Pharaohs as Builders

The first tombs that were used for burial other than the person being buried directly into the ground were mastaba that were rectangular shaped buildings. As time went by the architects began to build them in two layers or steps. Of course then the next Pharaoh wanted his tomb higher so eventually the mastabas ended up with seven steps. After that it was a small step to fill in the sides and create an actual pyramidal shape.

Sneferu is interesting as he was the Pharaoh that completed the first true pyramid but had to try three times in order to get it right. Imhoptep is the first known architect to come down to us in history and one of the greatest innovators in building design. One of the pyramids had a poor foundation and started to fall apart before being finished. Huge cedar logs brought from Lebonon were used to stop the internal rooms from collapsing. The next one was built on too steep an angle and about half way up the pressure on the base started cracking the stones. The architect then decided to lower the angle and did complete the pyramid but Sneferu was not satisfied. He wanted a true pyramid or else! He continued working on these three pyramids off and on for over 30 years. The third one finally did the trick.

When Kufu, Sneferu's son, became a Pharoah he decided he would put the knowledge gained in building Sneferu's pyramids to good use and build the biggest and tallest building in the world that would still hold that title for over 4,000 years! Only when the Eiffel Tower was build was it then the second tallest building in the world. Kufu's oldest son was on the throne for only about eight years and built his pyramid away from Giza but it was only partially finished. Then the other two of Kufu's sons, Khafre and Menkaure built the other two great pyramids on the Giza Plateau.

The building of these monuments are all the more surprising as you realize that the workers, supplies, tools, food, and what ever else was needed had to be setup in an organized manner! Just as building the pyramids, the thing I think is most amazing is the social and political systems set up over four thousands years ago to be able to construct such edifices. Everyone says how amazing it is to pull heavy stones around, it actually is more amazing to have the resources of architects, stone masons, painters, accountants, tax collectors, soldiers, scribes, bakers, farmers, tool manufactures, and so on! Latest findings indicate that there might have been only 8 to 10 thousand men working at one time to build the pyramids since 100s of thousands of people milling around would have ended up stepping on each other more than getting any work done. Most of the problems encountered in construction are solved by simple systems, not involved ones or fanciful ones such as magnetism or some other strange aberration of some peoples minds. It was found that only 200 people were needed to raise the largest stones in Stone Henge. Scientists thought it would take 800 or more to lift the stones. They could only get 200 people to try and raise the stone and of course couldn't do it.

What to do?

Someone said why not take two tree trunks, large and long and a smaller cross bar and make a large A shaped lever. A rope was place on the lower bar and attached to the stone. Another rope was placed at the top of the A shaped lever and was pulled by the 200 people. Guess what, 200 instead of 800 or a thousand could do the same job! Of course some people don't like this idea because it means aliens or some other strange manifestation of personalities or powers aren't needed. I think it is more astounding that we can accomplish such things by using our brawn and brains.

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