, what was? Who blocked the passage, when and why? Given that it seems impossible to answer these questions with a minimum degree of certainty, the inclined to Mystic speculation have offered their own answers.
In a sense, the great pyramid is a monument to the fact that could be an effective bureaucracy more than 4,500 years ago. Accountants, farmers, builders, politicians, etc., can be seen the great pyramid with the same awe that the mystics. At the end, and after all, it is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that has survived to the present day.

Other pyramids

During the dynasties V and VI there was a resurgence of the solar beliefs and profound social and cultural change. It continued building pyramids - smaller size and lower quality-, which introduced new elements away from the austerity of the time of Cheops, as can be seen in the few res1 cough of the complex of Sahure at Abusir, or you lsesi or ones, who built his pyramid in Sakkara.!
In the first intermediate period (2200 - 2010 a. C.)-dynasties VII to XI-, Egypt was plunged into chaos and anarchy. Under the pyramid burials were abandoned and many of as tombs of the wealthy and powerful ancient empire were plundered and destroyed. The reunification of the country and a return to a State centralized during the new Kingdom (2050 - 1792 b.c.)-dynasty XII inaugurated a period of stability in which ancient traditions were resumed and, among them, the construction of pyramids, which, despite possessing large proportions and be equipped with very complex interior devices, almost authentic labyrinths, were characterized by poverty of their materials.
Although the pyramids were not forgotten entirely, with the course of the centuries were relegated to mere vestiges of the glorious past that Egypt resumed only sporadically. The last of these periods of boom happened during the VIIIth Century. C., with the invasion of the Nubians from the Kingdom of Kush, in Sudan. The kushite enthroned the XXV dynasty (760-657 b.c.), creator of a powerful Kingdom that absorbed the history and traditions of the country of the Nile: the "black Pharaohs" adopted their language, became devotees of the Sun-God Ra Haman and recovered the burial pyramids, which erected in its necropolis of Kurru, Nuri, in the North of Sudan.

The American pyramids

The cultures of the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations - extended from southern Mexico to the Northwest of Central America - of the Olmec, Toltec, Aztec, Zapotec and Mayan developed a sort of pyramid architecture that was also at the service of the gods, but that, unlike the Egyptian pyramids, lacked purpose funeraria2 - if he is excepted the Mayan Temple of Palenque, which has a burial chamber with the grave and the grave of a priest.
They were solid constructions, sometimes quite high, sometimes erected on mounds, trunk-pyramidal structure. They stood by superimposing different platforms to way of matching floors, height, number and variable, and whose sole function was to serve as a base to a temple open - no windows - and one or two bedrooms, located in the upper part of the monument, and which is accessed by stepped ramps. Remainders of these pyramids are numerous and are found scattered throughout the territory: in Teotihuacan- pyramid of the Sun and the Moon-, Monte Alban, El Tajin, Maya settlements of , Palenque, Copán, Chichén ltza and Uxmal, and in the same Tenochtitlan.
Remains of pyramids is also in the Andean area, although they are weaker and not as high as in Mesoamerica. During the intermediate period (200 a. d. C-600 c) some pyramids of adobe that later served as a base for religious buildings were built in Peru. On the North coast of the country, the best-known pyramids belong to the moche culture, and are the so-called Sun and moon huacas.


