Hypothesis: The elaborate construction and unique purpose of the pyramids was linked to the Ancient Egyptians desire to preserve and honor the dead.
The Ancient Egyptians strong beliefs towards death inspired them to build elaborate pyramid structures. The purpose of the pyramids being constructed in such detail was in order to try and preserve and honor the dead of the highest social status. The construction of the pyramids was an important way of life to the Ancient Egyptians for it helped them to express their strong beliefs.
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The purpose of the pyramids to the Ancient Egyptians was mainly to commemorate the dead Pharaohs. It was originally thought that the pyramids were laid out in a relatively unstructured manner (Bauval, R. 1995). Although, more recent work suggests that the relative sizes and detailed positioning of the pyramids is almost a mirror image of the ‘belt’ in the constellation of Orion. The supposed ‘air shafts’ in the pyramids actually pointed directly towards Orion. This is supposedly aimed at projecting the soul of the deceased Pharaoh out towards the constellation. The pyramids housed the mummified body of the deceased Pharaoh and helped guide him into the promised after life.
The pyramids were constructed from 2700 to 2500 BC. Although many theories have arose about the construction of the pyramids, it is thought that it took approximately 20 000 men about 20 to 40 years to build the Great Pyramid. One theory suggests that crews dragged or pushed limestone blocks, weighing anything from 2 to 70 tonnes, along mud-slicked ramps. The shape of the pyramids is a very symbolic part of their construction. The largest pyramid, of Khufu , used an estimated 2.3 million blocks to build and it stands at a height of 450 feet and covers 13 acres. At the entrance of all pyramids warnings are printed on the doors stating that “death shall come with swift wings to those who dare touch the tomb of the Pharaoh” Lehner. M (1990). This was known as the curse of the Pharaoh, and it was intended to prevent tomb robbers from entering the tomb.
Ancient Egyptians preserved and honored their dead Pharaohs. In doing so, they expressed very important religious acts which they believed would help the Pharaoh pass into the after life. The Ancient Egyptians would perform a ritual to the dead Pharaoh in the following order, firstly they would soak the body in a salt solution until the moisture was taken from the body, then they would remove the vital organs and place them in jars. The next step would be to liquify the brain and remove it through the nasal cavity. Although most of the vital organs would be removed the Ancient Egyptians would leave the heart in the body as they believed it was the center of knowledge. The main purpose of the pyramids would be to help preserve the mummified body as well as help the soul into the after life. The pyramid’s shape is believed to have a very important religious statement, this being that the sloping sides were intended to help the soul of the Pharaoh climb to the sky and join the gods. The pyramids would be filled with everything the Pharaoh desired to take with him to the after life.
In Ancient Egypt only people with the highest social status, such as Pharaohs, were preserved with such passion. The Ancient Egyptians believed the Pharaoh was their living god therefore, they treated him as such by building huge pyramid structures to help preserve him. In building the pyramid for the Pharaoh they believed that the whole of Egyptian society would benefit, since the gods reign over their dynasties. The life of a Pharaoh was much more relaxed than that of a slave. He had a less strenuous lifestyle with the absence of manual labor. But to the Ancient Egyptians this was just the way of life.
The Ancient Egyptians did indeed preserve and honor the dead. Without the protection of the pyramids the preservation of the mummified bodies may not have been possible. The pyramids were a very important part of Egypt’s history and without them this Ancient civilization may have been forgotten in time.
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