Pyramids of Egypt
General || Structure
The Pyramids of Egypt, built at Giza during
the 4th Dynasty (circa 2680-c. 2544 BC) are the oldest of the
seven wonders and the only ones remaining intact today (see Pyramids).
Great Pyramid of Khufu (circa 2600 BC) was the greatest of the
Egyptian pyramids, which served as burial places of the pharaohs,
particularly during the Old Kingdom. Some lists included all of
the pyramids and the Sphinx as well.
The great pyramids
of Giza were built around 2700-2500 BC as tombs for the pharoahs
(rulers of ancient Egypt, who held the status of gods on earth).
The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops to the Greeks) is the largest,pictured
here in the center of the photograph, it covers 13 acres. It was
constructed of around 2.3 million stones and each of the stones
weigh from 2 to 30 tons each.
Except for parts of
the Mausoleum and of the temple of Artemis, they are the only
one of the seven ancient wonders still standing. Of the seven
wonders of the ancientworld, only the pyramids of Egypt have survived
in a form that resembles their originalcondition. The largest
of the three, known as the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was made up
of approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone each weighing an
average of 2.5 tons.Located in Giza on the west bank of the Nile
River, near Cairo, the pyramids remainone of the engineering marvels
of all time.
The granite slab that
is the roof of Khufu's burial chamber weighs 50 tons in itself.
Khufu's pyramid stands about 450 feet (137 meters) high. It is
also in almost complete form, despite being the Worlds oldest
Wonder. The pyramid of King Chephren is behind Khufu's and the
pyramid of King Mycerinus is in front. The three smaller pyramids
in the front were built for King Mycerinus three wives.
These monumental pyramids
are precisely oriented to the four cardinal points. Today the
city of Cairo reaches almost to the foot of the pyramids, but
when the pyramids were built, they were in the middle of the desert.
The Great Pyramids of Giza still have a strong impact on humanity.
The impact is best summed up in this ancient Arab proverb: "Man
fears Time, yet Time fears the pyramid."
Of the three Great Egyptian pyramids,
only the Great Pyramid of
Khufu (Cheops) tops of the list of Wonders. It was built by the
Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year 2560
BC to serve as a tomb after his death. The tradition of pyramid
building started in Ancient Egypt as a sophistication of the idea
of a mastaba or "platform" covering the royal tomb. Later,
several stacked mastabas were used. Early pyramids, such
as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (Djoser) at Saqqara by the famous
Egyptian architect, Imhotep, illustrate this connection.
The great pyramid
is believed to have been built over a period 20 year. The site
was first prepared, and blocks of stone were transported and placed.
An outer casing (which disappeared over the years) was then used
to smooth the surface. Although it is not known how the blocks
were put in place, several theories have been proposed. One theory
involves the construction of a straight or spiral ramp that was
raised as the construction proceeded. This ramp, coated with mud
and water, eased the displacement of the blocks which were pushed
(or pulled) into place. A second theory suggests that the blocks
were placed using long levers with a short angled foot.
Throughout their history, the pyramids of Giza
have stimulated human imagination. They were referred to as "The
Granaries of Joseph" and "The Mountains of Pharaoh". When Napoleon
invaded Egypt in 1798, his pride was expressed through his famous
quote: "Soldats! Du haut de ces Pyramides, 40 siθcles nous contemplent".
(meaning: Soldiers! From the top of these Pyramids, 40 centuries
are looking at us)
As on date, the
Great Pyramid is enclosed in the tourist region of the Giza Plateau,
along with the other pyramids and the Sphinx. Also in the area
is the museum housing the mysterious Sun Boat, only discovered
in 1954 near the south side of the pyramid. The boat is believed
to have been used to carry the body of Khufu in his last journey
on earth before being buried inside the pyramid. It may also serve
him as a means of transportation in his afterlife journey according
to Ancient Egyptian beliefs.
Great Pyramid was 145.75 m (481 ft) high when it was built. Over
the years, it lost 10 m (30 ft) off its top. It ranked as the
tallest structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries, only to
be surpassed in height in the nineteenth century AD. It is made
composed of 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each averaging 2 1/2 tons
in weight. Despite the makers' limited surveying tools no side
is more than 8 inches different in length than another, and the
whole structure is perfectly oriented to the points of the compass.
Until the 19th
century it was the tallest building in the world and, at the age
of 4,500 years, it is the only one of the famous "Seven Wonders
of the Ancient World" that still stands. It is the Great Pyramid
of Khufu, at Giza, Egypt. It was covered with a casing of stones
to smooth its surface (some of the casing can still be seen near
the top of Khefre's pyramid). The sloping angle of its sides is
51 degrees and 51 minutes.
Each side is carefully
oriented with one of the cardinal points of the compass, that
is, north, south, east, and west. The horizontal cross section
of the pyramid is square at any level, with each side measuring
229 m (751 ft) in length. The maximum error between side lengths
is astonishingly less than 0.1%. On the north face, is the pyramid's
entrance. A number of corridors, galleries, and escape shafts
either lead to the King's burial chamber, or were intended to
serve other functions.
The King's chamber
is located at the heart of the pyramid, only accessible through
the Great Gallery and an ascending corridor. The King's sarcophagus
is made of red granite, as are the interior walls of the King's
Chamber. Most impressive is the sharp-edged stone over the doorway
which is over 3 m (10 ft) long, 2.4 m (8 feet) high and 1.3 m
(4 ft) thick. All of the interior stones fit so well, a card won't
fit between them. The sarcophagus is oriented in accordance with
the compass directions, and is only about 1 cm smaller in dimensions
than the chamber entrance. It might have been introduced as the
structure was progressing.