Thanks to the repeated efforts of the Egyptologists, many of the secrets already have been revealed, not only those of the Sphinx but also those of the pyramids; and hieroglyphs are not already decoded, they are simply read (so the most optimistic researchers claim it). Until the famous "curse of the Pharaohs", it seems that they were unleashed on the first discoverers of tombs, they have lost their effectiveness: Egyptologist Pierre Montet been excavated recently in Tais, in the delta of the Nile, the tomb of Pharaoh Psusennes, of the 21st dynasty, finding, in addition to the mummy of the holder, a non-negligible treasure, having survived quietly do this to be able to write the Chronicle of discovery and step finally discredit the legend.
The wide archaeological area of Gizeh has shown ultimately generous when it comes to rewarding the tenacity and the systematic rigor with which more recent excavations have been made. The American archaeologist Reisner is that maybe carried out the most interesting and spectacular discovery: while in February 1925 he was carrying out research with his team, on the eastern side of the great pyramid, gave casually with the entry carefully helmet of a sepulchral well, whose background was all the rich grave-goods from the Queen Hetephere, wife of Snefru, the founder of the fourth dynasty, and mother of Khufu. Snefru, among other things, is insurance. holder of two pyramids in the area of Saqqarah and perhaps three. This may explain the fact that the son, not to be outdone, even content with a single, built it's so grandiose proportions. The pyramid of Keops remains the building of greater volume made completely of stone, whose height is only surpassed by the two needles of the Cologne Cathedral.
The OS! nascent creates sharp contrasts of light and shadow between the columns of the courtyard of the small temple situated between the formidable legs of the Sphinx. The mysterious face, directed toward the burning solar wheel, overlooking it from above, and their traits have the impassive serenity of the gods.
The Sphinx retains its mystery beyond the Golden face, to the imposing mass of the pyramid of Khafre, whose East face up the ramp of the beautiful processional way that part of the "Temple of the Valley ', just to the left of the Sphinx." Your right extends the necropolis, sorted and pressed, of the mastabas, dominated by the massive and severe profile of the great pyramid of Cheops, to whose feet are grouped the three small pyramids of his wives.
Beyond the temple mortuary, next to the pyramid should be lifted, and here started the processional way, another ramp descending towards the Nile, in the East, to the "Temple in the Valley" of the Pharaoh. All this was so twenty-six centuries before Christ; now, in our days, the temples and the processional way no longer exist and the great Pyramid has lost its sharp peak and almost ten metres of height. But even so, its dizzying walls, from which the lining, has started rise still up to more than 137 meters, and the side of its square base measured more than 230 meters.
The floor area exceeds the five hectares, and more than two million and a half cubic meters of stone were needed to build the great monument. These figures are impressive, even more so if we take into account that in those days the Egyptians had to ignore (though not completely true) the use of the pulley and winch.
In this case, the pyramids would be lifted by dint of arms, with the only aid of rollers and the inclined plane. This would explain, in part, the existence of the monumental ramps of stone, from the shore of the Nile, climbed up to place construction; ramps rising many meters above the ground and then, once the construction of the two temples, the "the Valley" in the Nile and the funeral at the front of the pyramid, were transformed into magnificent processional roads. And explain also the fame of tyrants that Herodotus attributed to Khufu and Khafre, treating them cruel and wicked. In fact, between the incline and the pyramid, the work that was done must have been enormous.

The three sovereigns best-known of the IV dynasty, who reigned in Egypt in the middle of the 3rd millennium, represented on three statues have been preserved in the Cairo museum. Left: statue in diorite of Chephren, the fourth ruler of this dynasty; in the Centre: figurine in ivory of Cheops, son of Snefru, second ruler of the dynasty, the Pharaoh who was made to build the largest of the three pyramids of Giza; right: Menkaure, son of Khafre, between the goddess Hathor and divinity of Egypt.

According to the Greek, have worked for twenty years, galvanised by the whip of the executioners, one hundred thousand slaves who consumed 1,600 talents of silver in turnips, onions and garlic. The image, very colourful, is however inaccurate. The braceros who worked there should not be more than one-third of the figure above, and also it was not slaves, but, for the most part, specialized workers and free men, which lent his work in corvées voluntarily during seasons in which his arms were not needed for the work of the field.
The careful examination of the great pyramid also shows that the project was at least three changes "during construction"; those amendments which, obviously, since the third millennium BC were crazy poor architects. To protect it from 'thieves of graves', by then already acting, was abandoned in construction the known burial chamber located under the ground level, and built another, creating an ascending corridor of which part a horizontal branch: is that today is improperly called "Chamber of the Queen".
But the sovereign also dismissed this second solution, and it did prolong the runner upward through a large and magnificent Gallery which leads to the large Chamber called "of the King", of Red Aswan granite. Here was where the abovementioned German traveller saw, for the first time, the immense granite, covered and empty as the immense Tomb sarcophagus and that perhaps the body of the Pharaoh not lain ever.
Temple East of the pyramid, with the spacious courtyard adorned with 48 pillars of granite and the lobby decorated with pilasters, as well as solid ramp, thirty meters from the ground and side sloped gently towards the Nile, and - the "Temple of the Valley", already have been lost, along with the wonderful and delicate bas-reliefs that covered the walls. Beautiful rock limestone of the Pharaohs, broken, has served to build the houses in the village of Nazlet-es-Simma, called, for this reason, the people of the pyramids.
To the left was ramp are aligned, beautifully ordered, three small pyramids: those in the wives of Cheops; before them, there are two symmetrical rows of thick mastabas, intended for the legitimate sons of the Pharaoh. Scattered around, and especially behind the great pyramid, the mastabas of officials of the dynasties IV and V, are that "the great God", Pharaoh, had granted amusingly a place for the burial, permission to build a tomb and material to do so. The stone, during the old empire (and in theory also in successive epochs), exclusive heritage of the sovereign era.

Source: Gran Enciclopedia Universal Espasa Calpe

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