Egyptian Pyramids (Giza, 26th century B.C.)

Egyptian Pyramids (Giza, 26th century B.C.)

The Giza Necropolis is the only one of the Ancient wonders still intact.

History

Keywords

Giza, Egypt, pyramid, Giza Plateau, necropolis, Wonders of the Ancient World, Cheops, Nile, Sphinx, pharaoh, World Heritage, burial place, tomb, Sun god, burial chamber, mortuary temple, valley temple, antiquity, ruler, building, edifice, grave, Cairo, Necropolis, sarcophagus, church, embalming, dynasty, cemetery

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Scenes

  • - The largest of the pyramids of Giza is probably the most famous pyramid in the world. It was built in the 26th century B.C. for a member of the 4th dynasty, known as Cheops in Greek. The pyramid is 146.5 m (480.6 ft) tall.
  • - The second highest (143.5 m or 470.8 ft) of the three large pyramids was made for Khufu's son in the mid-26th century B.C.
  • - The smallest of the three large pyramids in Giza was built for the son of Khafre, who reigned at the end of the 26th century B.C. The original height of the pyramid was 66 m (216.5 ft).
  • - The road that led from the valley temple to the pyramid was 18 m (59.1 ft) wide and approximately 800 m (2,624.7 ft) long. The causeway was raised up on an embankment, its walls were nearly 40 m (131.2 ft) tall.
  • - The most famous one is the 73 m (293.5 ft) long and 20 m (65.6 ft) high statue in Giza, Egypt. The statue guarding the Necropolis was probably made during the reign of Khafre.
  • - It is one of the longest (6,685 km or 4,153.9 mi) and most famous rivers in the world, flowing through ten African countries. It ends in a delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea in the north of Egypt.

Ancient wonders still intact

The most important works of ancient Egyptian architecture are related to burials and religion. These two functions are combined in the pyramids, intended as burial places of the pharaohs, and of which, the wonders of the ancient world, the pyramids of Giza are the most famous.
The group of pyramids, located near the present-day capital, Cairo, were built in the 26th century B.C., during the Egyptian Old Kingdom. The three pyramids were designed for Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure (Greek: Kheops, Khephren and Mykerinos). They were father, son and grandson in the 4th dynasty of pharaohs.
The pyramids (after the initial cascade design) have square-based pyramid shapes. About one hundred thousand laborers were working on their construction, sometimes even over one or two decades.

Watchful eye on the pyramid

  • - The largest of the pyramids of Giza is probably the most famous pyramid in the world. It was built in the 26th century B.C. for a member of the 4th dynasty, known as Cheops in Greek. The pyramid is 146.5 m (480.6 ft) tall.
  • - The temple was 52.5 m (172.2 ft) long and it was constructed from Tura limestone. There was a row of columns and a sacrifice shrine in the temple. The building now houses the Solar Barge.

Pyramid of Khufu – the largest

The largest of the pyramids of Giza was designed for Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek). Its original height was 146-147 meters (479-482.3 feet), the base sides were 230 meters (754.6 feet) long. Its base area was more than 5 hectares (12.4 acres).
The monumental structure consisted of about 2.5 million pieces of stone blocks (each weighing several tons). They were transported from the Giza Plateau by boats on the Nile.
Constructing the pyramid required outstanding engineering design and labor. With primitive tools (but appropriate methods), wonderful buildings were created. The blocks of stone fit together tightly without any mortar. The sides of the pyramid face the four cardinal directions. The difference between the length of the side of the bases is not more than 20 cm (7.9 in), and the maximum level difference of the pavement around the pyramid is 2.5 cm (1 in).

The Great Pyramid

  • - The second highest (143.5 m or 470.8 ft) of the three large pyramids was made for Khufu's son in the mid-26th century B.C.
  • - The complementary pyramid was (uncommonly) located on the southern side of the pyramid. Its original height was about 21 m (68.9 ft).
  • - Khafre's mortuary temple is one of the largest of these temples; it was preserved in a very good condition. Its construction served as an example for classical mortuary temples.

Pyramid of Khafre – the second-largest

The Pyramid of Khafre (Kephren in Greek) was the second largest of the three pyramids of Giza. The original height was approximately 143 meters (469.2 feet), the side of the square base is about 215 meters (705.4 feet) long. It was constructed from several layers of stones of different size and quality. The blocks were not carved to shape, but were fitted together very precisely.
The tiling is similar to that of the Great Pyramid, but it is much less thick. The tiling stones, today only visible in traces, on the peak were made of polished white limestone brought from the eastern bank of the Nile.
The fragments of bones, discovered in a sarcophagus by the archeologist Belzoni, were the remains of a bull.

