Architecture

Facts about Great Pyramid of Giza

23 Great Pyramid of Giza facts

Pyramid of Khufu

It was built by the sweat of a hundred (or three hundred and twenty) thousand workers, an unimaginable engineering and logistical task. Granite blocks weighing 80 tons used for some of the structural elements of the Great Pyramid were transported over 800 kilometers by the Nile.
1
The Great Pyramid was built around 2560 BC.
It was intended as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) dating back to the 4th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom.
2
It is located in Egypt on a plateau in Giza. It is part of the Memphis necropolis.
Memphis was an ancient Egyptian city located in the Nile delta on its western bank. It was the capital of the Old Kingdom.
3
It is also referred to as the "Pyramid of Khufu" and the "Pyramid of Cheops".
4
It took about 20 years to build the Great Pyramid of Giza.
According to ancient historians like Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo.
5
The pyramid is built with about 2.3 million limestone blocks, most of which weigh 2.5 tons.
The technological processes used during construction has not been explained to this day. According to calculations, to build the Pyramid of Khufu workers used:
  • 5,5 million tons of limestone,
  • 8 thousand tons of Aswan granite,
  • 500 thousand tons of mortar
6
Total mass of the pyramid is approximately 6 million tons.
The side walls of the pyramid are inclined at an angle of 51° 52′.
7
It is believed that the architect of the pyramid of Cheops was Hemiunu.
Hemiunu was Cheops' nephew and also his vizier (the highest official in the court of the pharaoh). His name Egyptologists translate as great and wise.

His tomb is located in the vicinity of the Great Pyramid.
8
The Great Gallery, a corridor 8.53 m high and 46.63 m long, led to the King's Chamber.
At the entrance to the Great Gallery there is a horizontal shaft leading to the descending corridor and a passage to the Queen's Chamber. This passage is 1.1 m high and only before the chamber itself it rises to 1.73 m.
9
The chambers inside the pyramid of Cheops are covered with blocks of granite that weigh up to 80 tons.
10
The pyramid was clad mostly with the no longer extant Tura limestone, which gave it a bright and shimmering hue.
A powerful earthquake in 1303 loosened and knocked down many of the cladding stones, which were then transported by order of the Mameluke sultan An-Nasir Nasir-ad-Din al-Hasan to Cairo in 1356, where they were used to build structures within the city.

The facing stones were also largely looted in the early 19th century on the orders of Kedah Muhammad Ali and used in the construction of the Muhammad Ali Mosque also known as the Alabaster Mosque.

The facing stones can be found incorporated into the walls of buildings throughout Cairo.
11
The red granite used to build the interior of the king's chamber came from Aswan, over 800 kilometers from Giza.
It is estimated that 8,000 tons of granite were transported to Giza by river.
12
It was built on previously leveled terrain with height differences of only 2.1 cm.
Remember, it was over 4500 years ago!
13
Originally, the great Pyramid was 146.59 m tall but due to the loss of the crowning stone called pyramidion and further erosion it decreased to 138.75 m.
It is not excluded that the pyramidion could have been gilded. The view of the complete pyramid in the sunlight must have been breathtaking.
14
Each side of the pyramid has a base length of 230 meters.
According to recent analyses, this length varies between 230.26 m and 230.44 m.
15
The entrance to the pyramid is located on the northern wall at a height of 17 meters.
From the entrance leads a descending corridor 105 m long. It leads to an unfinished chamber located under the pyramid at a depth of 27.5 m.
16
The pyramid has been described many times by ancient historians.
Around 450 BC. Herodotus went to Egypt, where he collected information about the Great Pyramid.

The knowledge he gained he wrote down in his work titled "The Histories". Herodotus describes the history of the tyrannical pharaoh Khufu, who led to the construction of the pyramid thanks to the work of 100 thousand slaves. At that time the Greeks believed that only cruel tyrants were able to build such magnificent buildings. According to his records, the construction took 20 years. He described the existence of mythical chambers under the building, an underground lake connected to the Nile through a channel and an island on the lake, where Cheops was buried.

The information Herodotus obtained most likely came from Egyptian lower priests and local residents. At the time of Herodotus' visit to Egypt, the pyramid had already stood for over 2000 years, so it is worth remembering that verbal transmissions must have contained a lot of inconsistent and not necessarily true information.
17
Another historian describing the history of the pyramid of Cheops was Diodorus Siculus.
He visited Egypt around 60 - 56 BC.  He distanced himself from the descriptions of Herodotus, whom he considered a creator of miraculous tales and myths. In his opinion, as many as 320 thousand workers were engaged in pyramid construction an it took them 20 years to accomplish the task. According to him, the facade of the pyramid bore inscriptions about "the amount of radishes, garlic, and onions that the workers ate while building the pyramid". This inscription was also mentioned by Herodotus.

At the time of Diodorus of Siculus' visit, the limestone facade of the pyramid was still in excellent condition.
18
Another famous ancient historian who described the pyramid was Strabo.
He visited Egypt around 25 BC a few years after it was conquered by Octavian Augustus. In his work entitled "Geographica" he suggests that "At a moderate height in one of the sides is a stone, which may be taken out; when that is removed, there is an oblique passage to the tomb."

His notes may suggest that the entrance to the pyramid may have been opened at that time.
19
In 820 the first time the Arabs dug inside the pyramid.
By the orders of the caliph Al-Ma'mun they excavated a new entrance to the object, digging under the original descending corridor. They reached the ascending corridor and the rooms connected with it.

During this period, legends began to appear about the incredible treasures hidden inside the pyramid, and Al-Ma'mun's finding of a vessel filled with thousands of coins. There may be a grain of truth in this story, because Al-Ma'mun may have been trying to relieve the frustration of the workers who dug corridor in the sweat of their brow to get inside the pyramid only to find it looted and therefore he planted the treasure himself.
20
The Royal Chamber is entirely covered with granite.
Its dimensions are 10.47 m east-west by 5.234 m north-south. The ceiling is 5.85 m high and consists of nine stone slabs with a total weight of 400 tons. 

The room contains only the sarcophagus, which, in contrast to the neatly finished walls of the chamber, is made carelessly. It is suspected that the original sarcophagus sank during transport from Aswan and another had to be made in a hurry. The sarcophagus must have been placed in the chamber before its completion because it is higher than the passage leading to it.
21
The Queen's Chamber is located centrally in the horizontal axis of the pyramid and located below the Great Gallery.
Its dimensions are 5.23 m in the east-west axis and 5.75 in the north-south axis. It is covered with a sloping roof, which is 6.23 m high at its highest point.

Inside the chamber a ball made of diorite, bronze tool and a piece of cedar wood dated to 3341-3094 BC were found.
22
According to the reports of Herodotus, the Great Pyramid, like other pyramids, was repeatedly plundered before the New Kingdom period existing from the sixteenth to the eleventh century BC.
23
Because of the extreme precision with which the structure was built, many pseudo-scientific myths have grown up around it.
Some attribute the construction of the pyramid to a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization.

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