|Fig.1: If the pyramids were built today, insurance companies would claim they need to be replaced in thirty years to account for "regular wear and tear" and "water damage."|
Ancient Egyptians put a lot of stock in the afterlife. The belief that the soul continued to survive past the life of the body influenced every facet of Egyptian society, from their art, to their religion, to their willingness to eat one more piece of cheesecake because "I'll just work it off in the afterlife." And they probably would, because the Egyptian great beyond wasn't a cushy gated community where you lounge around on clouds playing harps all day like the Christian Heaven. After death, the real adventure begins: you journey to the Hall of Two Truths, where you have to fight monsters, recite spells, solve puzzles, decrypt passwords, collect amulets, find the Heart Pieces, and defeat all 100 Golden Skulltulas. Even when you got there, if your heart did not weigh less than a feather, you'd be eaten by the demon Ammit who had body that was part-lion, part-hippo, and part-crocodile. Talk about a let down (and overkill)!
This eventually culminated with the pyramids built outside the present town of Giza. The largest pyramid in the necropolis is believed to have been built for the pharaoh Khufu, who ruled in the early 2500s BC during the Fourth Dynasty. At a height of 481 feet, it became the largest man-made structure the world until the construction of the Lincoln Cathedral in England in 1311 (though it briefly reclaimed the title in 1326 when it was attacked by King Kong, fig.3). Little is known of Khufu, other than what can be inferred from a vague inscription inside the pyramid's chambers, an ivory statue found within a distant temple, and a papyrus receipt from the local market that included the purchase of Cosmopolitan magazine. Weirdo. The three tiny pyramids standing in front of the larger ones are called the queens pyramids, because they are believed to house the corpses of Khufu's wives (cause you know they were going on about how, "You never build anything nice for me!").
|Fig.3: Climbing the tallest buildings makes King Kong |
feel good inside. Watch out, Burj Khalifa in Dubai!
There has always been a question as to who actually built the pyramids. No, I'm not referring to those boneheaded conspiracies about aliens stopping by the North African desert and feeling the urge to make some triangles in relation to the summer solstice or Orion's belt or what shape their mashed potatoes took when piled on their plates. I mean, whose rough calloused hands carved and carried these massive chunks of rock in the service of the pharaoh? Tradition dictates that the only people crazy enough to put themselves through the torture of building the pyramids were those forced to put themselves through the torture of building the pyramids; aka: slave labor. This idea first arose through the Greek historian Herodotus, who lived 2000 years after the fact and heard about it from a friend of a pharaoh, and reinforced through the biblical imagery of Moses shouting, "Let my peeps go!" In fact, newer evidence proves that the poor schlubs who built the pyramids weren't poor or schlubby at all, but actually skilled workers held in high esteem! Behind the pyramids, archaeologists found remains of a worker's village, complete with all the amenities of Anytown, USA, as well as a nice-sized cemetery. If the builders were merely slaves, would they have been given the honor of having a proper burial just yards away from the pharaoh's sacred tomb? Donald Trump wishes he could be that lucky!
|Fig.4: "What do you call cheese that doesn't belong to you? Nacho cheese!"|
|Fig.5: Those appendix scars never quite go away.|
Four and a half thousand years later, the pyramids continue to stand tall in the sands outside of Giza, as well as in the public imagination. People from all over the world associate the Giza Necropolis with everything Egypt, and dream about the secrets that these tombs may hold. Although mankind has since constructed larger, more elaborate, and more attractive monuments (how you doin', Statue of Liberty?), you just can't beat the simplicity and majesty of the pyramids at Giza. I think that's all I've got to say about that!
Ah, my spleen! I guess I failed to mention the Sphinx recently enough. Now my senescent red blood cells will never have their hemoglobin metabolized! No!