The Egyptian Pyramids
The greatest project ever in stone
No matter how much one has heard, read, or seen in an infinite number of movies and documentaries the Pyramids of Egypt, nothing is comparable to the sensation of finding oneself in front of what is, without any doubt, the greatest architectural project in the history of Humanity. These impressive mountains of stone surrounded by a mystery even today, in the much waited twenty first century, have not been deciphered completely, they make us feel small and insignificant. But let us not forget, as the Egyptian tourist guides continuously point out, though the pyramids make the person feel small, they were built by people. The Egyptians get irritated by the insistence of some who think these constructions have a supernatural origin.
Metaphysical considerations apart, the fact is that increasingly more details are being discovered about the construction of the Pyramids. Even though in many cases we are moving in the terrain of theories, we can still explain how the famous pyramids of Cheops, Khafre and Menkewre, located in Gizeh, very close to Cairo, were built. Forget about what one has seen in the movies, since it has nothing to do with reality. To begin with, there were no slaves in the time of the Pharaohs, so that, once our schemes are broken, we should begin from zero.
For the ancient Egyptians, the real life began after death. This belief is the reason why 4600 years after their construction, they and the funerary monuments still remain and in considerably good state while, curiously, not a single house or palace remains, since for these constructions they did not use lasting materials such as natural stone. What was important was what came after life, that is why there was no special interest in perpetuating earthly goods. Egypt had a large variety of stone materials. All though the length of the Nile there were about 40 types of stones catalogued and used for artistic and architectural ends. Before constructing the pyramids, the pharoes were buried in mastabas, funerary monuments of only one floor.
The first pyramid built was the graded one of Zoser, which exists even today, in Sakkarah, the necropolis of Menphis. Built in the year 2650 BC by the architect Imhotep, initially it was supposed to be a mastaba but later floors were added until they reached six. It is the oldest monumental work in stone known to man that exists. Its exterior walls, of white limestone, measures 545 metres from North to South and 227 metres from East to West. The wall has 14 doors, 13 of them false. Its height is 66 metres. In its interior, lies the sepulchral chamber of the Pharaoh Sneferu with cladding of pink granite and sealed with a block of stone of three tons weight.
Also in Sakkarah one can find the "false pyramid" or a curved pyramid. This pyramid was built for the Pharaoh Sneferu, father of Cheops, though he never occupied it. Its sides are straight, not graded, except for a change of angle in the centre of each of them. As a result, it has an irregular ending. The architects reduced the angle of inclination halfway up in the wall for fear that the construction was unstable. This forced the construction of another eternal house for Sneferu, the only Pharaoh with two pyramids.