|It helps us to realize this progress when we know that the Great Pyramid
covers thirteen acres. It is a solid mass of masonry containing 2,300,000
blocks of limestone, each weighing on an average two and a half tons; that
is, each block is as heavy as a large wagonload of coal. The sides of the
pyramid at the base are 755 feet long,1
that is, about a block and three quarters (counting twelve city blocks
to a mile), and the building was nearly 500 feet high. An ancient story
tells us that a hundred thousand men were working on this royal tomb for
twenty years, and we can well believe it (Fig.
We perceive at once that it must have required a very skillful ruler and a great body of officials to manage and to feed a hundred thousand workmen around this great building. The king who controlled such vast undertakings was no longer a local chieftain (§ 50), but he now ruled a united Egypt, the earliest great unified nation, comprising several millions of people. The king was so reverenced that the people did not mention him by name, but instead they spoke of the palace in which he lived, that is, the "Great House," or, in Egyptian, "Pharaoh." He had his local officials collecting taxes all over Egypt (Fig. 40). It was also their business to try the law cases which arose, and every judge had before him the written law,2 which bade him judge justly.
The kingís huge central offices, occupying low, sun-baked-brick buildings, sheltered an army of clerks with their reed pens and their rolls of papyrus (Fig. 40), keeping the kingís records and accounts. The taxes received from the people here were not in money, for coined money did not yet exist. Payments were made in produceógrain, live stock, wine, honey, linen, and the like. With the exception of the cattle, these had to be stored in granaries and storehouses, a vast group of which formed the treasury of the king. [NEXT]
|73. The vast
size of the