THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT
To the ancient Egyptians, death was the greatest journey in a person’s life: indeed, most of their time was spent preparing for the passage into the Next World. This was especially true of the pharaohs, the rulers of the lands of the Nile, who were regarded not as kings but as the representatives of the gods on Earth. Tombs more splendid than the houses of the living were erected in the course of their 2,000-year history, with none more iconic than the pyramids, massive stone mounds built solely to contain the remains and earthly treasures of the pharaohs.
There are between 118-138 pyramids scattered throughout Egypt, with almost all of them being located on the west bank of the Nile, symbolically following the path of the setting sun, which, according to myths, led to the world of the dead. Of these, the three pyramids of Giza are the most recognisable, built for the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. Khufu’s pyramid, known as the Great Pyramid, contains three chambers, one for the pharaoh himself, another for his queen, and the Grand Gallery, which serves as a central passageway within the tomb. Curiously, there is an empty space directly beneath the Grand Gallery, referred to as the Big Void, which has no known function, since it is neither a storage area nor a burial chamber.
How exactly the pyramids were constructed remains a mystery, which only adds to the allure of the structures, as legends have grown up around them, from grave robbers’ exploits to resurrected mummies dwelling within the burial chambers. During his Egyptian campaign, Napoleon Bonaparte ventured inside the Great Pyramid, but he was reported to have emerged a shaken man. What could the future Emperor of France have discovered inside the mansion of the dead…?