Great Pyramids Of Giza

Great Pyramids Of Giza

Egypt is a well-known tourist destination due to its magnificent wonders such as the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx. Egypt is the cradle of civilization that allowed the same basic language and culture to flourish for nearly 3000 years. For most of this long history, Pharaoh was “Lord of the Two Lands”, a reflection of the natural division of the country into two parts, the Nile Valley and the Delta.

The Great Pyramids of Giza and the other Egyptian pyramids are very human monuments. Imagine the Great Pyramids of Giza 4000 years ago when they were complete with their limestone casings, their brilliance must have been blinding.

The Ancient Egyptians believed in the King as an incarnation of Horus (Falcon-headed god) and when the king (Horus) died, the godship passed to the next reigning king. The dead king would then be identified as Osiris (Horus’s father). So, pyramids were not only tombs of pharaohs, they were temple complexes.

Memphis (modern Giza) was planned as the capital city when Egypt became united in 3200 BCE and the pyramids zone. When the Egyptians built their pyramids, they also founded new cities, farms, and ranches.

You may be interested in this tour: Tour To Giza Pyramids, Sphinx And Saqqara

The Rise of the Pyramids in Ancient Egypt:

The roots of the pyramids in Ancient Egypt could be traced to the Pit Graves of the Predynastic Period, which were covered by simple mounds of sand and gravel. A little later, at the beginning of the 1st Dynasty, these grave pits consisted became a little complicated and were made of mud brick, divided into several chambers like a house. The tombs of the pharaohs of the 1st and 2nd Dynasty at Abydos followed this pattern, but with greater complexity. While some are certainly monumental in size, they do not approach the scale that emerges suddenly in the 3rd Dynasty reign of Djoser (2630-2611 BCE).

The Step Pyramid of King Djoser in Saqqara heralded the classic Pyramid Age, the 4th to 6th Dynasties, also known as the Old Kingdom. A few years later, Pharaoh Sneferu (2575-2551 BC), Father of Khufu built his Meidum Pyramid, followed by the Bent and Red Pyramids at Dahshur. Sneferu was succeeded by his son Khufu (2551-2528 BCE) who started the Great Pyramids of Giza program.

You may be interested in this tour: Tour To Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, Saqqara, Dahshur, And Memphis

The word for the pyramid in Ancient Egyptian Language is (mr). (M, the symbol of Owl) is translated as (place or instrument), (r, mouth symbol) is (ascension), so (mr) is place or instrument of ascension for the king after death.

The word pyramid comes from the Greek (pyramis) which means (wheat cake). The Egyptians had a conical bread loaf called (ben-ben) which was also the word for the capstone of a pyramid or the tip of an obelisk.

Stones for the Great Pyramids of Giza:

The Ancient Egyptians favored various stones for their pyramids and carvings. The main types of stones used in the pyramids are:

Limestone: There were two types of limestone used in building the pyramids. Rough limestone quarried from Giza Plateau for the core of the pyramids and fine limestone quarried from Turah on the east bank of the Nile.

Granite: The granite was quarried in Aswan, about 1100 km south of Giza to build the burial chambers and sarcophagi of the pyramid’s owners into the pyramids.

Sandstone: Sandstone was used to build the Nubian Pyramids.

Diorite: Diorite used to make some statues of kings.

Basalt: Basalt was used in the pavement of the Mortuary and Valley Temples of the pyramids.

To obtain these materials the Egyptians dispatched quarry expeditions to these places where these rocks lay exposed. They also quarried Copper needed for tools, as well as Gold and Silver. All of these materials were transported in huge barges sailing the Nile.

You may be interested in this trip: Tour To Giza Pyramids, Sphinx And Egyptian Museum With Lunch
The Standard Pyramid Complex:

Each major pyramid was a tomb for the king of Egypt. Since the king was a god, each pyramid was also the focus of a temple complex maintained by a priesthood long after the pharaoh had been laid to rest. The pyramid complex was an economic engine too.

There were two main Pyramid Complex types in Ancient Egypt, King Djoser Pyramid Type and Post Meidum Pyramid Type.

The standard pyramid complex consisted of:

The Pyramid, the central element in the pyramid complex.

The Mortuary Temple, the offering place.

The Valley Temple, the entrance to the pyramid complex.

The Cause Way, the link between the Valley Temple and the Pyramid.

Satellite Pyramid, the tomb for the Ka (spirit).

Queens Pyramids.

Pits for burial boats.

You may be interested in this tour: Tour To Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, Saqqara And Memphis

The Great Pyramid of Khufu:

Khufu/Cheops is the son and successor of pharaoh Sneferu. He was the 2nd pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty. He ruled about 23 years or about 40 years according to Manetho. He left Dahshur (his father’s cemetery) and built his pyramid in Giza, about 40 km north of his father’s Pyramids.

The pyramid itself was called (Akhet Khufu) or (Horizon of Khufu) is the greatest of the Great Pyramids of Giza. It contains about 2,300,000 blocks of stone, weighing on average 2.5 tons. Some of the casing stones at the base may weigh as much as 15 tons, and the large granite beams roofing the king’s chamber and the stress-relieving chambers above it have been estimated to weigh 50 to 80 tons. Its base length is 230m  and it rose to a height of 146.5m with an angle of 51 degrees.

