Many view the pyramids as mysterious mega-structures built to display the power of a civilization. However, I believe they are simply apart of a glorified cemetery whose owners were hell-bent to build the largest representation of them. I am not attacking the purpose or engineering feat of the pyramids, they are incredible, but only pointing out their relative service. For example, extraordinarily large structures are built today to honor the dead in the form of monuments, head stones, or buildings. In modern commentaries you commonly find an assortment of head stones and monuments all varying in size and extravagance relative to the importance, riches, or ego of the individual who lies beneath.
The Giza Plato is essentially a giant cemetery. On nearly every side of the three larger pyramids exits common graveyards and burial temples, complete with enclosures, and were viewed as a sacred place, not so different from today. The Egyptians even buried with them important items, commonly boats, a common practice in cultures all over the world.
The great pyramids of Giza sit on a granite plateau above the surrounding landscape. There are three extremely large pyramids; they are called Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. Khufu was built around 2560-2540 BC and Khafre was finished between 2558 and 2532 BC. However, Menkaure’s date is unknown. Menkaure was a monarch and was not exactly known when he died. Khufu was the tallest man made structure in the word until the 14th century AD. Although the pyramids look like a giant rock piles today, they were once covered with smooth stones. Many used limestone and granite and gave off a bright white color in the sunlight. Menkaure’s pyramid still has a lot of the casing stone in tact of the pyramid on the bottom. This is because Menkaure died before the pyramid was finished. Due to this incomplete nature, it provides archaeologies an idea of the process that was used to build the pyramids. Much like the memorials today, they were seen as a display of pristine stone work.
Although these pyramids were designed as a sacred resting place of Pharaohs, as a medium into their next life, they are essentially enormous monuments representative of an individual’s wealth, power, ego, or importance surrounded by other burial and sacred areas. Essentially the same as today, but on a much more dramatic scale, which may be proportional to the level of said qualities associated with the Pharaoh.
It begs the question- in thousands of years will people look back on our civilization’s monuments of individuals and associate our viewpoints of them like the Egyptians of the Pharaohs? Will the future civilizations see Mount Rushmore as the ‘Gods’ of America? Do our monuments have secret meanings? A historical example of similar occurrence can shed light on theses questions.
In 1799 Napoleon invaded Egypt to build a passage from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. His primary motivation was conquest. On July 21, 1799, at the Battle of Pyramids, Napoleon attacked the forces of the local rulers to control the Nile Valley. After Napoleon took control, his hundreds of scientists went all over Egypt to document and record the findings. They were responsible for finding things like the Rosetta Stone, which allowed the translation of the hieroglyphics. Many artistic drawings were made of the exterior and interior of the pyramids. This work was extremely important because it was widely distrusted throughout Europe to people who never had a chance to see Egypt.
This created a strong obsession with all things ancient Egyptian. As an effect, many Egyptian architectural features began appearing throughout Europe. The most obvious are the obelisk that appeared in nearly every major capital. The ancient Egyptian conspiracy of secret meaning of their monuments other than for burial purposes is still with us today. I can only wonder what future civilizations will think about our monuments and burial sites.