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The Great Pyramids
The Great Pyramids

The icons most associated with Egypt are the pyramids. They are not only an architectural accomplishment, but also a source of imaginative thought for over three thousand years. The Great Pyramids of Giza are some of the most famous manmade objects in the world and the only original "Wonder of the Ancient World" that still survives, and like most pyramids, they are located within a few miles of Egypt's capital, Cairo. Modern Cairo is near the ancient city known as the White Walls, though most people know it better by its Greek name, Memphis. The pyramids are clustered in areas referred to as pyramid fields, usually a part of a larger necropolis containing other types of tombs.

Over the years, our knowledge of the pyramids has evolved considerably. Today, most scholars believe that the pyramids were not built using slave labor. We can also dismiss theories related to aliens or some lost culture being responsible for erecting the pyramids. There is much evidence, like tools, drawings, evolutionary changes, and even worker villages that rule these ideas obsolete. However, some mysteries remain, and there may even be one or more pyramids yet to be discovered.

While pyramids were built as tombs for Egyptian Pharaohs, most people still question the pyramids' particular shape and size. It is believed that they mimic the Benben, a pyramid shaped stone found in the early temples, which symbolizes the primeval mound from which the Egyptians believed life emerged. The shape is also connected to Ra, the Sun God, who according to the ancient Egyptian mythology, rose from the primeval mound to create life. The size of the pyramids was probably a statement about the Pharaohs' own power and the glory of their country.

The Pyramid Age in Egypt started with the 3rd Dynasty, during the reign of king Djoser. Some of the early kings built more than one pyramid, and most kings added more pyramids until the end of the Middle Kingdom. After the first Pharaoh of Egypt's New Kingdom, Ahmose, building of the royal pyramids stopped entirely. The kings of the New Kingdom chose to hide their tombs in the hills of the West Bank of Thebes (modern Luxor), rather than making them obvious. Today, there are over 100 pyramids in Egypt, and only one royal pyramid is known in southern Egypt, the one built by Ahmose, founder of the 18th Dynasty and Egypt's New Kingdom. It may have also been the last royal pyramid built in Egypt.