Pyramids: The Real Story Behind Egypt’s Most Ancient Monuments, Viking/Penguin 2003.
The Old Kingdom pharaohs believed that death was the beginning of eternal life. That they would rise from their tombs to shimmer in the deep blue night as an unsetting star. Or that they would sail endlessly across the watery heavens in the shining boat of the sun god Re. To help them on their way they built pyramids: huge ramps or stairways charged with the most potent magic, leading directly to the sky. These massive monuments came to symbolize the might of a powerful nation ruled by a semi-divine god king.
The first pyramid, the step pyramid built for King Djoser, appeared very early in Egyptian history. But it did not spring out of a technological void. To understand the skills and beliefs of the earliest pyramid builders we must look backwards, to the period before Egypt was a united land. In this book the pyramids are set into their historical, even pre-historical, context. By tracing the pyramid building society back to its roots, we see not only how and why the Egyptians were able to build their pyramids, but how the pyramids helped to build Egypt herself.