SCIENCE/LANGUAGE ARTS/ART The Pyramids

 OTHER MINI-LESSONS
 • Learning About Ancient Egypt • Hieroglyphs • The Pyramids • Gods and Goddesses • Mummies
A pyramid is a structure with triangular sides that rise to a peak from a square, rectangular, or triangular base. The largest and most famous pyramids were built as tombs for Egyptian pharaohs of the Old Kingdom (about 2664–2180 B.C.). About 80 pyramids survive from ancient Egypt. Most are found near the Nile River close to the ancient capital city, Memphis. The grandest pyramid of all is the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu. It rises about 40 stories high and its base covers an area the size of ten football fields. It was once thought that the pyramids were built by slaves; today most historians believe that field workers were drafted to work on the giant projects in the off-seasons. It was very difficult work. Anywhere from 20 to 50 people were needed to drag each stone into place. Building the great pyramid required over two million stones. The ancient Egyptian pyramids are truly an amazing accomplishment.

Pyramid Treasures — An Internet Search
Ask your students what they know about the pyramids. What items were found or believed to be inside the ancient Egyptian pyramids? Using the sites below, ask students to keep a running tally of items to be found inside a pyramid.

The Pyramid Shape
Examine the pyramid shape using the Exploring Geometric Solids Web site listed below. At this site, you can turn geometrical shapes, look at them from different angles, and add color to the sides. Let your students discover the way a pyramid is formed. What shapes are used? How many sides are there? Ask your students to work in groups to construct their own pyramids out of paper. Give them graph paper, manipulatives, construction paper, scissors, and tape. After they have used their own reasoning, you may want to give them a specific lesson on constructing the pyramid shape.

Building a Pyramid Today
Visit the Web site Mr. Pitonyak’s Pyramid Puzzle to explore how much it would cost to build a pyramid today. The Great Pyramid required as many as 30,000 workers to build. Encourage your students to consider the many costs involved in a building project and estimate how much it would cost today.

 USEFUL WEB SITES Nova Online Adventure: Pyramids www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pyramid/ Mr. Pitonyak's Pyramid Puzzle wcvt.com/~tiggr/ Ancient Egypt Pyramids and Temples www.eyelid.co.uk/pyr-temp.htm The Valley of the Kings interoz.com/egypt/kingtomb.htm Talking Walls www.esc20.net/etprojects/formats/webquests/fall99/gates/ The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/wonders/