May 14, 2012

Ancient Egyptian Pyramids Part 2 and Archaeologists

In predynastic eras the dead were buried in oval or rectangular pits dug in the sand. The bodies were placed in fetal position, wrapped in a reed mat and laid on their sides. Then in the dynastic era, kings and nobles started building a mastaba over their graves. This is a superstructure of sundried mud brick placed over the burial pit.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramids
Every mastaba was almost certainly a close copy of a house or a palace. It is probably for this reason that the tomb was regarded as the place where the dead dwelt. An interesting mastaba was discovered, in the 1950’s, by W. B. Emery and dated to the reign of King Aha in the First Dynasty. Below the mastaba, was a shallow, rectangular pit divided into five compartments. The middle compartment is thought to have contained the body; the adjoining compartments probably housed the most intimate possessions. Above the pit the mastaba was divided into a rectangular twenty-seven celled interior, containing nine rows of three cells each. The outer walls of the superstructure were sloped inwards from the base to die truncated top. Corridors, usually provided to interconnect rooms, were considered unnecessary because it was thought that the spirit of the deceased could pass unhindered through any material barrier.

Until the end of the Second Dynastic Period, mastabas were built of brick, with some interior rooms lined with dressed stone. Then in the Third Dynasty, builders began to use stone for building the mastabas throughout. The first tomb to be constructed of stone is best known as the Step Pyramid. Its construction has been ascribed to King Zoser’s architect, Imhotep, who is also credited with the invention of the art of construction in stone. Imhotep’s name is on the pedestal of a statue found outside the tomb of Zoser when it was excavated, and thus indirectly confirms his connection with the tomb.

The achievements of Imhotep became a legend among Egyptians, who regarded him not only as an architect, but as the father of medicine, an accomplished astronomer and magician. Later generations of Egyptians deified him; the Greeks equated him with their own god of medicine.

The place which Imhotep selected to construct the pyramid was a stretch of high ground overlooking the city of Memphis, which measured about 1800 feet by 1000 feet, with its longest side oriented along the north-south axis. The step pyramid was the main, dominant feature of a big complex of buildings and courtyards, very much like those found in Peru and Mexico. The perimeter of the complex was enclosed with a massive stone wall.

Egyptian Pyramids Archaeologists :


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