History Embalmed

Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid have amazed people throughout the centuries. Who built the Great Pyramid? Why was it built? How was it built? What was the purpose of the Great Pyramid of Giza? What was inside the Great Pyramid of Giza? These are just some of the many questions which surround the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The Location of the Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid is located on the Giza Plateau, bordering the Sahara Desert, on the west bank of the Nile River, near modern-day Cairo. The Great pyramid was originally 481 feet high and 755 feet wide, dimensions which the damage of time have reduced to 454 feet and 750 feet respectively.

History - When was the Great Pyramid built? Who built the Great Pyramid at Giza? Khufu
The history of the pyramid and its construction was intermittent. The Golden Age of the Pyramids only lasted for about 100 years. The Golden Age of the Pyramids was when the great Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed. It was built during the historical period of the Old Kingdom (2686 BC - 2181 BC) and is attributed to the Pharaoh Khufu (Greek Cheops) 2589 - 2566 as the king who erected the Great Pyramid of Giza.

There are hieroglyphics inside the Great Pyramid that claim the pyramid was built by work gangs for the pharaoh Khufu. The Great Pyramid is accompanied by two other pyramids on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. They were built for three consecutive monarchs: Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure of the Fourth Egyptian Dynasty:

  • Khufu (Greek Cheops) 2589 - 2566 who erected the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Khafre aka Khafra, Shafra, Rakhaef, Chephren - 2558 - 2532
  • Menkaure aka Mycerinus, Mykerinos - 2532 - 2504

History - Why was Great Pyramid built?The Importance of the Sun
The true history of the pyramids have been lost over time. It is not certain exactly why the Great Pyramid was built but many Egyptologists believe that the reason for its construction was linked the religion and beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians. The early Egyptian priests evolved a creation myth, called the Cosmogony, to explain how some of their Gods came into being. The Sun God Ra (as Atum) was believed to have risen  from the primeval ocean to a conical-shaped mound of earth and then created the world. The Ancient Egyptians therefore revered the mound as an image of creation. The first rays of the sun fell on Sun God Ra (as Atum) marking the way to heaven by ascending the rays of the sun. The Great Pyramid consisting of mounds of masonry was a material representation of the rays of the sun. It is easy to imagine how Ancient Egyptian priests would see the association of the pyramid and the sun and how the structure could be a means whereby a dead king, such as the Pharaoh Khufu, could ascend to heaven.

The Great Pyramid and the Importance of the Stars - The Indestructibles
The sun lead the way to the heavens but where was the final destination?  The most important group of stars to the Ancient Egyptians were called the 'Indestructibles' (in the bowl of Ursa Minor & Ursa Major). The Indestructibles were the two bright stars that always could be seen circling the North Pole. These stars circled an unmoveable area which the Ancient Egyptians believed was heaven. The positioning of the Great Pyramid was of great importance as it was built to align north with a single, perfectly aligned vent, or shaft which was built into the internal structure of the Great Pyramid pointing directly to the area the Ancient Egyptians believed was heaven. The shaft led, at an angle, from the burial chamber to the outside. The soul of the Pharaoh Khufu was thus able to travel from the burial chamber in the Great Pyramid, up the shaft, on the path to heaven. The Pyramids were therefore believed to be Resurrection machines - a 'Stargate' leading to heaven and eternal life.

The Great Pyramid - Seven Wonders of the World
The "Great Pyramid" was one of the Seven Wonders of the World - and it is the only one that still exists. We will put all those out of their misery who are trying to remember the other Seven Wonders of the World! List of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is as follows:

  • Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • Temple of Diana at Ephesus
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Construction of the Great Pyramid
Of the Seven Wonders of the World the Great Pyramid of Giza is possibly the greatest of them all. It presents many other marvels besides its longevity and size. First, there is the massiveness of the stone blocks of which it is composed. The basement stones are in many cases 30 long by 5 feet high, and 4 or 5 wide: they must contain from 600 - 750 cubic feet each, and weigh from 46 to 57 tons. The granite blocks which roof over the upper sepulchral chamber are nearly 19 feet long, by two broad and from 3 to 4 deep. The relieving stones above the same chamber, and those of the entrance passage, are almost equally massive. Generally the external blocks are of a size with which modern builders scarcely ever venture to deal, though the massiveness diminishes as the pyramid is ascended. The bulk of the interior is, however, of comparatively small stones but even these are carefully hewn and squared, so as to fit together perfectly.

