Ancient Egypt was one of the greatest world powers in history. The oldest ancient pyramid dates back to the 2630 BCE.
The kings of the kingdom were known as Pharaohs. They were held in such high esteem that they were seen as demigods. The pharaohs had so much power and authority that they were believed to bring them with them after their death to immortality. To facilitate their immortality, the Pharaohs invested heavily in mega structures on a scale not seen before. These gigantic structures became synonymous with Ancient Egypt and were known as The Pyramids.
The first dynastic period (3100 BC-2686 BC)
The Ancient Dynastic Period began after the unification of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt around 3100 BC and included the First Dynasty and the Second Dynasty. This was a time when the Kingdom of Egypt established itself as a cultural and economic center of the ancient world. Wealthy people in society conducted high-profile funerals that included the construction of large, flat-brick tombs with the roof known as mastabas . These mastabas were the precursors of the pyramids. The last Pharaoh of this period; Pharaoh Khasekhemwy had a large Mastaba built in the 27th century BC, which still stands out today.
The Old Kingdom (2686 BC- 2181BC)
The Old Kingdom was the period between the Third Dynasty and the Sixth Dynasty. This happened when ancient Egypt had an economic growth that was achieved through political stability. In the old kingdom, religious practices became more widespread as funeral rites became more elaborate. The mastabasof the previous era it gave way to the new architecture of the tomb, the Step Pyramid. The first king during the period was Pharaoh Djoser who built a necropolis near the then Egyptian capital, Memphis. This necropolis of Saqqara showed the first royal stepped pyramid built between 2584 BC and 2565 BC. However, the golden age of the pyramids began during the 4th Dynasty during the reign of Pharaoh Sneferu, whose pyramid at Meidum, built between 2520 BC and 2505 BC, was the first real pyramid.
After Sneferu’s death, his son Khufu took the throne and, inspired by his father’s work, proceeded to build the largest necropolis of all time: the Giza pyramid complex. This included his masterpiece, the Great Pyramid of Giza 481-foot, built between 2580 BC and 2560 BC. The Great Pyramid of Giza became synonymous with Ancient Egypt and the oldest and largest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Khufu was succeeded by his son Djedefra who transferred his father’s necropolis from Giza to Abu Rowash where a pyramid was built between 2447 BC and 2439 BC.
Khafra took the throne to succeed his elder brother Djedefra and transferred the royal necropolis to Giza from Abu Rowash where he built his pyramid between 2437 BC and 2414 BC. The end of the 4th Dynasty in 2496 BC marked the end of the golden age of the pyramids while the Egypt began the worship of the solar deity of Ra. The Pharaohs devoted less effort to the construction of the pyramids to concentrate on the temples dedicated to Ra. Numerous pyramids were built, but on a smaller scale, including the Pyramid of Nyuserre and the Pyramid of the Unas.
The Decline: The Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom (2055 BC- 1070 BC)
The ascension of Pharaoh Mentuhotep II in 2055 BC marked the beginning of a new era known as the Middle Kingdom. During this time, the Pharaohs stopped building pyramids for fear of vandalism and opted to be buried in secret tombs. During the New Kingdom (1550 BC-1077 BC) the Pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings and few pyramids were built.