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  • NARRATOR: The West Bank of the River Nile,

  • home to the world's most iconic monuments,

  • the mighty pyramids of Giza.

  • The pyramids once housed the bodies of the pharaohs.

  • But though ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for nearly

  • 3,000 years, its kings only built huge tombs

  • like these for a few centuries.

  • Egyptologists are still trying to piece

  • together why the pharaohs stopped

  • constructing giant pyramids.

  • For Egyptologist Chris Norton, the majesty

  • of the ancient structures makes the fact

  • that Egyptians gave up building them all the more incredible.

  • 10 miles south of the legendary pyramids of Giza is Saqqara.

  • CHRIS NAUNTON: When we think about pyramids,

  • we tend to think of Giza, I think, and the Great Pyramid

  • of Khufu in particular.

  • But actually, this is where it all began.

  • NARRATOR: Chris has come to the birthplace of pyramid building

  • to search for clues to why Egyptians built giant pyramids

  • for less than 500 years.

  • Constructed a century before the iconic pyramids at Giza,

  • Egypt's first pyramid is a 200 foot tall mausoleum

  • of six huge limestone platforms carefully

  • engineered to spread the weight of rock and prevent collapse.

  • Deep inside is a giant shaft 26 feet wide and 82 feet deep.

  • At the bottom, the intended final resting place

  • of the Pharaoh Djoser.

  • CHRIS NAUNTON: Ultimately that's what it's all about.

  • That's where the body of a king is going to rest in eternity.

  • So you've gone to all this trouble

  • to create this incredible monument

  • around the body of that person.

  • It's pretty amazing.

  • NARRATOR: To house his mummy, huge chunks of granite

  • were slid down a passage into the shaft

  • and stacked, creating a giant sarcophagus

  • 19 feet long and 11 feet high.

  • CHRIS NAUNTON: My god, these pieces are huge.

  • Wow, it's amazing.

  • NARRATOR: But this wasn't just a tomb

  • designed to secure the pharaoh's physical body for eternity.

  • Crucially, for success in the afterlife,

  • the pyramid ensured the king was remembered by the living.

  • Completed around 2,650 BC, it sparked

  • an architectural revolution.

  • Djoser's six tier giant wasn't just the first pyramid.

  • It was the world's first monumental structure

  • built in stone.

  • Over the next century, Egypt's kings develop the concept,

  • building monumental tombs all along the Nile's West Bank,

  • including the first geometrically true pyramid,

  • the Red Pyramid, and the misshapen

  • experiment, the Bent Pyramid.

  • Then a dynasty of pharaohs built the most iconic monuments

  • in Egypt, the pyramids of Giza.

  • But just a few short centuries after the Great Pyramid

  • of Khufu rose from the desert, a new era was on the horizon.

NARRATOR: The West Bank of the River Nile,

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The Evolution of Ancient Egypt's Pyramids | Lost Treasures of Egypt

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/30
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