"Visiting card" of Egypt is the pyramids. There are about hundreds of them - large and small, with smooth and stepped sides that have survived virtually unchanged and more look like a shapeless heap of stones. They are located along the West Bank of the Nile in small groups near the place, where in the era of the Old Kingdom was the capital of the country - Memphis. The most famous of the pyramids are on the outskirts of Cairo, on the edge of the desert plateau of Giza, looming over the green valley of the Nile. Here at Giza, there are three great pyramids, built by three kings Cheops, Chephren and Menkaure. Moreover, the famous spinx at Giza was restored by Tuthomis IV (Bunson 1991). Egyptian architecture succeeds at making a concealed riddle and makes the viewer trust that there is something covered up in matter. Many modern buildings and cities have tried to project a sense of mystery by copying the architecture of ancient Egypt despite the fact that this sense of mystery was not intended by the Egyptian themselves. The paper first looks at the pyramids from their historical and architectural aspects, and later looks at how Egyptian art and architecture is being used in modern city architecture, taking the example of The Luxor Hotel and Casino complex in Las Vegas. What it evaluates is the application of Egyptian style of architecture has succeeded in adding a deeper to those buildings just like those of ancient Egypt.
In ancient times, the pyramids of Giza were considered one of the seven "wonders of the world" (Levy 2007). In any case, today, they are still able to impress anyone. The largest of them is the pyramid of Cheops, built in honor to the second Pharaoh of the fourth dynasty. It was the name of the rulers of Egypt, derived from the word pero or pera’a, which designated the royal residence. The term became associated with the ruler and was eventually used in cartouches and royal decrees. The roles of these rulers, along with their specific titles, evolved slowly after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt c. 3000 B.C.E.(Bunson 1991).
This pyramid still remains the greatest architectural work of human hands. At the base, it is a square with a side of 227.5 meters. During construction, height was 146.6 meters, and now the pyramid is 9 meters below - the upper stones fell during the earthquake (Trumpp 2014). For the construction of a pyramid (and it was completed around 2590 BC) 2.3 million stone blocks weighing two and a half tons, each was used. The total volume of the pyramid is 2.34 million cubic meters. The individual blocks, according to the Arab historian Abdul Latif (XII century), is so exactly fitted to each other that a knife blade cannot be stick between them (Dunn 2002).
The construction of the pyramid was carried out under the guidance of renowned architect of Chefren for 20 years. According to ancient sources, the peasants, free from field work time during the flooding of the Nile, were involved in its construction only three months out of the year (Rodriguez 2007). But this does not preclude the work of a small number of professionals who prepared the scope of work for thousands of seasonal builders-farmers. The great Pyramid was built of granite covered with limestone. The outer surface was smooth and non-separable, which gave the pyramid type of structure like it was lowered from heaven. But the white facing stones were looted, and now to the apex, which is missing the center stone, can be reached by climbing up through the layers of rocks like steps. To start with who educated the world regarding the pyramids, was the "father of history" - Herodotus. He visited Egypt, 2000 years after the alleged construction of the pyramids, in the fifth century before Christ (Wheeler 1852). Inside of the great pyramid, there are no inscriptions or decorations. There are three burial chambers. The burial chamber of the Pharaoh is a room with a length of about 11 meters, a width of five meters and a height of almost six meters. The walls of the tomb are finished in granite slabs. The sarcophagus of red granite is empty. Neither the mummy nor funerary utensils were found. It is assumed that the pyramid was plundered in ancient times. On the South side of the pyramid, there is a modern museum that protects the wooden boat. This is a so-called Solar boat - one of five on which Cheops had to go to the underworld. In 1954, a 43.6 m boat dismantled into 1224 pieces was found during excavations.
