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pyramids egypt

The Pyramids of Egypt


By Nabil Swelim

This is a very short note on a vast subject of pyramids during all times of human history. The libraries have at least half a million volumes on the subject. Pyramids have always existed and are still being built all over the world.

To the layman, pseudo-scientific, supernatural and romantic entertainment on pyramids is unfortunately appealing. Science fiction and Egyptomania leads readers to get caught in fantasies which go beyond reason.

One has to consider that pyramid studies are not limited to Egyptian pyramids.  In all cases they have shown that they were built by people like us who are capable of creating wonders, but of making mistakes also. 

Indeed our Egyptian pyramids are famous within a global study. Generally, pyramid studies are being conducted in the field and the academia. In the field architectural and archeological work is the objective branch, and in academia pyramid research is the subjective branch.

egypt pyramid
A true pyramid shape; this is the Great Pyramid of King Khufu at Giza. He is the 2nd king of the 4th dynasty 2600 BC. We are looking along the E-W axis. It shows the side angle of the pyramid. The cultivation in the foreground is at a height of 18 m above sea level, the desert plateau is at a height of 60 m above sea level and the pyramid rises 148 m above the plateau. Nabil Swelim 1963.

egypt pyramid

The Step Pyramid of Horus Netjerykhet at Saqqara. His position is in the mid 3rd dynasty 2800 BC. We are looking along the N-E diagonal. It has gone through 9 stages of development: from a flat topped stone mastaba to a pyramid of 6 steps composed of accretion layers sloping at 73 degrees. The base is rectangular 140m E-W X 118m N-S, and the height is 60 m. Nabil Swelim 2003.

For the last 40 years I have discovered, excavated and published research material on pyramids. By doing that I was involved in both branches; some of the articles I wrote are the source of the information and the ideas in this note; they are listed here.

In Egypt, pyramid studies have been conducted since antiquity.  The remarkable works of Perring, Lepsius, Petrie, Borchardt, Fakhry and Lauer in the last 2 centuries and the present work of a very very few, has added to our present knowledge.  Yet we have not acquired enough information to answer all our questions. Consequently, our knowledge about pyramids remains relatively short. Meanwhile, pyramids are in a state of deterioration.

egypt pyramid

The Bent Pyramid of King Snofru at south Dahshur. He is the 1st king of the 4th dynasty 2700 BC. We are looking west along the E-W axis. The base length is 188.6 m and the height is 101.65 m. Tarek Swelim 1980.

Large blocks of limestone masonry at the pyramids of Giza with great amounts of mortar binding them together. They are of an average size of one m3 and weigh 2.5 tons each. Nabil Swelim 2005.

egypt pyramid

The Brick Pyramid of Senusert II at El lahun in the Fayum. He is the 4th king of the 12th dynasty 1900 BC. The nucleus is composed of cross walls of limestone over a rock knoll (3 courses are seen to the left, the lower 2 are covered with hornet mud nests). Binding the bricks together are small amounts of mortar and a filling of sand. Nabil Swelim 1980.

egypt pyramid

This is a modern clinic at Sharm el Sheik, it is built to resemble the shape of a 'Benben'. No ancient Benbens are well preserved today. Nabil Swelim 2008.

egypt pyramid

The dry masonry in the nucleus of the pyramid of Pepi I at south Saqqara. He is the 3rd king of the 6th dynasty 2500 BC. Seen over the entrance, a granite lintel spanning the corridor width, and large limestone blocks above it to carry off the weight of the pyramid; nevertheless the granite had cracked. Blocks of white limestone outer facing are seen on either side. Nabil Swelim 1980.

egypt pyramid

The natural rock knoll looking east; over it the Brick Pyramid of Abu Rawash number 1 by Lepsius. It was built for one of the kings of the late 3rd dynasty 2700 BC; this pyramid would have been as large as the pyramids of Giza and Dahshur. Nabil Swelim 1986.

egypt pyramids

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