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Pyramids, c. 2500 BCE

Pyramids

No geometrical form is more closely connected in our consiousness with Egypt than the pyramid. Its simplicity, the square plan and four inclined faces meeting at the summit, is immensely pleasing when reproduced on a huge scale. But the form was arrived at through a combination of practical considerations and religious ideas rather than through aesthetic feelings.

A pyramid was a much safer structure to build than one with vertical sides- with a sensibly chosen incline of the pyramid’s sides its height was limited only by the builders’ ability to handle a huge volume of material. The form may have also been influenced by the shape of the benben stone which was sacred to the sun god at Heliopolis (the north-eastern part of modern Cairo).

This was a pyramid-shaped meteorite and its shape may have been imitated by royal pyramids when the cult of the sun god was in the ascendance in Egypt some time after 2600 BCE. The same religious ideas affected the whole pyramid complex by stressing its east-west axis and so the regions of the rising and setting sun.

Malek, Jaromir, Egypt; 4000 years of Art. London- Phaidon Press, 2003.

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