The Great Pyramid Essay

Submitted By Cpennino
Words: 2927
Pages: 12

How The Great Pyramid Was Built

Christopher Pennino

World History I: Non-Western
SUNY Old Westbury
April 10, 2013

I chose to write my paper on the book, How The Great Pyramid Was Built, written by Craig B. Smith. Smith has a PhD in engineering from UCLA and is the former president of Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Mendenhall, and Holmes & Narver Inc., a global engineering, architecture and construction firm. The firm has taken on multiple public works projects such as subways in Korea, the renovation of the Pentagon and airport expansions, just to name a few. Smith notes in his book that much of his archaeological related information was from two authorities, Zahi Hawass and Merk Lehner. He also states that “they are considered among the best in their field.” The book tries to answer a lot of the unanswered questions regarding how the Great Pyramid also known as Khufu’s Pyramid was built. Specifically, how many workers it took, how long was the whole process, how it was planned, how did the workers transport the massive stoned used? While there is no concrete answer, Smith relies on many of today’s modern programs to establish sound conclusions to these questions. But, before I get into that portion of the book both Smith and I prefer to preface that with some of the history leading up to how and why the pyramids were built. The Great Pyramid was built in the time of the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt. Dates range from approximately 2600 – 2100 BC. The Egyptians lived in an area of isolation, not prone to attack. It is surrounded by natural barriers, deserts to the east and west and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Egypt also benefited from the fertile Nile River. The Nile River would flood annually at the same time each year. During the flood, it would bring with it black silt, depositing it into the nearby farmlands used by the Egyptians, making this an ideal location for a new civilization. The Nile also provided and means of transportation between Upper and Lower Egypt. During the time before the Old Kingdom @ 3000 BC the Upper and Lower Kingdoms were united by the first pharaoh of the First Dynasty, Menes. He was known as the “king of two Egypts.” (Smith p35) It was during this time that uniform laws and extended communication was established throughout the region. From this time forward, pharaohs ruled by divine right. The kings were looked upon as gods. Smith states that during the later dynasties there are carvings and statues with the sun god perched on the pharaoh evidencing the pharaoh as a divine figure. The pharaoh was considered the high priest, within his government he had other priests, tax collectors, nomarchs and a vizier. His vizier held a multitude of titles, “such as overseer of all the king’s works; seal bearer of the king; overseer of fields, gardens, cattle, peasant farmers and granaries; and steward of the king.”(p38) It is evident throughout this book, that the vizier played a detrimental part in the construction of the pyramid, he was the chief architect. It is also important to note, scribes played a large role as they would document important events, keep records, survey farmer’s fields to levy taxes and even teach the prince for his future role. Egyptians developed tools, irrigation systems, a solar calendar and made advances in math, measurements, science and religion. The calendar I found most interesting as it was based on 365 days according to Smith. Their calendar year began with the annual flooding of the Nile. They celebrated three seasons relative to the stages of the Nile, flooding (inundation), the Emergence of Fields from Water and the Drought. During the flooding, most farmers would partake in public work projects as their fields were under water. Once the water started to recede they would plant and during the drought they would harvest the crops. “Religion, a means of explaining the unknowable, played an important role in Egyptian life and helped