Building the Great Pyramid of Giza
Building the Ancient Egyptian Great Pyramid was a complicated and time consuming task and took over 20 years to build. Various stages had to be completed:

  • Marking out was stage 1 of building the Great Pyramid of Giza - Marking out the ground involved complex mathematics. Precise calculations was required to set out the corner blocks, the angle of the sloping sides, the height and the dead center of the Great Pyramid
  • Selecting and locating the stoneswas stage 2 of building the Great Pyramid of Giza
    • Pink granite stone came from Aswan
    • Limestone came from Tura
  • Transporting the stones was stage 3 of building the Great Pyramid of Giza - Transport to Giza was by ships or barges
  • Specially constructed man-made canals and landing stages was used for transporting the materials and was finally delivered to the building site at Giza by sledge. Archaeologists have found evidence of such a canal at Giza
  • Cutting the stones was stage 4 of building the Great Pyramid of Giza - The Ancient Egyptians used bronze and copper tools to hand cut the stones. Another method was to make small holes in a block of wood, along the line of stone to be cut. Wooden wedges was forced into the holes and water was then poured over the dry wood  which then expanded and cracked the stone along the line. Pounding stones of dolerite was also used
  • Constructionwas stage 5 of building Great Pyramid of Giza:
    • Stones was placed over the base
    • Side blocks was laid meeting each of the corner stones
    • The next course was then placed on the first - with up to 200 courses
    • A single capping stone was placed on the top

The Surface Area of the Great Pyramid
The surface area of the Great Pyramid ensured that this massive monuments was truly awe-inspiring. The Surface Workwas stage 6 of building the Great Pyramid of Giza:

  • Massive triangular shaped facing blocks of polished limestone were cut
  • The gleaming white facing blocks was added to each course
  • The fitting was dead accurate as no cement was used to fix the facing blocks
  • A magnificent capping stone was placed on the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza which was coated with gold

Building Techniques and Methods
No one is certain of the exact building techniques used by the Ancient Egyptians to build the Great Pyramid of Giza. How did they move and lay the great monoliths, some of which weighed nearly 3 tons? The massive stones, or monoliths, were transported by ships along the Nile and then via the man made canals to the building site of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The following are theories regarding the building techniques which might have been used in the construction of the Great Pyramid:

  • A mud ramp was built and stones was dragged up it
  • A series of ramps was built from step to step
  • Teams of workers levered the stones up the courses
  • It has also been suggested that the Ancient Egyptians might have moved the stones with wind power, relying on kites and pulleys rather than huge numbers of people

What is inside the Great Pyramid?
What is inside the Great Pyramid of Giza? The purpose of the Great Pyramid was to create a monumental tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu (Greek Cheops). Inside the Great pyramid was tomb chambers, ante-rooms and chambers, ventilation shafts and access tunnels. The "Great Pyramid" guards three chambers:

  • One lies deep in the rock, about 120 feet beneath the natural surface of the ground, and is placed almost directly below the apex of the structure. It measures 46 feet by 27, and is 11 feet high. The access to it is by a long and narrow passage which commences in the north side of the pyramid, about 70 feet above the original base, and descends for 40 yards through the masonry, and then for 70 more in the same line through the solid rock, when it changes its direction, becoming horizontal for 9 yards, and so entering the chamber itself.
  • The two other chambers are reached by an ascending passage, which branches off from the descending one at the distance of about 30 yards from the entrance, and mounts up through the heart of the pyramid for rather more than 40 yards, when it divides into two
  • A low horizontal gallery, 110 feet long, leads to a chamber which has been called, for no good reason, "the Queen's Chamber" - a room about nineteen feet long by seventeen broad, roofed in with sloping blocks, and having a height of twenty feet in the centre
  • Another longer and much loftier gallery continues on for 150 feet in the line of the ascending passage, and is then connected by a short horizontal passage with the upper-most or "King's Chamber." Here was found a sarcophagus believed to be that of Pharaoh Khufu, since the name of Khufu was scrawled in more than one place on the chamber walls

Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza - The King's Chamber
The construction of th King's Chamber, the very kernel of the whole building, is quite remarkable. It is a room of 34 feet in length, with a width of 17 feet, and a height of 19, composed wholly of granite blocks of great size, beautifully polished, and fitted together with great care. The construction of the roof is particularly admirable. First, the chamber is covered in with nine huge blocks, each nearly nineteen feet long and four feet wide, which are laid side by side upon the walls so as to form a complete ceiling. Then above these blocks is a low chamber similarly covered in, and this is repeated four times; after which there is a fifth opening, triangular, and roofed in by a set of huge sloping blocks, which meet at the apex and support each other. The object is to relieve the chamber from any weight, and prevent it from being crushed in by the mass of material above it. The entire chamber, with its elaborate roof, remains intact, without crack or settlement of any kind.

Great Pyramid
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