The second largest pyramid in Giza belongs to Pharaoh Chephren. It was built 40 years later than the first. Sometimes it seems that the pyramid is even bigger than the Cheops. Actually, it's a little smaller. The side of the square base of the pyramid of Chefren is 215 meters. Height - 136 meters. However, in ancient times, like the pyramid of Cheops, it was 9 meters higher. The tilt angle is sharper than the first pyramid (Bunson 1991). Before the temple, there was a pier where boats floating on the canal from the Nile moored. The four Sphinxes guarded two entrances to the temple. In the middle of it there probably was the statue of the Pharaoh. From both entrances, there were the narrow corridors that led to sixteen monolithic columns of granite. In this room, having the shape of an inverted letter T, twenty-three seated statues of the Pharaoh, made of alabaster, slate and diorite were standing. There is the shading session of polished red granite, contrasting with the alabaster slabs of the floor, as well as the effects of light and shade in hypostyle. This room, now without cover, was covered originally with a small hole in the ceiling through which light shore separately on each statue. It completes the ensemble of the great pyramids of Giza the pyramid of Menkaure. Its construction was completed in 2505 BC. This pyramid is significantly smaller than its predecessors. The side of the base is 108 meters, the initial height of 66.5 m (today - 62 m), the angle is 51 degrees. Interestingly, the largest size blocks were used for the construction of this smallest of the three pyramids. The lower part of the tomb was lined with granite, in most cases not polished, and its top is a white limestone from Tura. In 1837, British explorers Perring and Visa found the magnificent Royal sarcophagus of basalt in the burial chamber of the pyramid, the walls of which were decorated like the facade of the Palace. This sarcophagus was drowned during its transportation to England; preserved, however, its picture. Menkaure was not only the smallest pyramid but also the least monumental funerary complex in comparison with ensembles of his predecessors.
No doubt that during the life of this Pharaoh it was not built yet. It was completed by his successor Shepseskaf, using worse quality building material. The walls were built with limestone blocks that were lined with brick-and covered with a white vinegar solution (Rigano). On the south of the third pyramid, there are three associated with it small pyramids, surrounded by a common wall. The footprint of each of them is equal to 1/3 the area of the base of the pyramid of Menkaure. It is considered that these pyramids were for the wife of Pharaoh. In one of the premises associated with the pyramid of Menkaure, during excavations, the American archeologist Reisner discovered four sculptural groups from greywacke, now called the triads of Menkaures. Three of them are now in Cairo, one in Boston (Michałowski 2007). The pyramid of Menkaure emphasizes the greatness of the pyramids of Cheops and Chephren. Last is easy to distinguish from others: the pyramid of Khafre near the top of the partially preserved white magma veneer.
After years of research, scientists have shown how pyramids were created. The stone blocks were cut down in the mountain of Mokattam on the other side of the Nile. Ancient quarries are clearly visible even now. Then, they were taken to the courts in Giza, specially dug for this channel. Recently, archeologists have found berth near the pyramids. The blocks were dragged to the pyramid by sloping earthen mounds. The great pyramids are part of the vast necropolis of Giza. Beside them, there are several small pyramids, where the wives of pharaohs are buried, the tombs of the priests and government officials. At the foot of the Giza plateau, there are funerary temples and the Great Sphinx. Each of the great pyramids had a triune complex: the lower funerary temple-way-top funerary temple. However, this complex is in a more or less complete form only at the pyramid of Chephren nowadays. The cobbled road from the lower temple, where the embalming was carried out, to the top, where Pharaoh was buried, stretches over half a kilometer. Near the bottom of the granite temple, deprived of the roof, lie the ruins of the temple of the Sphinx. And behind them, if to look at the East, there is the ancient guardian of the pyramids - the Great Sphinx. The Sphinx is resting lion with a human head (Mamluk soldiers blew his nose), is the largest monolithic sculpture. Its length is 73 meters, height - 20 meters. It is believed that the Sphinx was carved during the construction of the pyramid of Khafre, and his face bears the features of this Pharaoh.
