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The Great Pyramid
of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid
of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis
bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the
Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. Egyptologists believe that the
pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in
Greek) over a 10 to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BCE. The Great Pyramid
was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years and there have
been varying scientific and alternative theories about the Great Pyramid's construction
Seven wonders
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the first known list of the most
remarkable creations of classical antiquity, and was based on guide-books popular
among Hellenic sight-seers and only includes works located around the Mediterranean
rim. The number seven was chosen because the Greeks believed it to be the
representation of perfection and plenty, and because it was the number of the five
planets known anciently plus the sun and moon.
The pyramids of Giza, are located in Giza, Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile river
near Cairo. The pyramid is located at the northern edge of the Giza plateau. It lies in
the desert west of Giza, next to the pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure (Khufu’s and
The name “Pyramid” comes from a Greek traveler named Herodotus of
Halicarnassus. He visited Egypt around 450 BC and included a description of the
Great Pyramid in a history book he wrote. Herodotus was told by his Egyptian guides
that it took twenty-years for a force of 100,000 oppressed slaves to build the pyramid.
It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh
Khufu and was constructed over a 20 year period. Khufu's vizier, Hemon, or
Hemiunu, is believed by some to be the architect of the Great Pyramid. It is thought
that, at construction, the Great Pyramid was originally 280 Egyptian cubits tall, 146.5
metres but with erosion and absence of its pyramidion, its present height is 138.8
metres. Each base side was 440 cubits, 230.4 metres long. The mass of the pyramid is
estimated at 5.9 million tonnes. The volume, including an internal hillock, is roughly
2,500,000 cubic metres. Based on these estimates, building this in 20 years would
involve installing approximately 800 tonnes of stone every day. Similarly, since it
consists of an estimated 2.3 million blocks, completing the building in 20 years would
involve moving an average of more than 12 of the blocks into place each hour, day
and night. The first precision measurements of the pyramid were made by
Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880–82 and published at The Pyramids and
Temples of Gizeh. Almost all reports are based on his measurements. Many of the
casing stones and inner chamber blocks of the Great Pyramid were fit together with
extremely high precision. Based on measurements taken on the north eastern casing
stones, the mean opening of the joints is only 0.5 millimetres wide (1/50th of an inch).
Right by The Great Pyramid of Giza lie three smaller pyramids which are believed to
hold the Pharaoh’s queens.
Much like most old
kingdom pyramids,
the inside of The
Great Pyramid of
Giza consists of
The entrance is on
the north face of the
pyramid and placed
entrance leads to a
descends 191 ft
pyramid into an
underground chamber. There is a passageway from this chamber that is wide enough
for only one man, but it leads to a dead end. On the east-west central axis of the
pyramid remains the Queens Chamber which was misnamed by early explorers. This
chamber was sealed off from the rest of the pyramid and is now believed to once be
the location of the king’s ka (spirit) statue. Connected to the descending passage,
there is an ascending passage as well. The ascending passage is only big enough to
crawl in (approx 1m high and 1m wide). This passage leads you to the Grand Gallery
which ultimately leads you to the Pharaoh’s Chamber. All that remains in the
Pharaoh’s Chamber today is Khufu sarcophagus. The room is built in red granite, and
it is believed that the pyramid was built around the sarcophagus. Also discovered
were airshafts in the pyramid. The four airshafts are believed to be “escape routes”
for the Pharaoh’s soul. Two of the airshaft point to Orion and the other two point
towards the polar stars. Originally the stones were encased in brilliant white polished
limestone which gave it a glittering appearance so much so that one Greek historian
named Diodorus Siculus who lived during the 1st century BC said :"The the immensity of the work and the skill of their construction strike those
who see them with wonder and awe."
The Great Pyramid was built during Khufu’s reign (2551 BC – 2528 BC) and
Hemiunu is believed to be the architect. Some believe that his pyramid at Giza was
built by slaves but this is not true. One hundred thousand people worked on it for
three months of each year. This was the time of the Nile's annual flood which made it
impossible to farm the land and most of the population was unemployed. He provided
good food and clothing for his workers and was kindly remembered in folk tales for
many centuries.
The Pyramids were commissioned by the Pharoah, but the Pyramids were built by the
people. With little tools or technology, the Egyptians were able to move heavy blocks
of stone as far as 500 mi as well as place the blocks on top of one another so that the
pyramid would reach 481ft tall. It is a mystery even today how the Egyptians
maneuvered these heavy blocks, but some theories have been drawn. Many believe
that the stones were carried using wooden sleds, levers and papyrus twine to the
pyramid using ramps. The gradual ramps were made of mud, stone and wood. The
ramps were used to move the blocks not only to the pyramid but around and up it as
well. The Nile River was also used in transporting materials and equipment. Over
100,000 laborers worked on the project. The people that built the pyramid were
skilled and well-fed builders who lived in nearby cities. Help from many communities
across Egypt most likely occurred to create the pyramid
The Great Pyramid consists of an estimated 2.3 million limestone blocks with most
believed to have been transported from nearby quarries. The Tura limestone used for
the casing was quarried across the river. The largest granite stones in the pyramid,
found in the "King's" chamber, weigh 25 to 80 tonnes and were transported from
Aswan, more than 500 miles away. Traditionally, ancient Egyptians cut stone blocks
by hammering wooden wedges into the stone which were then soaked with water. As
the water was absorbed, the wedges expanded, causing the rock to crack. Once they
were cut, they were carried by boat either up or down the Nile River to the pyramid. It
is estimated that 5.5 million tons of limestone, 8,000 tons of granite (imported from
Aswan), and 500,000 tons of mortar were used in the construction of the Great
There have been many theories about the use of the pyramid, ranging from a tomb or
monument for a Pharaoh, an astronomical observatory, a place for elaborate Egyptian
rituals, a giant sundial, a grain storage structure, a prophetic monument, a water
irrigation system, a repository for ancient knowledge to the Egyptian Book of the
Dead immortalized in stone or a communication device to other worlds or realms.
Probably, pyramids had been internal tombs for pharaohs’ bodies, who weren’t just
kings for Egyptians but living gods, and they may have offered the people reassurance
of their continuing influence with the gods. The pyramid wasn’t just a symbol of regal
power, but a visible link between earth and heaven.
Whatever the truth is, the pyramids have been preserved for uncounted thousands of
years and they seem destined to continue their existence to eternity.
5. wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza
Egyclopidia National Geographic