"According to Redford, pharaohs traditionally began building their pyramids as soon as they took the throne. The pharaoh would first establish a committee composed of an overseer of construction, a chief engineer and an architect. The pyramids were usually placed on the western side of the Nile because the pharaoh's soul was meant to join with the sun disc during its descent before continuing with the sun in its eternal round. Added Redford, the two deciding factors when choosing a building site were its orientation to the western horizon where the sun set and the proximity to Memphis, the central city of ancient Egypt" (Science Daily). The entire process was thought out to complete a journey that would extend beyond life.
Most historical experts believe ramps were the mode of building the pyramids up. Donald Redford agrees with the prevailing thought that ramps were used to build pyramids. These ramps were made of mud brick and coated with chips of plaster to harden the surface. Redford says, "If they consistently raised the ramp course by course as the teams dragged their blocks up, they could have gotten them into place fairly easily," he noted. At least one such ramp still exists" (Science Daily). Bob Brier, a U.S. Egyptologist, also supports the notion of ramps for the construction the pyramids but with a little twist. Brier writes about a new and radical idea presented by Jean-Pierre Houdin, a French architect completely devoted to reconstructing the creation of the Great Pyramid. Along with computer simulation, Houdin surmises that an internal ramp was used to build the pyramid and is still inside the pyramid to this day. Houdin believes that an external ramp was used to build the bottom third of the pyramid but the ramp was too short to be the same ramp used at the top of the pyramid. While workers used an external ramp to build the bottom of the pyramid, an internal one was being built to build the top two-thirds of the pyramid. The internal ramp was put in place after the bottom portion of the pyramid was constructed and much of its shape was determined by the shape of the pyramid itself. "A bit of evidence appears to be one of the ramp's corner notches used for turning blocks. It is two-thirds of the way up the northeast corner -- precisely at a point where Houdin predicted there would be one" (Brier). Ian Shaw writes, that the "terraced nature of the pyramid core would often have made it more convenient to use a series of much smaller ramps built along the sides of the pyramid from step to step" (Shaw). Interestingly, Shaw suggests that pieces of the interior ramps have "survived inside the remains of the pyramids of Sahura, Nyuserra and Neferirkara, at Abusir, and of Pepi II, at Saqqara" (Shaw). With simulated experiements, the ramp theory seems to be the most logical way the huge blocks of stone were moved.
The pyramids in Egypt stand as proof of the incredible animal known as man. Society has evolved in many ways since thee monuments were constructed but they still baffle us. This evidence is a constant reminder that while we may want to think of ourselves as more advanced as those who lived thousands of years ago, were actually are not that much. We may have cell phones, GPS technology, HD televisions and the ease of living with many conveniences but we should not discount what the Egyptians did. We may not completely understand why they built such elaborate tombs, but they are still some of the most amazing structures ever created. Believing that the pyramid was their portal to another life was perhaps the most compelling reason to create such a wonderful building.
Brier, Bob. "How to Build a Pyramid." Archaeology. 2007. 60.3. March 03-2011. Web.
EBSCO Resource Database.
National Geographic: "Pyramids." March 03-2011. Web.