School Link
Before we visit
During our visit
The Myth of Osirus
Methods of Burial
Gods, Religion & the Afterlife
After our visit
School Link - Pyramid

Knowledge and understanding of events, people and changes in the past

2 Pupils should be taught:

c) to identify and describe reasons for, and results of, historical events, situations, and changes in the periods studied.


Pyramids were really an extension of a simple sand pit tomb. Early on in Egyptian history a king called Djoser/Zosser built a tomb containing a pit lined with stone on top of this he built a limestone wall. The size of a kings tomb would depend on the life of a king, in the case of Djoser/Zosser, his tomb was extended time and time again. The lime stonewall was extended outwards then a another wall was built on top of the first wall and so-on ending with what people describe as a step pyramid, which I regard as an incorrect classification. The word “pyramid” is what we describe these stone monuments, the ancient Egyptians called them Mansions or Houses of eternity, meaning to last forever.

According to one of the early creation myths, out of the waters of chaos the primeval mound appeared, then a mythical bird from the east laid an egg on the mound and from the egg, burst fourth, the sun god Ra. This may explain why the early and middle Egyptian kings were eager to build their mansions of eternity, so high, another explanation could be that the spirits of the kings, who would live inside the mansions during the hours of daylight, could continue to rule Egypt and converse with the living. Another explanation for building their burial monuments so high could be, for the living population to continue to provide the spirit of the king with daily offerings or provisions.

The Egyptians believed that the spirit had to be fed, just like the living, in the case of the kings, mortuary lands were given to the priesthood who would reside at the pyramid complex and provide these ritual offerings through out the day, another way of obtaining offerings were from visiting pilgrims to the pyramid site, again the Egyptians believed that if the deceased person had a statue commissioned before death then the spirit could enter the statue and converse with the living. With this in mind, troubled Egyptians could seek special favours from deceased kings providing offerings were brought to honour the king’s spirit or in reality provide baksheesh (bribe).

On the lower ranking of society, a mansion of eternity could contain an offerings chapel where the deceased would hope there relatives would bring offerings to feed their spirits. In reality where death is very soon in coming and with no record of historical history on a national or local level, apart from inscriptions, several generations latter, between 100 – 150 years the deceased could be forgotten. To over come this problem the Egyptians came up with magic formulae to provide for the deceased, throughout eternity. Also because 70% of the population could not read or write ancient Egyptian (hieroglyphs) writing was regarded as magical. You could have a list of foodstuffs, which you wanted to consume for the rest of eternity, written down and these magical formulae would come alive providing the deceased forever.