Pyramids


The Egyptians believed that their kings were gods. Even after they had died, the


rulers continued to affect daily life through their supernatural powers. In his new life in


the underworld, the king would need everything he needed while alive, and he needed his


home to last for eternity.


While alive, Egyptian kings lived in palace of mud-brick, wore linen roves, and


slept in wooden beds. In their gentle climate, more substantial comforts were not


needed. But eternity last a whole lot longer than life. So the tombs of the kings needed


to be durable and well-supplied. The tombs also needed to protect the body and its


supplies and gifts from thieves. They also were the focus of the Egyptian religion and so


needed to be extremely visible. The massive stone pyramid met all these criteria.


However, there was still the problem of supplying the king with essentials. Since


entombing a never-ending supply of food and servants was not very practical, the


Egyptians decided on the principal of "substitution by means of a representation." Since


the dead king now existed in spirit, rather than physical form, he was not bound by


physical limitations. A picture or word could feed him as well as a real slab of meat.


Servants did not have to be killed and laid around his tomb; statues could take their


place.


Because the king was a god to his people, they needed to be able to come and


worship him. But if his body were accessible to the whole nation, the king and his


treasures would be too accessible to robbers. So, instead they built a statue resembling


the king which they placed in a temple open to the public. His ka, or spirit could leave


the tomb and come live in his statue for awhile. This way, the people\'s prayers and gifts


could still be delivered while keeping him safe.


2


Herodotus, a Greek who wrote about the building of the pyramids long after they


had been built, claimed that the Great Pyramid took tens of thousands of men and in just


twenty years to make. But even if those figures are not accurate, the construction of the


pyramids was an amazing feat. The Egyptians had not learned to use the wheel or the


pulley and so lifted all of the stones using ramps. The cut stone was edged along the


ramps on rollers, lubricated by only milk or water. We do not know how many people


died as laborers for the pyramids, but we do know that most Egyptians would have been


eager to participate in the building: because the king would become a god who could


bless or curse their lives; they wanted to make sure he was comfortable and cared for and


able to come back and help them.


On the rocky plateau of Giza, ten miles southwest of the center of Cairo, stands


the Great Pyramid, the most majestic and most mysterious monument ever erected by the


hand of man (Adams). The Great Pyramid is the largest stone building on earth, and the


last surviving wonder of the ancient world. Its base covers just over thirteen acres, and it


is composed of some 2.3 million blocks of granite and limestone, weighing from 2.5 to


seventy tons apiece, which rise in two hundred and three layers to the height of a forty-


story building. The Pyramid was originally covered with twenty one acres of polished,


marble-like casing stones, which, shining resplendently beneath the sun\'s rays, earned for


it the ancient title "The Light."


The Pyramid is an unrivaled feat of engineering and craftsmanship. It is aligned


with the four cardinal points more accurately than any contemporary structure, including


the Meridian Building at Greenwich Observatory in London. The three hundred and fifty


foot long descending passage is so straight that it deviates from a central axis by less


than a quarter of an inch from side to side and only one tenth of an inch up and down.


The casing stones, some of which weighed over sixteen tons, are so perfectly shaped and


3


squared that the mortar-filled joint between them is just one fiftieth of an inch.


Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie described such phenomenal precision as the "finest


opticians work on a scale of acres"; work of this caliber is beyond the capabilities of


modern technology. The casing stones show no tool marks and the corners are not even


slightly chipped. The granite coffer in the King\'s Chamber is cut out of a solid block of


hard