The "stone cap"

  • - The smallest of the three large pyramids in Giza was built for the son of Khafre. Menkaure reigned at the end of the 26th century B.C. The original height of the pyramid was 66 m (216.5 ft).
  • - There were three complementary pyramids on the southern side of the pyramid. Only one of these, the cultic pyramid was a "true" pyramid, the other two, the tombs of queens were step pyramids.
  • - The mortuary temple was at the center of the eastern side of the pyramid. The square-based temple was built from local limestone.

Pyramid of Menkaure – the smallest

The building, erected as the tomb of Pharaoh Menkaure (Greek: Mykerinos), was the smallest of the three pyramids of Giza. The original height was 66 meters (216.5 feet), the base length was 103 meters (337.9 feet). It was constructed from Tura limestone, as was the tiling of the Great Pyramid; its lower third was covered with huge blocks of granite from Aswan.
Legend has it that the building was completed during the reign of the beautiful Nitocris, the first Egyptian Queen of the 6th dynasty, and she had been buried here. This has not been proved by any artifacts. The locals, however, say that sometimes the soul of Nitocris appears, wandering by the grave.

  • - The most famous one is the 73 m (239.5 ft) long and 20 m (65.6 ft) high statue in Giza, Egypt. The statue guarding the Necropolis was probably made during the reign of Khafre.

Guardian of the Necropolis

This mysterious sculpture is unique in the history of ancient Egyptian sculpture. The huge statue with a lion's body and a human head depicts the pharaoh, combining human nature, divine power and the strength of a lion. The 73-meter-long (239.5-foot-long) and 20-meter-tall (65.6-foot-tall) Sphinx, the symbol of eternity, can be regarded as the guardian of the Necropolis (City of the Dead).
The date of its creation is still debated. Some scientists believe it is older than the pyramids, while others say it was probably created either during the reign of Khufu or Khafre. What is certain is that it was carved from a limestone block quarried for the Great Pyramid.
Wind-blown sand, seeping water, humidity and air pollution have damaged the statue. Its restoration is basically continuous.

The Sphinx

  • - It is the only room in the pyramid tiled with granite. The Pharaoh's red granite sarcophagus was placed in the center of the chamber.
  • - According to the most widely accepted theory, the room is just an unfinished chamber misnamed by Arab travelers.
  • - The Pharaoh's chamber was accessible through a 47 m (154.2 ft) long and 2 m (6.6 ft) wide hallway, the Grand Gallery.
  • - It was placed 17 m (55.8 ft) above ground level, to protect the Pharaoh's tomb against grave robbers.

Exploring the pyramid's interior

The entrance of the passage leading to the interior of the grave was on the northern side of the pyramid, 17 meters (59 feet) above the ground. To hide it from the unwelcome visitors, it was even walled in. The interior of the pyramid remained undisturbed until 820 A.D. (At that time, Abdallah al-Mamun and his group entered but, surprisingly, they found an empty sarcophagus.)
The descending passage from the entrance branches at ground level: it descends to an unfinished burial chamber and ascends to a 47.5-meter-long (155.8-foot-long) and 8.5-meter-high (27.9-foot-high) hall. The hall is located right next to the King's chamber, the central room of the pyramid. A relieving structure was built over it, to prevent the ceiling of the chamber from collapsing. The internal air flow was provided by air shafts.

  • - One of the longest (6,685 km or 4,153.9 mi) and most famous rivers in the world, flowing through ten African countries. It ends in a delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea in Northern Egypt.
  • - The road that led from the valley temple to the pyramid was 18 m (59.1 ft) wide and approximately 800 m (2,624.7 ft) long. The causeway was raised up on an embankment, its walls were nearly 40 m (131.2 ft) tall.
  • - The largest of the pyramids of Giza is probably the most famous pyramid in the world. It was built in the 26th century B.C. for a member of the 4th dynasty, known as Cheops in Greek. The pyramid is 146.5 m (480.6 ft) tall.
  • - The temple was 52.5 m (172.2 ft) long and it was constructed from Tura limestone. There was a row of columns and a sacrifice shrine in the temple. The building now houses the Solar Barge.
  • - The second highest (143.5 m or 470.8 ft) of the three large pyramids was made for Khufu's son in the mid-26th century B.C.
  • - The smallest of the three large pyramids in Giza was built for the son of Khafre. Menkaure reigned at the end of the 26th century B.C. The original height of the pyramid was 66 m (216.5 ft).
  • - The most famous one is the 73 m (239.5 ft) long and 20 m (65.6 ft) high statue in Giza, Egypt. The statue guarding the Necropolis was probably made during the reign of Khafre.
  • - It is the only room in the pyramid tiled with granite. The Pharaoh's red granite sarcophagus was placed in the center of the chamber.
  • - According to the most widely accepted theory, the room is just an unfinished chamber misnamed by Arab travelers.
  • - The Pharaoh's chamber was accessible through a 47 m (154.2 ft) long and 2 m (6.6 ft) wide hallway, the Grand Gallery.
  • - It was placed 17 m (55.8 ft) above ground level, to protect the Pharaoh's tomb against grave robbers.

