The Great Pyramid used to be so gleaming that it could be seen from space. The pyramids appeared considerably finer 4,000 years ago: they were coated in polished limestone, resembling bright lightforms thrown into the desert from the sky. Archaeologists believe this was done to make the structures easier to find.
Modern excavations have revealed that the original color of the pyramids was actually a dark grayish-black. They might have looked white or pale blue under the Egyptian sun, but not today when they are covered by several meters of sand.
The polished surface of the pyramids' limestone blocks made them sparkle in the sunlight. This must have given people the impression that the pyramids were built by a very powerful and advanced culture.
In fact, the Egyptians had developed their own method of stone carving long before they built the pyramids. The ancient Egyptians carved out huge blocks of limestone and diorite using only basic tools such as drills and chisels. They constructed large cities, pyramids, and tombs out of these stones without any help from metal tools. The ability of early humans to work hard rock is amazing!
People all over the world have been fascinated by the pyramids since they were first built. In fact, some historians have gone as far as saying that the pyramid shape is responsible for the creation of modern civilization.
Its climbing strata of massive limestone stones, which give it a slightly jagged look now, were originally buried by a smooth layer of fine white limestone. The limestone for the Great Pyramid's core was mined on-site at Giza, right south of the pyramid itself. It was loaded onto boats that were brought to the site and dragged up the steep slopes using ropes attached to both sides of the boat.
The original height of the pyramid was 467 feet (140 meters), much less than today's 641 feet (195 meters). Its base was also somewhat smaller than that of today's structure: 2133 feet (640 meters) compared to 2688 feet (845 meters). The pyramid was built as an extension of King Khufu's (who had the idea for the project) tomb, which is why it has no entrance of its own. Instead, it was designed to be climbed up to the burial chamber inside that of Khufu. The original purpose of the building activity that created the Great Pyramid was probably only to provide a worthy monument for the king's grave. However, it has been suggested that it may have also served as a solar observatory when used with mirrors placed within the pyramid's core. This would explain some of the features of the design including the angles between its sides and the alignment of its north and south poles.
Great Pyramid of Giza - 4th dynasty
Pyramidia were mainly formed of diorite, granite, or fine limestone during Egypt's Old Kingdom, then coated with gold or electrum; from the Middle Kingdom and to the conclusion of the pyramid-building era, they were built of granite. Only a few pyramidia have survived to the present day. Those that have not been destroyed were often re-used for other purposes such as temples or royal tombs.
All gold in ancient Egypt was used in the form of coins. Gold objects were common items in the graves of wealthy people, indicating that they must have had some use at one time. But even those who did not possess much gold probably knew someone who did, which means that there must have been a market for them. The only reason why people wouldn't want to keep money is if the government decided to stop making coins or if some other economic problem arose. If no coins were available, people would still need ways to pay each other back for goods and services.
The Pyramid Age came to an end around 1060 BC, when King Zoser initiated the First Dynasty by uniting Upper and Lower Egypt under his rule. His successors continued to build their own tombs instead of reusing old ones, and many original pyramid designs were changed significantly over time. By the end of the Second Dynasty (2613-2593 BC), almost all pharaohs were actually buried inside large rock-cut chambers called mastabas.
Today I discovered that the Giza pyramids were once white. When the pyramids were first completed, they were coated with a coating of white "casing stones" on the outside. The Great Pyramid is composed of around 2.3 million limestone pieces. Large granite stones may also be found in the pyramid, such as in the king's room. The Egyptians carved their names into the walls of the pyramids, which can still be seen today.
This article was written by Sarah Parcak, author of A Skeptic's Guide to Astrology.
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