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Pyramid Paper - Social Studies Jan 28 2001 Whats so great...

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Social Studies Jan. 28, 2001 What’s so great about the Great Pyramid of Egypt? Everything: Its height of 482 feet, its base of 13 acres, its millions of huge bricks. For 4,400 years, the Great Pyramid was the tallest structure in the world. It is still the world’s largest stone structure. But perhaps the greatest thing about the Great Pyramid was the ability of the ancient people who built it, with only the simplest tools. No wonder it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. And no wonder the Egyptians believed the Great Pyramid was a door into the afterlife. The Great Pyramid was built for Khufu. He was the pharaoh, or god-king, who ruled for 23 years in the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Then pharaohs were glorified as living gods. They had absolute power and owned all of Egypt. As soon as they were crowned, they started planning their pyramids. Khufu ordered the biggest pyramid ever built in about 2,606 B.C. Nobody knows when it was finished, but most scientists think it took about 30 years. The pyramid was a tomb to shelter the king’s body after death. Egyptians had special ideas about death. They weren’t gloomy. Instead, they thought life was good and saw death as an extension of life. They had a strong desire for eternal life and they made great preparations for death. They mummified, or preserved, their bodies, so their spirits would survive death and
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the gods would recognize them. They furnished their tombs with many items for the afterlife, even food. The pharaoh, richest of all, had the biggest tomb. Perhaps the pyramid shape evolved from burial mounds. Or maybe it was simply the easiest way to build a tall building without modern tools, like cranes. Some people say the pyramids honor the Egyptian idea of the first hill that rose from the water at the world’s creation. But the most popular explanation is that the pyramid was shaped like the sun’s rays beaming down to form a staircase to eternity for the pharaoh, who was the earthly form of the sun god Re. Pyramids may even once have been tipped in gold to shine like the sun.
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