Every night, at the foot of the pyramid, a colorful light and music show is hosted. Enjoying magnificent spectacle, viewers hear the fascinating story of Ancient Egypt, the history of the construction of the pyramids. About 30 kilometers South of Giza, there is another famous necropolis, Saqqara. There are dozens of relatively small tombs, pyramids, and temples. But this place is famous because of the pyramid of Djoser. A six-step tomb of Djoser is the oldest Egyptian pyramid. This was not a classic pyramid; in essence, it was a combination of several tombs-mastabas. Mastaba - a rectangular structure with sloping walls and a flat top. It resembles the shape of a bench, in Arabic - "mastaba", which now can be found in the peasant dwellings. Djoser, the first Pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty, who lived 4700 years ago, commissioned the construction of a pyramid to architect Imhotep, who created the amazing simplicity and grandeur of the building - he put six mastabas one on another, decreasing upwards (Berney 1996). This pyramid, called by scientists "the mother of the pyramids," is the world's first Grand structure of stone (area of base 160 x 120 m, height 60 m). The main rooms of the tomb were under the mastaba. It was a series of chambers carved in the rocky soil. One of them was a sarcophagus with a mummy and the things needed on the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians, to continue life in the afterlife. Now there is an exact copy of a small statue of Djoser. The real statue is in the Egyptian Museum.
Saqqara is the necropolis of the first capital of the United by Pharaoh Menes of Egypt - Memphis. Unfortunately, from a big bustling city that flourished for three millennia, almost nothing left. With the founding of Alexandria, Memphis began to decline. As a result of last century, 20-meter statue of Ramses II and a relatively small alabaster of Sphinx were also discovered. The pyramids are probably the most famous architectural structures in the world. And the goal was achieved - the pyramids are eternal monuments, having survived the millennium. They had such great influence that modern day architectures often borrow ideas from ancient Egyptian architectures, although modern architects and investors often misinterpret Egyptian architecture by making a correlation with mystery & treasure.
The Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, is named after the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes). The casino complex is a recreation of several elements from the historical Luxor. The historical accuracy of the Luxor Hotel and Casino complex has been rightly criticized. In other words, the Luxor in Las Vegas projects that it contains some deeper meaning, that there is a secret hidden just inside.
Before inspecting the level of precision achieved by the Las Vegas casino when compared to the historical city of Luxor, it will be profitable to further prove, and clarify why precisely catching the picture and the visual talk message of the genuine Luxor by the Las Vegas amusement is more essential. In their groundbreaking study of Post-Modernist architecture, Learning from Las Vegas, Robert Venturi, and his fellow authors analyze the style and design, in other words, the appearance, of the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. Casino in Las Vegas, they argue, "is architecture of communication over space; communication dominates space as an element in the architecture and in the landscape"(Venturi, Brown, & Izenour 1977). In other words, what they seem to be saying is that the form is more important than the content, that the message of the appearance is more important than the accuracy of the appearance.
This is especially true of the Luxor Casino Hotel. Viewed from the outside, there is little advertising that gambling is going on inside the structure. There are no images of dice or cards or dollar signs, as was common in the older casinos of Las Vegas. However, the outside of the Luxor structure, the replica itself, regardless of the fact it is not historically accurate, according to the concept of the visual rhetoric, and the architecture of persuasion does convey to viewers that there is some sort of priceless treasures inside. Even though the average tourist or viewer could not differentiate one real pyramid from another, they know that the real pyramids were tombs for Egyptian Pharaohs. And what was expected to be stored in these tombs? There should have been stored a seemingly bottomless treasure of incalculable wealth; a real life jackpot. Nearly every non-scholarly or popular article or source on a pyramid is about the treasure inside the pyramid. Even though no real pyramid was black and made of glass with a super powerful spotlight at the top of it, the Luxor glass pyramid conveys the same visual image to the American audience as does the real pyramid in Egypt. Giant piles of treasure are just waiting for an adventurous person to go inside the pyramid, claim it and carry it away. And this is exactly the message that the casino operators wanted people to receive.
Overall, The Luxor Hotel and Casino complex in Las Vegas is not an accurate replica or recreation of the actual Luxor complex in Egypt. However, the Las Vegas Luxor does capture the visual rhetoric of popular culture of Egyptian architecture and tries to convey the message to viewers that the pyramids in ancient Egypt, in physical Egypt, is no difference to what they can see. The design of the Luxor Las Vegas is part of the postmodern movement in architecture, part of which promises to bring the experience of foreign lands to the 'traveler' so the traveler does not need to travel to the foreign land.
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