> cladking Wrote:
> > ... In our terms the pyramid was a mnemonic to
> remember the dead king or a cenotaph.
> That's one mother of a mnemonic. Why wouldn't
> something the size of an obelisk, or Sphinx, or a
> smaller "satellite" pyramid suffice? After all,
> there are plenty of far smaller stone monuments
> that have essentially retained their dignity over
> the millennia, no?
There's no simple answer to your quite legitimate observation.
But two things. First off it's not as big as it seems because people didn't make it, the gods did. From their perspective the gods did all the heavy lifting. From ours natural processes provided the motive force that allowed people to sit back and enjoy pyramid building.
Second is that it was much more than merely a mnemonic. It was the culmination of 40,000 years of stone technology as expressed in terms of early bronze age technology. They were a place to carry out scientific observation and try new technology like the "min". The little third dynasty pyramids had proven useful as mnemonics to remind sailors of important landmarks in the Nile so they merely extrapolated the concept to serve to remember the king.
But they were also time capsules and centers of industry. While the pyramids themselves might never have performed a motive function the aprons on which they sat certainly did. Almost everything needed to build great pyramids was already on site so building them, with most of the work being done in flood season (High Nile), was almost an afterthought.
They unified the country in many ways and served as impressive monuments to their greatness and the greatness of thot. Ancient people simply cared a great deal more about the past and future than modern people and this shows up all through their rituals. They did not want to be forgotten and they didn't want us to live without understanding our past.