Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pyramid Building

Most people think about ancient Egypt and the image of the Great Pyramids of Giza come to mind. For homework the reading gave some basic knowledge about these amazing structures and asked some questions concerning their purpose.

First, you should check out a great website about the Great Pyramids of Giza from National Geographic.

Packet page 13:

1. During what time period were the pyramids built?
The Great Pyramids, and the earlier Step Pyramid at Saqqara were all built during the time known as the Old Kingdom. The main construction took place around the time of 2664-2184 B.C.E.

2. What was the purpose of the pyramids?
The pyramids were built for two main reasons. First, the pharaoh wanted a place for him to live in the afterlife. Such a place had to be like a palace, full of rooms, hallways, and chambers that housed all of his earthly possessions. Most of the living space of the pyramid was located underground, carved into the bedrock of the Western Desert. Second, the pyramids were a huge works project to give the farmers something to do during flood season. If there's one thing that we know about guys between 15 and 25 years old, it's that they need something to do at all times!

3. Describe the technology available to the builders of the pyramids.
The ancient Egyptians used ropes, levers, sledges, sleds, hammers, chisels, ramps, and polishing stones. The engineers of the pyramids also had to have great knowledge of mathematics, geometry, material strength (so things wouldn't cave in!), and accurate systems of measurement.



4. What were the dimensions of the largest of the pyramids?
The Great Pyramid of Giza has a square base of about 756 ft. on each side and stands at about 450 ft. tall, as tall as a 45-story building. To explore more about the dimensions of the Great Pyramid, check out this cool website.

5. For whom was this pyramid built?
 The pharaoh who ordered the construction of the Great Pyramid was named Khufu (called "Cheops" by the Greeks). He ruled from about 2589-2566 B.C.E. and was buried in the pyramid.Learn more about him by reading here.

6. What were the consequences of tomb robbing?
During a robbery of an ancient Egyptian tomb, the mummy was often damaged or destroy. The robbers would be looking for golden trinkets and good luck charms placed inside the mummy's wrappings. Instead of unwrapping the body carefully as an archaeologist would, the robbers would just rip it open like a kid on Christmas morning with a present.

Without it's body, or "ba" the spirit of the dead pharaoh, his "ka," would have no place to land. The pharaoh would be unable to enjoy his afterlife and do any of the things he enjoyed during life. He would instead be forced to wander the earth as a ghost forever.

Even if the mummy were not destroyed, if the robbers took all of the king's possessions he would not be able to enjoy them during the afterlife. Naturally, the consequences for the robbers if caught would be death.

7. What is the Valley of the Kings, and what prompted its creation?
The Valley of the Kings is an area in Upper Egypt where intricate tombs are carved into the walls of the valley, hidden from view. Kings of ancient Egypt were buried there beginning in the Middle Kingdom to prevent their tombs from being robbed. It didn't work--almost all of the tombs were robbed there too...except one.

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