Blog #4- Pyramids

In this blog I want to look at the main topic of this week’s lectures, pyramids and one pyramid specifically, the pyramid of Djoser. The pyramids of Egypt have been a long time landmark to the area and bring many people and tourists to an area they probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. When I first learned of how many pyramids there are in Egypt, I was very surprised as I’m sure many of you were. The economic, religious and political systems that had to be in place to create these wonders had to be very developed and structured. The sheer number of 118 pyramids is impressive but the fact that the workers were not slaves as originally believed but compensated free workers shows how advanced and established the society was back then (Watrall, 2012).

The first pyramid built in ancient Egypt was constructed after the reign of King Djoser ‘The Holy’ who ruled from 2667 to 2648 BC. He was the second king of the third dynasty which happened to be during the time of the Old Kingdom when many of the kings began building pyramids within a 45 mile span of desert. Burials usually took place in the ground up until his time but his architect, Imhotep, was asked to excavate and make a complex underground building for his king’s burial at Saqqara. He then created a mud-brick structure with sloping sides, a rectangular base and a flat roof to cover the burial site. The structure was named mastaba for its shape by archaeologists as it means bench in Arabic. The first mastaba built over the king’s burial site was made of stone. A second mastaba of lesser size was placed on top of the first mastaba and so on until it created a six-step pyramid. This pyramid happened to be the first stone structure of importance in ancient Egypt as well as the world and is still remarkable to most people to this day (Holmes, 2011). This process of making the first ever pyramid in Egypt was very interesting to me and so I wanted to learn more about it and share it with all of you. The fact that one king and architect were able to start a trend for most pharaohs to follow is impressive and really makes me wonder how they came up with the original architecture of pyramids as it had so much influence on those who followed in their footsteps. Their ability as a unified state to make these extraordinary structures show how advanced they were politically and economically back in the Old Kingdom.

References:

Holmes, Anthony (2011). Ancient Egypt: History in an Hour. Retrieved July 25, 2012, http://books.google.com/books?id=RQ3bFuJsa84C&pg=PT7&lpg=PT7&dq=pyramid+of+djoser&source=bl&ots=wOO6nArKbM&sig=DevalrtPmqXOuAT_BYTWM1792a4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=i54QUK-NL7PH6AGwj4GACw&ved=0CGQQ6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=pyramid%20of%20djoser&f=false

Watrall, Ethan. (2012). The Old Kingdom. Lecture.

1 thought on “Blog #4- Pyramids

  1. I feel like the pyramids are a widely debated topic, not just in this class, but in a lot of archaeological journals and similar things. If you look at the evolution of the pyramid, they get progressively more technologically advanced as the years go on. As you mentioned, Djoser was the first pharaoh to experiment with the idea of constructing a pyramid. The basic idea for his “ Steppe pyramid” was a bunch of Mastaba tombs, one over the other and so on. What was originally supposed to be a four-stepped pyramid turned out to be a six-stepped one, probably because Djoser and his architect Imhotep didn’t really grasp the idea of geometry. Of course, I don’t know this for sure, but if I had been the one making the pyramid, I would have used the good old “trial and error” method to figure it out. Djoser probably wanted a unique place for his body to be laid to rest after he died, but I don’t think he planned on his idea catching on and becoming the most popular venue for pharaohs that had passed on to the afterlife.

    I had no idea that there were almost 120 pyramids total in Egypt. One of my favorite books about Egypt says that there are only about 30, so clearly some wires got crossed over there.

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