In Ancient Egypt, the pyramids were built not just as a burial chamber or grave but its purpose was to facilitate afterlife for the King / Pharaoh so that he could be eternal. To understand why something was done it is important to understand the philosophy behind it. Given afterlife was more important than the life here on earth, huge pyramids were built by the Kings.
When we planned our trip to Egypt we could not wait to lay our eyes on the greatest and perhaps the oldest man-made structures. On our very first day in Cairo we planned a visit one of the wonders of the ancient world, the Giza Pyramids.
The Giza Plateau* is pyramid complex of three pyramids, the burial place of fourth dynasty Kings – Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure.
Pyramid of Khufu known as the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids and was built around 2500 BC. It originally stood at 480 ft but with erosion it’s present height is 455 ft. It consists of an estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks. The pyramid remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.
Pyramid of Khafre is the second tallest of the Giza pyramids and rises to a height of 448 ft but appears taller because the pyramid sits on bedrock 33 ft higher than Khufu’s pyramid. It was built around 2500 BC. The slope of the pyramid rises at a 53° 10' angle, steeper than the Pyramid of Khufu which has an angle of 51°50'40". The Sphinx is an integral part of the Khafre’s Pyramid complex.
Pyramid of Menkaure is the smallest of the three Pyramids of Giza. It was built at a height of 215 ft but with erosion now stands at 204 ft tall. Its angle of incline is approximately 51°20′25″.
Our guide then took us to the ancient city of Memphis and told us about the Bent Pyramid (we did not see it) and I later went on to read about it.
The Bent Pyramid* is an ancient Egyptian pyramid located at Dahshur, (40 kms from Cairo). It was built for Pharaoh Sneferu around 2600 BC and rises 322 ft tall. The lower part of the pyramid rises from the desert at a 54-degree inclination, but the top section is built at the shallower angle of 43 degrees, lending the pyramid its very obvious "bent" appearance.
Bent Pyramid Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bent_Pyramid
Step Pyramids* in Saqqra, located 24 kms away from Cairo was built around (2600 BC) for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser. The pyramid stands tall at 203 ft and was built in six stages with six steps. This is an unique example of early pyramid development in Egypt.
We were awe-struck by sheer size and magnificence, but not just of the Giza plateau. My brain was trying its best to process all the history & facts . Later that evening when we retreated back to our hotel’s café, one thought was unmistakably evident. It was as though time has been crystalized into pyramids, which silently standing was not just giving out history lessons but telling a story of humankind as a race.
Its through transitions that we, humans, progress – one can see the pattern (base of the bent pyramids are wider however the slope inclines steeply) and the progress thereof (great pyramid with steep incline from the base). Even the great pyramid of Giza was not built from just one generation’s knowledge - its culmination of knowledge (past trials – step then bent then steeper incline) resulting in the way the structure is - A colossal wonder of the ancient world. That each generation learns from predecessor’s work, not starting from scratch. And perhaps, that's what sets us apart from other species.
Later I read about this from various sources (books & online), archaeologists now believe that the Bent Pyramid represents a transitional form between step-pyramids and true pyramids. Pyramids are history’s evidence to show that humanity progresses and it is to be witnessed (seen) to be believed!
*Source- height, angle, built period : wikipedia