For over 4,000 years, the pyramids of Giza have towered over the west bank of the Nile, south of Cairo, Egypt, spawning numerous theories about everything from their construction methods to their astrological connections. Here are 8 facts about the largest of them all, the Great Pyramid.
Facts About The Great Pyramid of Giza
9. The Earliest Pyramids In Egypt Were Built A Century Prior
The tombs for the kings of Egypt were built underground many years before Pharaoh Djoser built a pyramid at Saqqara, south of Giza, around 2630 BCE.
The tomb of Djoser is previous to the one of Sneferu, whose red pyramid was the first complete pyramid, built between 2613 and 2589 BCE.
8. The Great Pyramid Was Built Between 2560 And 2540 BCE
Shortly after Sneferu’s 341-foot-tall red pyramid was completed in Dahshur (his first pyramid at Maidum was abandoned and the second turned into the Bent’s pyramid), Khufu began work on the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The Great Pyramid, the largest of all the tombs built in the ancient world, is the centerpiece of a complex that includes tombs for the Khufu wives, a mortuary temple, a valley temple, water well, and a sidewalk.
7. The Great Pyramid Was Built For The Pharaoh Khufu
The second pharaoh of the 4th dynasty, Khufu, Hellenized as Cheops, was the son of Sneferu and Hetepheres I and probably ascended the throne at the age of 20.
Very little information was kept about Khufu, and the conflicting accounts of his reign were written centuries after his death, most notably in Herodotus’ Histories. The only acknowledged statue of him stands a mere three inches.
6. It Was The Tallest Man-made Structure
At 481 feet high, the Great Pyramid eclipsed all the structures already built until the completion of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311 CE. The cathedral topped out 525 feet before the collapse of its central tower in 1548.
5. About 2.3 Million Stone Blocks Were Used To Build The Pyramid
The quarry at Aswan, about 880 km deep, was the site of the stone used to make the huge blocks that make up the pyramid. Each block weighs about 2.5 tons, on average, and the pyramid is estimated at 6.5 million tons.
4. A Series Of Ramps Was Built To Build The Pyramid
Without concrete evidence, historians and academics theorized that a ramp system should be the method of lifting and maneuvering the massive granite blocks of the Great Pyramid.
Archaeological evidence in other parts of the pyramid indicates that linear ramps, stairs, and spirals were used to slowly bring stones hundreds of feet into the air.
Once there, historians believe that wooden and bronze levers were used to intricately place the stones.
3. Almost Everything In The Chambers Has Been Taken
Some reports claim that human remains were present in the King’s Chamber around the 9th century CE, but the constant looting left the interior sterile, except for Khufu’s red-granite sarcophagus.
Furthermore, the white limestone casing that covered the exterior was also taken and used by various rulers and kings in other construction projects.
2. Historians Believe That Skilled Workers Built The Pyramid
Long thought to have been the work of thousands of slaves, today experts believe that between 20,000 and 30,000 skilled workers, including bricklayers, engineers, architects, surveyors, builders, and other craftsmen, were recruited to build the Khufu Temple.
Egyptologists Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawaas theorize that a small team worked on the project year-round, while a larger collection of workers was summoned during the summer months when the Nile flooded the surrounding valley and integrated with the permanent labor force.
1. It Is Both The Oldest And The Only Remaining Ancient Wonder
Named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid is the only work that has survived modernity.
Archaeological evidence has been discovered indicating, such as the Great Pyramid, that some of the legendary structures (the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus) were real, while others (the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Colossus of Rhodes) is more difficult to verify and may be composites of legends, myths, and facts.