Old Kingdom Egypt:


Osiris. A depiction of the Egyptian god Osiris, Lord of the Dead. On papyrus, from the Egyptian "Book of the Dead."

View of Stepped Pyramid of Vizier Imhotep.

Pyramids of Khufu (Cheops) at Giza, Old Kingdom Egypt, 2700-2200 BC. The Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza stood 230m at the base and 147m tall. Until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in 1888 it was the tallest man-made structure on the planet. By this point Egyptian architects had determined how to dress fine limestone blocks to form an outer casing to the monument, thus furnishing it with its distinctive, sloping, smooth sided facades. These in turn were aligned almost precisely according to the true points of the compass. From a technological standpoint alone the construction of this monument represents an unparalleled achievement. To construct the pyramid its designers employed some 2.3 million stone blocks weighing an average of 2.5 tons. The hierarchy employed corvée labor teams to quarry stone throughout the valley of the Nile: limestone blocks were extracted from cliffs along the east bank of the river; granite blocks were conveyed during the flood season from Aswan some 1100 km to the south. To raise the blocks into place laborers employed sturdy wooden sleds, which they hauled up earthen ramps built against the emerging structure. Modern architectural historians calculate that the building project would have required some 20,000 laborers twenty years to complete.


More views of same. Notice remains of limestone capping of Great Pyramid at right.

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