To start of the New Year, and as my first post on this blog and the first post on African History month, I thought I would start with the last remaining wonder of the Ancient World: The Pyramids of Giza, situated in Egypt, Northern Africa. I would also just like to clarify that i am aware Egypt is considered transcontinental, due its positioning as a bridge between African and the Middle East, nevertheless the majority of its land mass resides on the African continent and thus fits this months criteria.
Many would presume that such a topic has been done, time and time again, however I find it only fitting that as we start a new year we remember the parts of History that could almost be classed as impossible and beyond human imagination, that occurred in the Ancient World. Therefore, it is no small wonder, that its classed as a wonder.
The Pyramids of Giza are the last whole remaining wonder of the Ancient World. They took 85 years to build but have lasted for 4’500 and counting. Until the Eiffel Tower was built, it remained the largest structure to ever have been built on Earth with human hands. It was built for the Pharaoh Khufu, of the Fourth Dynasty, and represents the phenomenon of a world that we know existed but can barely believe. The Pyramids have survived thousands of years of wars, weather and human intervention to remain a type of symbol for humankind, although, there are those who are convinced that Aliens helped build the Pyramids, but that’s more for a post about the History of supposed Alien intervention in Architecture.
The building of Pyramids was at their height during the time of the Old Kingdom (c.3100- 2181 BC); in the times of Middle Kingdom (c.2133-1786 BC) and New Kingdom (c.1567-1085), we see a dramatic drop in the nuance of Pyramid building, this is because during this time, there was government instability and the beginning of domination from outside influences. Therefore, this appears to have affected the standards of Pyramid building, which explains why we see a decline in later dynasties.
When you think of Pyramids, you think of the kings they house within their ancient walls. Many theories surround the Pyramids as to why they were built, however a tomb is the most logical and accepted answer. The kings of the 4th Dynasty are often referred to as “the pyramid builders”, but this was because they were able to command vast resources to build the pyramids. These resources were available to King Khufu in his time.
How they were built, however, proves to be the foundation shaker. As mentioned previously, there are those that adamantly insist that Aliens had to have a hand in creating the Pyramids. However, as our technology and our ability to infer improves, we can be almost certain that the methods of building used in Ancient Egypt to build such a wonder, were so common place, that nobody ever thought to record them. Although, it recalls a question of why bother creating something so magnificent if no one is going to bother putting their name to it. This could be considered an ancient type of ‘Da Vinci code’ or it could just be that the ancient Egyptian builders were able to listen to instructions. Still the intricacies of the interiors of the Pyramids and even the ability to mummify their dead points towards artistic direction from somewhere, but the debate is still there about who, how and why. I must also point out that contrary to popular belief, it is incorrect that Egyptian monuments, specifically the Pyramids were built on Hebrew slave labour, in fact, documented evidence of worker housing suggest that skilled Egyptians were hired and compensated for their efforts in creating the ancient tombs. Historians suggest they actively participated in the construction of the Pyramids because of their view that their God-like Kings deserved shrines. There is no evidence whatsoever from any era of Egypt’s history that supports the narrative events described in the Bible.
What the Pyramids of Giza show is the archaic development of building. They represent an evolution in building; as with every Pyramid, Ancient Egyptians furthered their knowledge on from the last, improving on their last work. Furthering my earlier suggestion that the reason the Pyramids appear so wondrous and magnificent is because they were built with, what evidence suggests as, word-of-mouth instructions. There is still so much to discuss and debate upon when it comes to the Pyramids and their legacy, as they are so well documented, however I just wanted to highlight why they appear so incredible to us as modern-day humans. With all our technology and innovation, we find it hard to accept that our ancestors could build better lasting structures than ours without some form of outside influence. It just goes to show, aliens are not always the answer.