For the ancient Egyptians, pharaohs were the physical embodiment of the gods Horus (god of sky, war and protection) and Osiris (god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead). When they died, it was important that they be protected, and pyramids were created accordingly.
When alive, the pharaoh represented Horus; post-mortem, he represented Osiris. It was believed that after death, he would set the sun while the new pharaoh would raise it. The pharaoh would have to be protected eternally so as not to cause a cosmic disturbance.
Inside the Pyramid
Inside, builders placed the items needed for habitation in the afterlife. These items were the pharaoh's most treasured possessions such as boats, food, clothing and luxury items. Large pyramids were needed to house massive treasures. The burial chamber was placed directly in the center of the pyramid.
Most importantly, these pyramids were built to protect the body of the departed pharaoh. An outer sarcophagus of stone shielded an internal one that housed the body of the freshly-prepared mummy. Once building was completed, a heavy stone was sealed over the entrance to prevent thievery.
As raiders discovered the treasures of the pyramids, they went about emptying them in secret. Once the pharaohs noticed this, they tried to find new ways to protect their mummies, such as the Valley of the Kings. However, the pyramids were still very important to the ancients as a way to protect their departed god-kings.
- pyramids image by christine dedman from Fotolia.com