Pyramid Evolution

October 29, 2019

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Photographer: Jim Bucko 
Summary Author: Jim Bucko 

The photos above illustrate the evolution of the pyramid in ancient Egypt. The top photo shows a mastaba, which is Arabic for bench. It’s a building that was built on top of a grave or tomb that contained several rooms for rituals. It also held items the deceased member of a royal family or a member of the nobility would require in the afterlife. Paintings or carvings on the walls of the Mastaba depicted the life of the deceased, showing what they wanted to do in their afterlife. The wealthier the individual being revered, the bigger the Mastaba.

An Egyptian king named Sneferu (2613-2589 BC) had a mastaba built for him but then lived longer than expected and so had more mastabas placed atop the original structure. This became known as the Step Pyramid, shown in the middle photo. Sneferu then had two more pyramids built that, in essence, smoothed the sides of the step pyramid. Subsequent kings made modifications to perfect the pyramid construction technique. Several different angles were tried until builders finally arrived at a standard of about 52.3 degrees on each side. The bottom photo shows the Great Pyramid on the Giza Plateau.