The Egyptian Pyramids are colossal structures used by the ancient world for religious purposes. The largest and most remarkable of the pyramids occur in several groups on the west side of the Nile extending for a distance of twenty five miles reaching as far as Cairo. The are built from hard limestone and large blocks of limestone, especially on the outside surface. They date from 3000 BC to 2300 BC. Great skill was needed to quarry these large blocks, transport them and then place them in position. The Ancient Egyptians were very well organised and had a good understanding of technology, science and mathematics to enable them to build what has become known as one of the wonders of the ancient world.
One of the first tasks of the pyramid builders who constructed the pyramids was to build a track on which they could drag the large blocks from the quarry in the Arabian Hills to the River Nile where they were ferried up to the construction site. The work went on in three monthly shifts with one hundred thousand men in a single shift. It took ten years to build the track. It took the same number of men 20 years to complete the Cheops pyramid. Originally the pyramids were smooth on the outside but through the thousands of years since construction this has disappeared, revealing the tiers or steps underneath. Each tier is about a metre in height.
The pyramids were built by kings as tombs or memorials of themselves and it is thought that they were started at the beginning of each reign and that the height corresponded with the length of each reign.
The pyramid of Cheops was originally 146 metres high and the technology for lifting the blocks into position was well designed. Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the world, the pyramidsâ€”especially the Great Pyramids of Gizaâ€”are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history. Their massive scale reflects the unique role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society. Though pyramids were built from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the close of the Ptolemaic period in the fourth century A.D., the peak of pyramid building began with the late third dynasty and continued until about the sixth (c. 2325 B.C.). More than 4,000 years later, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty, providing a glimpse into the countryâ€™s rich and glorious past.
Pyramids continued to be built throughout the fifth and sixth dynasties, but the general quality and scale of their construction declined over this period, along with the power and wealth of the kings themselves. In the later Old Kingdom pyramids, beginning with that of King Unas (2375-2345 B.C), pyramid builders began to inscribe written accounts of events in the kingâ€™s reign on the walls of the burial chamber and the rest of the pyramidâ€™s interior. Known as pyramid texts, these are the earliest significant religious compositions known from ancient Egypt.