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Pyramids and construction workers The pyramids were massive stone monuments built by the pharaohs to house their own tombs. Tens of thousands of workers were employed to set in place the huge blocks of stone with great accuracy. The pyramid featured here was built during the 5th Dynasty (2465-2323 BC). It was part of a complex that also included a valley temple built at the river’s edge; a causeway leading up to a mortuary temple, which was built against the side of the pyramid; Queen's pyramids, built for the pharaoh's mother and queen; a smaller “satellite” pyramid; and an enclosure wall. The pharaoh himself was buried in a tomb hollowed out of the ground below the pyramid.

The entire pyramid complex, seen from above (plan view)

Precise construction

A pyramid had to be built to extremely accurate specifications. It was built almost exactly square, with each face pointing almost directly north, south, east and west. The angle of slope was to be exactly the same for each face, with the pyramid’s peak lying precisely above the exact mid-point of the square that formed its base. The pyramid would stand for all time, so its stones had be fitted with great care. Its interior was to be made up of horizontal stone layers faced by outer casing blocks of superior-quality limestone

The pyramid may have symbolized the rays of the sun, especially when they appear shining through a break in the clouds. The sun's rays might have served as a ramp by which the pharaoh ascended to the heavens.


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