  • - The most famous of them is the 73 m (239.5 ft) long and 20 m (65.6 ft) high statue in Giza, Egypt. The statue guarding the Necropolis was probably made during the reign of Khafre.
  • - The smallest of the three large pyramids in Giza was built for the son of Khafre, who reigned at the end of the 26th century B.C. The original height of the pyramid was 66 m (216.5 ft).
  • - The second highest (143.5 m or 470.8 ft) of the three large pyramids was made for Khufu's son in the mid-26th century B.C.
  • - The largest of the pyramids of Giza is probably the most famous pyramid in the World. It was built in the 26th century B.C. for a member of the 4th dynasty, known as Cheops in Greek. The pyramid is 146.5 m (480.6 ft) tall.
  • - One of the longest (6,685 km or 4,153.9 mi) and most famous rivers in the world, flowing through ten African countries. It ends in a delta that empties into the Mediterranean Sea in Northern Egypt.

Narration

The oldest pyramids were raised in ancient Egypt, in the 27th century B.C., during the reign of the 3rd dynasty. The principal aim of these structures was to provide a proper resting place for the pharaohs, worshiped as sons of the Sun god.
The Pyramids of Giza, the most famous of the pyramids, are located near Cairo, the present-day capital of Egypt, not far from the Nile delta. The structures, built at the foot of the Giza Plateau on the Mokattam Formation, were rightly considered among the wonders of the ancient world.

Some of the building material for the construction of these monumental structures was transported to the site by boat. Thus, a port was built on the Nile. It is believed that there were up to one hundred thousand laborers at a time working on their construction. A separate camp was built for the laborers. This, together with other building complexes, formed an entire new city by the river.

Through the designers' ingenuity and the immense work, three pyramid districts were built. The structure of these was similar. The Valley Temples were connected with the central buildings of the Necropolis by a passage. The Pyramids of the Pharaohs were surrounded by the tombs (mastabas) of relatives and aristocrats, as well as by complementary pyramids.

The largest of the three pyramids was built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops in Greek), the second largest for Khafre (Kephren), and the smallest one for Menkaure (Mykerinos). They were members of the 4th dynasty of kings: father, son and grandson.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, built for Pharaoh Cheops, is the oldest and the only one of the seven Ancient Wonders still in existence. Besides the Great Wall of China, it is the largest known ancient structure.
The sides of the pyramid face the four cardinal directions, and their length is around 230 meters (754.6 feet). Its base area, which is as large as four football pitches, is almost perfectly horizontal. The 137-meter-tall (449.5-feet-tall) structure was constructed of about 2 million blocks of stone, weighing 1.5-10 tons each. The total weight of this monumental tomb might have reached 5 million tons. It was covered with tiles of polished white limestone.

The original entrance to the pyramid was located on the northern side, 17 meters (55.8 feet) above ground level; hiding the entrance was a way to protect the structure against grave robbers. The passage behind the entrance branches inside the pyramid: the Descending Passage leads to an unfinished, subterranean burial chamber, the Ascending Passage leads to the Grand Gallery and the Queen's Chamber. A passage at the top of the Grand Gallery takes one to the King's Chamber, which was the tomb of the pharaoh, the final resting place for his sarcophagus. There were air shafts inside the pyramid, and relieving chambers above the Pharaoh's chamber.

The City of the Dead had a special "resident." The guardian of the Necropolis was the Sphinx, a creature with a human head and a lion's body. The date of its creation is still debated; many scholars believe it was ordered by Pharaoh Khefren (and thus it is his face that is reflected in the face of the Sphinx). Its probable function was to guard the pyramid complex.

The pyramids of Giza have been included on the list of World Heritage Cultural Sites since 1979. Their majesty and mystery attract millions of tourists every year.

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