The age of the first ancient wonders of the world began with the pyramids of Sneferu, he built three pyramids and may have had a hand in others. His pyramid at Medum began as a step pyramid and was then modified to form the first true pyramid. He built two pyramids at Dahshur one called the Bent Pyramid because its upper part has a shallower angle of inclination than the lower part. Seneferu's Bent pyramid at Dahshur was originally planned as a true pyramid, but its geometry was altered at a point just above half its height. The angle of incline was decreased from 54? 31' 13'' to 43? 21'. When Khufu, also known as Cheops, became pharaoh one of his first acts was to curtail the growing power of the priesthood. He "shut up all the temples and forbade sacrifices". As a priest’s living came from performing these rituals it is not surprising that Khufu was unpopular with the religious orders. Khufu's pyramid at Giza showing the plan of passages and burial chamber. Some believe that his pyramid at Giza was built by slaves but this is not true. One hundred thousand people worked on it for three months of each year. This was the time of the Nile's annual flood which made it impossible to farm the land and most of the population was unemployed. He provided good food and clothing for his workers and was kindly remembered in folk tales for many centuries. There are three pyramids at Giza, each of which once had an adjoining mortuary temple. Attached to this temple would have been a covered causeway descending down to a valley temple, near the Nile. The 'great' pyramid itself is truly an astonishing work of engineering skill - for over four thousands years, until the modern era, it was the tallest building in the world. The sides are oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass and the length of each side at the base is 755 feet (230.4 m). They rise at an angle of 51 52' to a height , originally, of 481 feet (147 m) but nowadays 451 feet (138 m). It was constructed using around 2,300,000 limestone blocks, weighing, on average, 2.5 tons each. Although some weigh as much as 16 tons. Until recently, relatively speaking, it was cased in smooth limestone but this was plundered to build Cairo.
The Great Sphinx of GizaThe Great Sphinx of Giza (Arabic: Abu al Houl, English: The Terrifying One), commonly referred to as the Sphinx, is a limestone statue of a reclining or couchant sphinx (a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head) that stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. It is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 73.5 metres (241 ft) long, 19.3 metres (63 ft) wide, and 20.22 m (66.34 ft) high. It is the oldest known monumental sculpture, and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of the pharaoh Khafra (c. 2558–2532 BC
The step pyramid of King Djoser sets the mood for the whole Saqqara necropolis. Djoser was the 1st king of the 3rd dynasty and ruled Egypt for some 20 years. His Horus name is Netjerykhet Djoser. This is the first pyramid in Egypt and the first large stone structure in the world. It marks a truly Monumental leap forward in architecture in Egypt and the world. The complex is entered through the southeast corner of the reconstructed perimeter wall. It is here also that we find the first pillars in Egypt. They are elongated supposedly because the Egyptians were unsure how much weight they could sustain. The step pyramid bears witness to a series of enlargements. The structure was started as a masataba and enlarged twice. It was further enlarged to a 4 step pyramid and finally to its current 6 step shape. On the southeast corner of the great courtyard is a large rectangular structure. It is decorated with friezes depicting a group Uraeuses, the sacred cobra and protector of sovereignty. On the east side is a reconstructed royal pavilion and probably used to hold the royal ka during the Heb-sed festival. The South House is located just southeast of the pyramid. It was discovered in 1924 and completely reconstructed. A Khekeru frieze surmounts the door lintel, next to which are two fluted columns. What we see today is mostly thanks to the 70 years of work by Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer.
Memphis, was the ancient capital of the first nome of Lower Egypt, and of the Old Kingdom of Egypt from its foundation until around 1300 BC. Its Ancient Egyptian name was Ineb Hedj ("The White Walls"). The name "Memphis" is the Greek deformation of the Egyptian name of Pepi I's (VIth dynasty) pyramid, Men-nefer. The modern city of Mit-Rahineh, south of Cairo. The ruins are 19 km (12 miles) south of Cairo on the West Bank of the Nile. The city was founded around 3100 BC by Menes of Tanis, who united the two kingdoms of Egypt; with some 30,000 inhabitants, it was by far the largest settlement worldwide at the time. Memphis reached a peak of prestige under the 6th Dynasty as a centre of the cult of Ptah. It declined briefly after the 18th Dynasty with the rise of Thebes and was revived under the Persian satraps before falling into firm second place following the foundation of Alexandria. Under the Roman Empire, Alexandria remained the most important city. It remained the second city of Egypt until the establishment of Al Fustat (or Fostat) in 641. Memphis was then largely abandoned and became a source of stone for the surrounding settlements. It was still an imposing set of ruins in the 12th century but soon became little more than an expanse of low ruins and scattered stone. The remains of the temple of Ptah and of Apis have been uncovered at the site as well as a few statues, including two four metre ones in alabaster of Ramesses II. The Saqqara necropolis is close to Memphis. It is believed by Tertius Chandler that Memphis was the largest city in the world from its foundation until around 2250 BC and from 1557 to 1400 BC. Its population was over 30,000.
Dahshur is located about 8km south of Saqqara. The site is dominated by the 4th dynasty pyramids of Sneferu, the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid, which can be seen from the Step Pyramid. Sneferu's Pyramids are easy to reach, there is a road that goes right up to them. But the other pyramids are very difficult to reach. One is near the entrance to the necropolis, but lies within the boundaries of a refinery. The others require a long walk through the soft sand, if you can find them! The first pyramid encountered is the Red (North) pyramid of Sneferu. The name derives from the color of the limestone used to build the pyramid. The Red pyramid is extremely large, almost as large as Khufu's Pyramid. The pyramid is entered from the north. The entrance is almost halfway way the the side, and is reached by a metal staircase. The interior is well worth exploring, it as many features used in the Great Pyramid were first used here. The Bent (South) Pyramid of Sneferu is located about 2km south. It is one of the rare pyramids were most of it's casing is still intact. This is considered the first true pyramid in Egypt. The bent shape, which occurs about half way up, is believed to be caused by sudden change in plans by the Ancient Egyptians. Egyptologist believe that the plan slope was changed (from 60° to 55°) to accommodate cracks in the foundation. Although this is just conjecture, It's not inconceivable that the Ancient Egyptian's intended it this way. To the immediate east of the Bent Pyramid is the 12th dynasty mudbrick pyramid of Amememhet II, called by the locals "The Black Pyramid", because of its dark appearance. The 12th dynasty mudbrick pyramid of Senwosret III is located a few hundred meters on the right to the road that leads to the Red Pyramid. It is located next to an oil refinery and is difficult to access. To the south of the Red Pyramid is the 12th dynasty pyramid of Amememhet II and the Central Dashur Pyramid.
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