Monday, February 26, 2007
Practice makes perfect pyramids
The Great Pyramid rises up some 45 stories from the desert floor in perfect stunning geometry. Yes, ancient Egyptians had to be genius engineers but they didnt' get it perfect right from the start. There are actually nine pyramids in Giza near the Great Pyramid and 76 total in Egypt. Only one is so large and flawless.
We saw some of the other, lesser, failed experiments in Saqqara, near Cairo, which was the necropolis of the old Egyptian capital city of Memphis. Some, like that in the top photo, are little more than sand piles now. But the bottom photo is of the Step Pyramid, a great architectural innovation. Until this structure royal tombs were covered over with a mud-brick mastaba, which is a kind of bench. Then in the 27th Century BC -- mind-boggling -- this guy Imhotep gets the idea to use stone not mudbricks and to stack six benches atop one another. Voila, an early pyramid that is still pretty impressive looking.