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Mysteries of the Ancient World
For many centuries people have been fascinated by ancient cultures and treasures. During the last two centuries the science of archeology and modern inventions allowed people to get inside of the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids and discover the treasures of Egyptian pharaohs and Mayan rulers. Most of what we know about Egypt we owe to the pyramids. Thanks to Egyptian belief in the afterlife we can now find out about the civilization that existed nearly five thousand years ago. Egyptian culture is not the only culture that left us its heritage in pyramids. In America we find pyramids build by civilizations of Olmec and Maya about 7th century CE. These pyramids had different purposes and usage then the ones in Egypt but they stand as memorials to ancient civilizations as well.
Egyptian people believed in life after death. One of the way pharaohs prepared themselves for the afterlife journey was by building a pyramid and putting there all their belongings and riches. Egyptian people believed that pharaoh is the closest person to the God and treated him accordingly. That is the reason for Egyptian tombs being full with the golden jewelry, precious stones and art objects. Most of the time art objects were not considered a treasury but they played their particular role in religious rituals. Jars were holding food and drinks for pharaoh’s journey, so he would not get hungry and would have
food and drinks to offer to the Gods. The figurative sculptures were suppose to accompany Ka ( spiritual entity) in its lonely stay or serve as a twin for the mummy. If something happens to the mummy the ka could use the sculpture of the pharaoh for the revelation.
As well as for Egyptians religion was an everyday concern for many of the Maya, whether the dynastic ruler, the zealous priest, or the humble believer. Maya has an extensive religion structure which we can not know in details. Chac and Itzamna are the most famous gods of Mayan culture. Hunahpu and Xbalanque are among the most interesting mythical characters. One of the most crucial gods was Tlaloc, who was worshiped in various guises by the culture of Teotihuacan, the Toltec of Tula, and later Aztecs. The Maya received the cult of Tlaloc during the 4th century more or less. The Cauac Monster, also known as the Witz monster, is a dominant supernatural concept in Maya religion, as are caves, cenotes, and other holy places (Maya Civilization pars. 6). The Maya built shrines, temples, and pyramids in honor of their gods, as well as to their kings, who ruled by all-encompassing concept of Divine power. Most of Mayan pyramids are temples to the gods, not the burial tombs as in Egypt. Even though Maya sometimes buried there their rulers they always put the temple on the top of the pyramid. Egyptians had temples near the pyramid or right next to it for the ceremonial services, but it never was placed on top of the structure.
Also buildings in both cultures have a lot in common in their visual characteristics they are different structures. Egyptian pyramids originally had smooth equal sides meeting on the top in the perfect apex. Mayan pyramids look like one huge stairway towards the sky. It reminds of earliest Egyptian structures-mastabas, where one layer of stones was put onto another creating the effect of pyramid. Also The Tikal Temple on Great Plaza was originally plastered white. Then the roof comb was painted with reds, blues, and other colors to accent the different areas of sculptural decoration. These roof combs were like giant billboards, with immense portrayals of the enthroned king, larger then life size (Cities pars.3). Egyptians never colored their religious structures. As well as in Egyptian pyramids, the stone used to construct Mayan pyramids is local limestone, obtained from nearby quarries. The ancient Maya had no stone tools but limestone is soft enough that the Maya could utilize chert tools to work the stone in to neat rectangular building blocks. Egyptian pyramids served as huge tombs and they were constructed in such a way so they would stand for thousand years. Egyptians did not know when the spirit would return into the dead body. Pyramids were constructed of rough stone blocks laid in horizontal rows, in a polygonal shape, with triangular sides rising to meet in the apex. Some were originally as high as 750 feet. The pyramids were built by taking blocks of granite to the workshops, measuring the blocks down the size, shaping the block and placing it into the body of the pyramid. Then on top of the built structure workers put the limestone going from the top to bottom.
Egyptians left two empty rooms to place the pharaoh’s mummy and his belongings in. They sealed pyramids so well that it took four hundred years for robbers to get in. It is believed that the pyramids would be standing intact today if it were not for later destruction by robbers and invaders and for use as a building material. As it is, the massive stone buildings are rising right now outside of Cairo. The interiors of these huge stone structures contain a series of a narrow passages, ending in several large chambers. The central chamber was the burial room, always reached by a passage from the north, and containing a false stone door on the west side, representing an exit for the deceased soul. The roofs of these chambers were formed of layers of stone beams, lying on top of another, each layer weighing more then 30 tons. The passages into burial chamber was often hewn out of the rock directly from the outer edge. As well as Egyptian pharaoh Mayan rulers like Giant Jaguar was buried in his tomb with hundreds of offerings-vases, jade, jewels and so on. Mayan temple-pyramids usually contained one or more rooms, however, the rooms were so narrow that they could only have been used on ceremonial occasions and were not meant for public consumption.
Most of the Egyptian pyramids were built by six pharaohs of the Old Kingdom, and were considered sacred shrines. On the contrary to general beliefs pyramids were built by free citizens, drafted to public work, not by slaves. Thousand experts worked on the design of pyramids all year round. An extra work group about ninety-five thousand men worked on the construction site during the four month period of the inundation ( the time of enforced idleness for farmers, since the fields were covered with the water of Nile) (Payne 24).
The most famous Egyptian pyramids are the three pyramids five miles southwest of Giza, which is three miles southwest of Cairo. The l
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