Adults and children alike are fascinated by the Great Pyramids of Egypt's Giza Plateau. Why these pyramids were built remains something of a mystery. However, there is no question that children are enthralled by them, and with a little preparation, a trip to Egypt can be a great learning experience and an exciting adventure for you and your child.
- Age-appropriate Egyptian history books
- Age-appropriate Egyptian pyramid history on DVDs
- Maps of Egypt
Explain to your child the historical importance of the Egyptian pyramids. Find age-appropriate books or DVDs and maps for her to read or view to better understand the history and significance of the pyramids.
Explain to your child that the "Pyramid Age" during the Old Kingdom, according to National Geographic, was 2775 to 2150 B.C. Before pyramids were used as tombs, pharaohs were buried in far more simple mastabas. After the pyramids, pharaohs and queens were buried in tombs cut from solid rock in the Valley of the Kings.
Prepare your child for his tour of the pyramids by pointing out that the Great Pyramid of Cheops is the only one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to survive. Explain that there are more than 100 pyramids in Egypt and talk about the Pharaoh Djoser's pyramid at Saqqara, considered to be the first Egyptain pyramid. Built about 2630 B.C., it is a step pyramid, built with six flat layers, each progressively smaller.
Discuss the cities that grew around the pyramids during construction. Although tradition has held that slaves built the pyramids, archaeologists now believe that the workers were paid, housed and fed during construction. These "pyramid cities" were temporary and all but vanished when the work was done. Some workers remained on site to care for the pyramid or to guard it.
Talk with your child about how pharaohs were buried in their pyramids with fortunes in gold and other treasures. The ancient Egyptians believed they would need "grave goods" in the afterlife and so were buried with an array of items, including boats and chariots, golden idols, baskets and jars and many other objects. Some pyramids contained courtyards and storerooms, secret passages and numerous traps designed to thwart would-be looters.
Prepare your child to understand the size of the stones used in pyramid construction and the enormity of the entire structure. Explain to her that the Great Pyramid, for example, was built with about 2.3 million cut stone blocks and that each block weighs between 2.5 and 15 tons.
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