One of the most fascinating and majestic wonders of the ancient world are the Great Pyramids of Giza, defining symbol of Egypt is the only surviving landmark out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Even today they continue to amaze and enthrall us with their overwhelming mass and seemingly impossible perfection. The pyramid was considered a place of regeneration for the deceased ruler.
It is part of a complex of 3 large pyramids in the Giza Necropolis located in modern Cairo, Egypt. It took approximately 20 years to complete, and several theories are debated by scholars as to how it was built and by whom.
Three pyramids, three rulers
The three primary pyramids on the Giza plateau were built over the span of three generations by the rulers Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. Each pyramid was part of a royal mortuary complex that also included a temple at its base and a long stone causeway (some nearly 1 kilometer in length) leading east from the plateau to a valley temple on the edge of the floodplain.
The Pyramid of Khufu (or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and the largest among the three pyramids. It initially stood at 481 feet and was the tallest man-made a structure for about 3,800 years. Now, due to factors like erosion and other natural causes, it stands at 455 feet with a base of 754 feet (230 meters) and is comprised of over two million blocks of stone.
Other (smaller) pyramids, and small tombs
Several smaller pyramids belonging to queens are also arranged as satellites. For the prominent members of the court a major cemetery of smaller tombs, known as mastabas, fills the area to the east and west of the pyramid of Khufu which were constructed in a grid-like pattern. According to them, being buried near the pharaoh was a great honor and helped ensure a prized place in the afterlife.
To the south of the Great Pyramid near Khafre’s valley temple lies the Great Sphinx. Carved out of limestone, the Sphinx has the facial features of a man but the body of a recumbent lion; it is approximately 240 feet (73 meters) long and 66 feet (20 meters) high.
Exactly how it was built, however, still puzzles people in the modern day. The most plausible one is that the Egyptians employed a sloping and encircling embankment of brick, earth, and sand, which was increased in height and in length as the pyramid rose; stone blocks were hauled up the ramp by means of sledges, rollers, and levers. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the Great Pyramid took 20 years to construct and demanded the labor of 100,000 men.
Khufu’s pyramid is perhaps the most colossal single building ever erected on the planet. Its sides rise at an angle of 51°52′ and are accurately oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass. The Great Pyramid’s core is made of yellowish limestone blocks, the outer casing (now almost completely gone) and the inner passages are of finer light-colored limestone, and the interior burial chamber is built of huge blocks of granite.
Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone were cut, transported, and assembled to create the 5.75-million-ton structure, which is a masterpiece of technical skill and engineering ability. The internal walls, as well as those few outer-casing stones that still remain in place, show finer joints than any other masonry constructed in ancient Egypt.
There is no wonder why the Great Pyramid of Giza was on the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is a evidence to human insight and strength, and its size and near-perfect proportions must have been breathtaking to behold.