The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Pyramid of Cheops is one of the oldest indications of the existence and rise of the civilization in the world. This pyramid is found in the Egyptian city of Giza that boasts of being the third-largest city in the entire land of Egypt. It is also situated on the western side of the River Nile. Within the Giza pyramid complex, there are three primary pyramids. Among these three pyramids, the Great Pyramid of Giza is supreme in its value, stature, and cultural representation of the ancient Egyptian civilization. It was built between the years of 2560 BC and 2540 BC, an approximate twenty-year span. Pharaoh Khufu, the second ruler of the fourth dynasty in Egypt, commissioned the construction of the Great Pyramid. The pyramid was 480 feet in height mainly due to the competition as the succeeding pharaohs wanted to excel their predecessors. Every pharaoh desired to outdo the success of their predecessors while aiming at arousing even more admiration from their subjects. They also sought to promote and lead their subjects in the worship of the pharaohs’ chosen gods. The Great Pyramid of Giza provides an insight into the vitality of religion, culture, and strict political systems of ancient Egypt.
In ancient Egypt, similar to the period during which the Great Pyramid was built, there was a strong adherence to the religious elements of the nation. It was in this light that the ancient Egyptians placed an extremely strong value on their gods and pharaohs. The gods of the ancient Egyptians were so special to them because people associated various distinct titles and roles with each of their gods and goddesses. The gods ranged from those in charge of the sun (Re), the sky (Horus), and even those who had control over the fertility of the people and the ground, such as Isis and Min. The ancient Egyptians, especially the pharaohs and other top leaders of the Egyptian society, worshiped a great range of these gods and goddesses and even created monuments in their honor. Through these gods and goddesses, the pharaoh ruled over and led the Egyptians. As such, the roles of the pharaohs were both religious and secular. Therefore, they were the uppermost leaders of ancient Egypt. It was also due to such attachment and power that they constructed the pyramids. As for the pharaoh who constructed the Great Pyramid of Giza, Khufu, there was a strong need to build such a massive pyramid to make certain that he had the gods on his side. The pharaohs and other leaders placed their gods and goddesses for worship within the pyramid and its surroundings. Some of these gods and their representations were even placed in the tombs of the pharaohs as a means through which the leaders would reach the other world in their afterlife. After they attained and managed their way into the afterlife, the pharaohs of ancient Egypt were considered to achieve the status of becoming gods themselves.
As stated above, the belief in the afterlife was a central concept in the culture of the ancient Egyptians. As a result of this belief, they came up with several cultural and traditional practices as a means through which they could prepare themselves for their journey and passage into the afterlife and the lives that they could live there. The most common practice among the pharaohs and their families was the construction of the pyramids.
Because of the ancient Egyptians’ belief in life after death, the pyramids were constructed under the instructions of the pharaohs who then made orders for the inclusion of the funerary complex within the pyramids such as the ones within the Great Pyramid of Giza. The primary function of the funerary complex and the reason for its inclusion were the preparation of the body of the pharaoh, his family, or servants with whom he would travel to the afterlife. In particular, the preservation processes such as the disembowelment of the pharaohs and other deceased bodies and the embalming process took place in these complexes. The main reason for the whole process of preservation was to make sure that the bodies were free from elements that would render them impure to enter the realm of the afterlife. Then, embalmers and other persons who were appointed to make the preservation processes made offerings to the gods to appease them and appeal for their guidance and protection of the pharaohs and those buried with him. As always, they also painted on the walls or made carvings on them detailing the life of the pharaoh. These paintings and carvings also included prayers and spells that would serve as a company for the pharaohs through their journey to the afterlife. Furthermore, they kept them from becoming disturbed or swayed in the course of their journey.
Just like religion played a major role in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the political organization of ancient Egypt was pivotal, as well. Pharaoh Khufu, similar to other pharaohs that had reigned over ancient Egypt, wielded much power over his subjects. It is under the auspices of such power that the Pharaoh made order to construct the pyramid. He was perceived as the representative of the gods and goddesses in the worldly realm. As stated above, the Pharaoh was both a secular and religious leader of the highest ranking in ancient Egypt. Because of such a standing, Pharaoh Khufu was feared and revered by virtually all ancient Egyptians who were his subjects.
Based on the massive and intricate structure of the Great Pyramid of Giza, it may be considered that the kind of input required for its construction was of a complex nature. This begs one to consider political aspects and powers of rulers and relate them to the ancient Egyptian society of the time. For instance, the size of the stones and the general height of the Pyramid of Cheops must have required a strong sense of organization. It also required the pulling of the large blocks of stone across and upward to the Great Pyramid. Additionally, the details on the walls inside the Great Pyramid are demonstrative of the level of organization and labor that its construction required. This is simply because it would be impracticable to propel people without the imposition of a centralized form of power. Any works of such massiveness and detail were only possible under the oversight of powerful individuals. Without such organized and powerful oversight, there would likely have been series of rebellions during its construction. This also indicated the hierarchical system upon which the ancient Egyptian administration was based. The centrality of power emanated from Pharaoh Khufu who employed it in the commissioning of his pyramid.
Additionally, it was around this time that the ancient Egyptians were introduced to the idea and the use of the hieroglyphics as a means through which they could record data, communicate, and even express themselves. Using hieroglyphics, the Egyptians were able to make their calculations, as well as plan and record the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The same hieroglyphics were used in the paintings and carvings on the walls of the Great Pyramid. Ancient Egypt was also in the process of reinforcing its newly acquired political and administrative system into a more comprehensive organization.
From the evaluation of the Great Pyramid of Giza, one is able to understand more about the historical, religious, cultural, and political status of ancient Egypt under the control of Pharaoh Khufu. With its twenty-year construction period between the years 2560 BC and 2540 BC, the Pyramid of Cheops played a significant role in the religious sphere of ancient Egypt. It was constructed under Khufu’s commission as a monument to his gods. It was also to serve as his tomb when he died and needed to start his journey to the afterlife. This aspect was influenced by the ancient Egyptian belief in life after death. There was also a political influence during its construction in the sense that Pharaoh sought to exercise more control and demanded more honor from the Egyptians. He wanted to outperform the predecessors in their legacy. This was made possible due to the ancient Egyptian belief in Pharaoh Khufu as both a secular and religious leader acting as a representative of the gods and goddesses. It was under this political power that it was possible to manage the building of the Great Pyramid. The skills and labor force employed in its construction demonstrated the level of the hierarchy and organized leadership of Pharaoh Khufu. Additionally, the use of hieroglyphics made it easier to construct the Great Pyramid of Giza because it allowed the communication between people and the recording of the data. As a result, they covered the walls of the pyramid with writings, paintings, and carvings that in their turn allow gaining an insight into the life and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.