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This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka, www.liberalparty-srilanka.org
The entire text of Historical Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website.
Everyone has seen pictures of the Pyramids. Earlier, historians thought that these large structures, so many of which can still be seen in Egypt, were only used as tombs for great kings. We have now found that pyramids had a much greater function, which will be discussed later. In fact pyramids probably had many functions.
The ancient Greek Historian Herodotus called Egypt the ‘Gift of the Nile’. Even today, the Nile river is very important to Egyptians. Although there is little rain in Egypt, the flooding of the river every year makes the Nile Valley a fertile ground. This made it attractive to settlers, and so began the Egyptian Nation. Ancient Egypt was ruled by the Pharaohs.
Little was known about ancient Egypt, largely because no one could understand their hieroglyphics, or picture writing. Then in 1799, when Napoleon invaded Egypt, a group of soldiers discovered, among some ruins, a stone with writing on it that they soon realized was very special. That stone is known as the Rosetta Stone, and on it were Greek letters and Egyptian hieroglyphics. A French Scholar, Jean Champollion, used this to unlock the mystery of Egyptian writing and so opened the way for the study of Egyptian History.
The first pyramid was built by Zoser and his clever Minister Imhotep. It is called the ‘Step Pyramid’. In 2613 BC Pharaohs began to build pyramids in earnest. The biggest pyramid is called the Great Pyramid and stands in Giza. The King who built it was Khufu, or Cheops. His name means ‘Smasher of Foreheads’. He was a very strict ruler as his name shows. Read the rest of this entry »