|Sunday, 7 November 2004|
Great wonder of the ancient world
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt are the only existing wonder among the Seven Great Wonders of the ancient world as named by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The other six wonders, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Mausolium at Helicarnussus (present day Turkey), Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Colossus at Rhodes Island, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece and Pharaohs Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt have all been destroyed over the years.
The Pyramids of Giza are located along the banks of the river Nile in an area known as the Valley of the Dead.
The Valley of the Dead has been so named due to the pyramids numbering more than 80 which are the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings.
The biggest of these are the pyramids enshrining the mummified bodies of the kings Mycerinus, Chephren and Cheops of the Pharaoh dynasty in Giza. Some believe them to be the tombs of the Kings Caphreh, Menkhor and Cheops.
The three pyramids are about 65 metres, 142 metres and 146 metres tall respectively. Although some say the Pyramids are more than 10,000 years old, the generally accepted belief is that they are about 5,000 years old.
The biggest of the three Pyramids is the tomb of King Cheops and his queen. Its base is about 230-metres long while its square area is about five hectares. Inside is a maze of tunnels which lead to the central chamber housing the bodies.
Over 2.3 million cube-like bricks, each weighing 2.27 metric tonnes, had been used in the construction of this pyramid. The transportation of these bricks to the top of the structure during construction is one of the amazing feats of history.
It is believed that about 300 cubes were transported to the building site everyday via rafts over the Nile river. Over 100,000 builders are said to have worked for more than 20 years to complete construction. Although the lines separating each cube are clearly visible now, it is believed that the walls were smoothly plastered at one time. It is also believed that the tips of the Pyramids were aligned with star constellations like the Orion and Sirius.
The Pyramids of Giza remained a mystery for humans for many years. On February 17, 1923, Lord Carnarvon and archaeologist Howard Carter of Briton entered the tomb of the child king Tutankhamen through the tunnels of the Pyramid. In 1954, the archaeologist Kamal Al Malak who entered a part of King Cheop's tomb found the disassembled parts of a cedar wood boat. He reassembled it and displayed the boat at a nearby museum.
Yet another archaeologist named Farouk Al Bas entered a scanning device through a crack in the Pyramid's wall and discovered the parts of another boat made of cedar wood. The ancient Egyptians mummified the bodies of their kings so that they will be well preserved for their next life.
The cedar wood boats were meant to be the vessels taking them to this next life. Other precious items like gold, silver and gems were also stored in these burial chambers to "help the kings in their next lives".
As a result of experiments conducted on some of these bodies, scientists had discovered the mummys' age, cause of death and the various diseases they had suffered from. Scientists who examined skin samples from the body of King Ramses II had discovered that he had died of smallpox.Some of the mummies and the valuables xtracted from these pyramids are now on display at museums in Giza.
A fitting memorial for our soldiers
Have you travelled past the Public Library in Colombo and wondered what the tall stone pillar next to the building at the Vihara Maha Devi Park is? This pillar, the Cenotaph War Memorial, will be much in the limelight today as this is where the main Remembrance Day celebrations for Sri Lanka's war heroes are held every year in November.
This stone pillar was built by the British as a tribute to the armed forces personnel of the Commonwealth countries who made the supreme sacrifice during the first and second World Wars.
Sri Lanka was then under British colonial rule and many of our countrymen had been serving in the local and British regiments.
Now it stands as a memorial to all Lankan servicemen who sacrificed their lives to preserve the country's unitary status.
It is built on the lines of the Cenotaph, a large war memorial in Whitehall, London in the United Kingdom, which is also a tribute to Britain's heroes of the First and Second World Wars.
The local Cenotaph was originally constructed at the Galle Face Green from where it was later shifted to the Vihara Maha Devi Park, which was then known as Victoria Park. Sri Lankans who died in the war have their names etched in stone on the Cenotaph. War veterans and their families, ex-service personnel and those presently serving in the Forces gather at the Memorial on Remembrance Day to lay poppy wreaths in honour of their colleagues who died in the war.
Although many other memorials have come up to remember Sri Lanka's war heroes, such as the Remembrance Park at Mailapitiya near Kandy, the memorial at the Ratmalana Air Force base and the memorial at the Trincomalee Naval base, the Cenotaph continues to be the main memorial for Sri Lanka's war dead.
Produced by Lake House