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Famous Egyptian Structures

Many historians and Egyptologist agree that the ancient Egyptians were the first builders. It is believed that they are the first teachers who taught mankind the process of designing and construction. The structures built by the ancient Egyptians were the platform of human civilization and urbanization. Thus, the settlement they created in their homeland was regarded as the pioneer in history. With their capabilities to build world class structures, they were able to reach high levels in architectural design and engineering.

The structures that Egyptians were able to perfect were only built from primitive tools that may not surpass modern machineries and equipments. If one would point a finger on the ancient Egyptian structures, one would think that the knowledge that ancient Egyptians applied to their works are far better than what civilizations have at present. However, the existing colossal structures that still astonish the world today are the result of ancient Egyptians’ purely experimental and simple tools.

During the time of the ancient Egyptians, the only tools that were applied for the construction were molded stone blocks out of solid stones, copper, or bronze. These tools, alongside with a builder’s thread used for delineating vertical lines, an angle, measuring arm of 52 cm long, and a straight edge, were the very reason why ancient Egyptian structures still stand to date. Furthermore, the undoubtedly significant success of these architectures may also be attributed to the well-trained group of workers who exerted unmatched efforts on the process of the constructions (Egyptian Government).

Perhaps one of the greatest ancient Egyptian structures that leave impressions among the people who see them is the pyramids. The pyramids are considered as the most famous structures built in history. The first pyramids were constructed under the reign of Sneferu. The three pyramids that were first built under his reign became the basis of other pyramids found in Egypt. These include the pyramid at Medum, which was created as a step pyramid and was later on modified to form the first true pyramid. The other two pyramids were built in Dashur. One of the pyramids was called Bent Pyramid.

Originally, the Bent Pyramid was planned to be created as the true pyramid. However, the upper portion of the said structure had an angle of inclination that is shallower compared to its lower portion (Millmore). It is believed that pyramids were constructed for religious purposes. Most of the pyramids in Egypt are tombs created as primitive burial mounds. Some texts suggest that the pharaohs believed that the living body of a person has a double or ka. According to this belief, if the flesh of persons who died were preserved against hunger, decay, and violence, the ka would survive and would not die like the flesh.

The pyramids’ height, form, and position were associated with deathlessness. Excluding its square corners, the natural form of the pyramids was believed to be free from the obstructions of the earth (“Purpose of the Pyramids”). By the time Sneferu’s son, Cheops (also known as Khufu), became the pharaoh, he restricted the growing number of priesthood by closing temples and forbidding sacrifices. However, it was during his leadership that the largest and best pyramid was created, known as the great pyramid of Giza.

Because of the Nile’s annual flood which made farming impossible, every three months of each year, one hundred thousand people worked for the construction of the pyramid. For over four thousand years, the majestic Giza pyramid was considered as the tallest building in the world. Its four angles were associated with the principal points of the compass. At the base, the length of each side is 755 ft and the angles were 51 and 52 degrees. Originally, the pyramid stands to a height of 458 feet, but today, its measure is decreased to 451 feet. The construction took “2,300,000 limestone blocks” each of which weighs approximately 2.

5 tons, noted to be the most formidable mass of stone construction built by man (Millmore). Inside the pyramid, decorated stones coated with bright layer served as its foundation. At present, only few of these stones can be found. Meanwhile, the burial chamber is made out of granite. This is where the sarcophagus of the king lies. Its ceiling holds 400 tons of 9 granite blocks. Five separate niches lie above, four of which have a flat ceiling and the remaining niche has a slanted one serving as a foundation avoiding the collapse of the heavy building (Egyptian Government).

Another famous ancient Egyptian structure is the Great Sphinx. Regarded as the “national symbol of both ancient and modern” Egypt, the Great Sphinx sits at the northeast of Khafre’s valley temple. This statue is said to be the first royal sculpture in Egypt. The term “sphinx” that translates to the word “strangler” was first adapted by the Greeks and was used to name the “creature with a woman’s head, a lion’s body, and the bird’s wings” (“The Great Sphinx”). Although many sphinxes can be found in Egypt, the Great Sphinx stands out among the rest.

During the reign of Kahfre (son of King Khufu) 4,500 years ago, it is believed that his workers were responsible for shaping the stone into the lion and its face is the portrait of the king. On the “dream stele” that lies in the middle of the Great Sphinx’s paws, Khafre’s name was mentioned (Winston). The sphinx was thought to be the protector of Khafre’s tomb from the evil spirits and was noted as the guardian figure. For the Arabs the Great Sphinx is known as Abu al-Hawl or father of terror (“The Great Sphinx”).

The materials used for building the sphinx were limestone bedrocks which are called the Muqqatam formation. These rocks originated from the deposited sediments beneath the sea waters of northeast Africa. Since the solidified layers of mud were found in a lagoon, what the workers did was to isolate a rectangular bedrock block from a U-shaped ditch that the workers have channeled deeply. This is where the body of the sphinx was carved out. Around the sphinx’s head are hard limestones that were quarried to draw blocks that were used for the structure of pyramids.

The excess limestones that were removed from the body were utilized in building both the temples found at the east of the sphinx. The body of the sphinx measures 72. 55 meters in length with the height of 20. 22 meters. The width of its face is four meters, with eyes that are two meters in height and mouth of approximately two meters in width. Its nose is deemed to be over 1. 5 meters and its ears are a little bit longer than one meter. For most of its life, the figure was said to be buried in the sand.

It was only between 1925 and 1936 that the sphinx was excavated. The excavation was spearheaded by French engineer Emile Baraize. It was said that the sand became the protection of the figure. If not for the sand, it is believed that the Great Sphinx would have already disappeared back then. Today, the statue of the great sphinx is eroding because of factors like wind, fog, and humidity. Fissures were seen in some of the areas of the sphinx. However, the focus of works done in the structure today is directed towards its preservations (Winston).

What the ancient Egyptians were able to accomplish back then has greatly influenced the aspect of engineering and architectural design of today. The precise and perfect structures that Egyptians have created are a manifestation of things that can be achieved through simple ways. Furthermore, the structures that were discussed are just some of the proof that the ancient Egyptians were able to put in good use the knowledge and skills that may be compared to the improved technological capabilities of today. Works Cited Egyptian Government. “Construction in Egypt. ” Tour Egypt. 2005.

18 July 2008 <http://www. touregypt. net/featurestories/construct. htm>. Millmore, Mark. “The pyramids of Giza. ” Discovering Egypt. 18 July 2008 <http://www. eyelid. co. uk/pyramid3. htm>. “The Great Sphinx, Giza. ” Sacred Destinations. 2008. 18 July 2008 <http://www. sacred-destinations. com/egypt/giza-sphinx. htm> “The Purpose of the Pyramids of Egypt. ” Love Egypt. 2007. 18 July 2008 <http://www. love- egypt. com/pyramids-of-egypt. html>. Winston, Allen. “The Great Sphinx of Giza: An introduction. ” Tour Egypt. 2005. 18 July 2008 <http://www. touregypt. net/featurestories/sphinx1. htm>.

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