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How were the pyramids built?

Pyramids and construction workersThe pyramids were built as huge stone tombs for pharaohs when they died. The largest one, the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was 147 metres (482 feet) high. It took thousands of workers many years to build a single pyramid. Most of the pyramids still stand today above the banks of the Nile, 4500 years after they were completed.


Step Pyramid

The Step Pyramid at Saqqara as it looks today
Underneath the Step Pyramid, the builders carved out a network of shafts, tunnels, chambers, galleries and storeroomsThe first pyramid was built for Pharaoh Djoser. Known as the Step Pyramid, it was designed for him by a brilliant architect called Imhotep. The pyramid, 60 metres (200 feet) high, was built at Saqqara, on the desert plateau overlooking the royal capital at Memphis. Beneath the pyramid, the builders carved a network of shafts, tunnels, chambers and galleries out of solid rock.

The pyramids were built exactly square with each face pointing directly towards north, south, east and west. The angle of slope was exactly the same for each face, with the pyramid’s peak lying precisely above the mid-point of the square that formed its base.

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