stone interiors

Granite in Ancient Egypt

Historically, granite has been the material of choice for embellishing architectural details and honoring great leaders. The many stone monuments, sculptures, and structures of ancient Egypt include some of history’s earliest instances of granite used in art and architecture. Although limestone was generally the building material of choice in ancient Egypt, granite was sometimes used for applications of a more luxurious nature. During the 26th century BC, granite was used in the massive tombs of ancient pharaohs, particularly in the tomb of Menkaure.

In Giza, along with the Great Pyramids, sits a 204 foot tall pyramid built for the purpose of entombing the pharaoh Menkaure, ruler of Egypt during the Fourth Dynasty (roughly around 2530 BC). When originally constructed, the pyramid was 215 feet tall, later being dwarfed by the pyramid of Khufu, which currently stands at 455 feet. Pyramid construction methods were still being developed during the building period of Menkaure's tomb. This is evidenced in the shape of the Bent pyramid, which was constructed with a narrower angle near the peak of the structure. The unique shape was probably implemented in the face of structural integrity concerns.

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The pyramids, as you might expect, were constructed in layers called “courses”. The first 16 courses of Menkaure’s tomb are lined with blocks of granite. In addition, the same granite covers some of the floors and walls of the inner chamber of the tomb. The blocks of granite were imported from Aswan, where several quarries line the Nile river. Aswan granite has a red color and was used in numberous sculptures in ancient Egypt.

Though we mostly see it in our kitchens at bathrooms in the present day, granite, as you can see, has been used to construct some of the most expensive and meticulously crafted structures in all of history. In this case, granite’s reputation as a luxury material has lasted over 4500 years! Having proven its durability and enduring beauty, is there any question in your mind as to which material to use in your kitchen?

History · 18 July 2013


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