The Great Pyramids of Giza

The discussion about the Great Pyramids of Giza in class today really stuck out to me for several reasons. One reason is that the professor mentioned that the construction of the pyramids was considered “public service” or comparable to taxes. I thought that was interesting at first how important people at this time must have thought their leaders were; so important that these monumental structures were made for them just for their final resting place. Working on them must have been so incredibly back breaking and difficult, especially since these structures ended up being the tallest in the world for quite a long period of time. But then the professor mentioned that not all of the pyramids were finished (Menkaure’s in particular) which intrigued me because I thought that the people were trying to show him a sign of respect by building a pyramid for him but then they just stopped. I also thought it was interesting that the looters discovered to have been digging tunnels into the pyramids like Khafre’s, were actually found to be workers of the pyramids. I thought that was interesting because once again I thought these leaders were supposed to be highly respected, which is why they deserved to have these great pyramids. It just seems so paradoxical for them to steal from the tombs if they were supposed to feel this way about their leader. I also thought it was interesting how there were chambers within the pyramids that were called “queens chambers” but they had nothing to do with an actual queen because they were usually buried outside the pyramids. I also thought it was interesting that the reason for the “queen’s chamber” is still unknown to archaeologists. I also thought it was odd at the entrances and would like to know more about why they were always angled down and then up. I’m wondering if it had something to do with the structure of the pyramid itself or if it was meant to confuse looters.

2 thoughts on “The Great Pyramids of Giza

  1. Being the first “great discovery” that we will be discussing in the course. I believe opening up with the Pyramids of Giza, as well as some discussion of the origin and methodology behind the construction of pyramids is definitely a great way to kick things off. Before I had never known how extensive the history of pyramid construction really was. The pyramids of Giza are just a fraction of the number of pyramids that you can find sprawled throughout the deserts in Egypt along the Nile. When we viewed the video before the full lecture on the pyramids it was interesting to see how the shape and construction of the pyramids changed over time. Gradually the pyramids changed in shape to the more pristine shape that is imaged with the pyramids on the Giza plateau. Imagining them in the days of their completion with all of their casing stones intact to show how amazing they really are would have been quite a site to see. Even without the casing stones I still hope to one day make my way over to the Giza plateau to view them as some of the first gigantic man made structures. The pyramids being referred to as “resurrection machines” and some of the beliefs that came with them are very interesting and show the dedication of the Egyptians to their leaders. As you described construction of the pyramids was kind of like a “public surface” that the people owed to their leaders, I still believe the people probably deemed their leaders worthy of such structures. Since they were all looted so rapidly following there completion, it is interesting to think what kind of items might have resided in the chambers following the death of the leaders that were laid to rest in them.

  2. What interested me most from hearing in thursday’s lecture was the looting of pharaohs’ burial chambers by the very people who constructed them. These laborers probably spent most of their lives building some of these huge monuments, dedicating themselves (although not by choice) to the kings will and way, so why show such disrespect to their divine ruler? In the case of Menkaure, the pyramid wasn’t even finished after his death. You’d think they would at least want to finish something they started so long ago and put such back-breaking work into for the leader they basically worshipped, if not just for the fulfillment of completing something on such large scale. I feel like people back then would fear robbing tombs because they are divine, spiritual places meant for connection with the gods, and they might think the gods would somehow “smite” them for the desecration of a sacred place. Then again, the laborers could have felt entitled to some of the buried riches in a way. After spending so much time and effort on a tomb, seeing all of the riches sealed in there, why shouldn’t they deserve some of the spoils? And who better to break in? All of those workers probably knew the corridors and chambers they constructed like the backs of their hands.

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