Form and Content

Against an outline of Egyptian dynastic history and an analysis of ancient Egyptian religion, I. E. S. Edwards, who once served as the keeper of Egyptian antiquities at the British Museum in London, traces the evolution of the royal tomb from the simple burial mound through the subsequent mastaba (bench), the step pyramid, and the familiar true pyramid, only found in Egypt. All of these are funerary monuments with wider religious and spiritual significance.

For those not conversant with pyramid complexes, Edwards describes the solid pile of stones, square in plan and with triangular sides, directly facing the points of the compass, sloping at varying angles of about fifty degrees, and meeting at the apex. By far the longest chapter of the eight in the book is devoted to the Giza group of pyramids, the largest and finest of their kind. A general description, often with illustrations, is offered of the buildings adjacent to the pyramid, which frequently include a chapel for the performance of religious rites as well as the smaller pyramids of the most important wives, lesser kin, and notables.

Historic, artistic, and religious presentations of pyramids defined by date, sites, size, and other details follow. The final chapter of The Pyramids of Egypt speculates on the probable methods of construction and on the purpose of the pyramids. The author covers the problems connected with the exact orientation of a pyramid on the four...

(The entire section is 402 words.)