There are 3 chambers inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu, known as the Subterranean Chamber, Queen’s Chamber, and the King’s Chamber. Some Egyptologists believe that there were two changes in the pyramid plan due to the presence of the 3 chambers. They believed the Subterranean Chamber to be the original burial chamber of the king.

The King’s Chamber is entirely constructed out of red granite. Above the King’s Chamber are 5 stress-relieving chambers to distribute the weight and stresses of the mountain of masonry above. This is an innovative and ingenious arrangement, for which there are few parallels and no precedent. Graffiti of the name of the king (Khnum-Khufu) and some workers’ names were left on the walls.

Khufu also built 3 pyramids for queens. One of them may have been intended for Queen Hetephers (Khufu’s mother). The most important find in the Queens’ Pyramids was the discovery of the treasure of Queen Hetepheres, displayed now in the Cairo Museum.

A large number of boat pits was indicated around Khufu’s Pyramid. In one of them, a huge dismantled boat was found. Now is reassembled and shown in the Boat Museum beside Khufu’s Pyramid.

You may be interested in this tour: Tour To Giza Pyramids, Sphinx, Saqqara And Dahshur

Khafre’s Pyramid:

Khafre’s Pyramid was called “Great is Khafre” and is the second tallest pyramid of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Its base length was 215m, rising to a height of 143.5m at an angle of 53 degrees. The pyramid was founded on a terrace that the ancient builders cut down by 10m below the original bedrock surface. Apart from the bottom course of the outer casing is granite. The pyramid was cloaked in Turah limestone. Only the upper quarter of the casing remains.

Khafre’s Pyramid contains two descending passages. It has been suggested that the pyramid was originally intended to be larger, or that its north baseline was first planned to be 30m further north so that the two passages would have been entirely within the body of the masonry.

Khafre’s sarcophagus is of black granite, when Belzoni entered the burial chamber were some bones in the sarcophagus turned out to be those of a Bull. It has been suggested that these bones were probably an offering thrown into the sarcophagus at some unknown later date by intruders, long after the king’s body had been robbed and lost.

You may be interested in this tour: Tour To Saqqara, Dahshur And Memphis

The Great Sphinx:

The Great Sphinx stands guard before the Pyramid of Khafre. The Sphinx was the first truly colossal piece of sculpture in Ancient Egypt. The Sphinx is made from a body of a Lion and a human head with the Nemes headdress. The Sphinx was carved from the natural bedrock at the very base of Khafre’s causeway.

The Lion was a solar symbol and a common archetype of royalty. The royal human head symbolized power and might be controlled by the intelligence of the pharaoh, guarantor of cosmic order, or ma’at.

The granite stela of Thutmose IV dates to the first year of his reign 1401 BCE. It lies between the paws of the Sphinx and is called the “Dream Stela”, which commemorates his accession to the throne and tells the story of how he ascended the throne.

Menkaure’s Pyramid:

It is the smallest of the three Great Pyramids of Giza. It has a base area of 102*104 m. It rose to around 65 m at an angle of 51 degrees. Because Menkaure died after at least 26 years of rule, his complex was left unfinished. The work was completed in mud brick, by his successor Shepseskaf.

The entrance of the pyramid lies about 4m above the base of the north side of the pyramid. A descending passage slopes down for 31m to a horizontal chamber. A horizontal passage leads to a rectangular antechamber. Another passage opens in the wall of the chamber directly above the point where the horizontal section is, this passage slopes up and stops in the pyramid core. The upper passage was probably abandoned when the floor of the antechamber was lowered. A short passage slopes from the antechamber to the burial chamber. Unfortunately, the sarcophagus was lost at the sea on the Ship Beatrice.

Three queens’ pyramids were built to the south of Menkaure’s pyramid.

You may be interested in this tour: Cairo Layover: The Pyramids and Museum Express Tour

The Fall of the Pyramids:

In the 5th and 6th dynasties each king still built a pyramid, but on a much smaller scale with smaller stones and a core of stone rubble fill. At the same time, the pyramid temples increased in size, complexity, and craftsmanship in comparison with those of the early 4th Dynasty Pyramids.

Pyramid building almost ceased during the First Intermediate Period when unified rule gave away to rival principalities. It was resumed in the Middle Kingdom when the first pyramids were built with a core of small and broken stone in casement or retaining walls, and later pyramids were built with a mud-brick core. Sizes were not as standardized as the later Old Kingdom.

New Kingdom pharaohs ceased building pyramids due to the grave robbery and cut their tombs deep into the mountain at the Valley of the Kings in Thebes (modern Luxor). More than 800 years after the last royal pyramid was completed in Egypt, pyramids on a smaller scale began to be built in Nubia.

How did the Ancient Egyptians build their pyramids?

The puzzles of how the Egyptians built their pyramids are endlessly fascinating. Many theories have appeared through time. Theories vary a lot, aliens, sleds, and ramps have all been suggested.

Archaeologists have found the ramp systems remain in an ancient alabaster quarry at Hatnub in the Eastern Desert. It dates back at least as far as the reign of Khufu.

The pyramids’ builders may have been able to move the massive stone blocks across the desert using a sled and wetting the sand, according to a new study by the University of Amsterdam.

There are so many more theories suggesting how the pyramids were built but, nothing is confirmed as yet. That is why the construction system of the pyramids is still a big mystery.

The Great Pyramids of Giza are included in all of our travel packages. As well as some of Cairo Day Tours.

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