The most important and famous of the Egyptian
pyramids is the
Pyramid of Cheops. It is assumed
of the Great Pyramid of Giza was ordered by Pharaoh
Cheops or Khufu who ruled over Egypt between 2620BC
to 2580 BC. Other sources put years of his reign in
2604- 2581 BC. His workers
spent much of his lifetime construction this huge
grave site. It took about 25 years to complete around 2590 BC.
Chief engineer that oversaw this mammoth
construction project was vizier or advisor Hemiunu
(pictured right). He buried on a cemetery next to
Each side of the pyramid
is estimated at 227.5 meters long and 146.6 meters
high and covers
an area of 5.3 hectares. Inclination angle of the
walls of the pyramid are measured at
Interestingly architects turned their structure into
a mathematical puzzle. Lengths of various parts of
the building was designed with incredible precision.
It seems almost like a puzzle for the subsequent
generations. For example if you take the height of the pyramid
and multiply it times 2*π
is almost exactly equal to its total perimeter.
Technically number Pi was not invented at the time,
so there is still some debate on whether it is a
mere coincidence or was done on purpose. Another
oddity is the fact that the area of the base of the pyramid of
Cheops is almost exact as a Pyramid of the Moon in
Teotihuacan in Mexico.
The surface for
construction of the Great Pyramid was prepared using
ingenious method. A grid of trenches was dug up,
then they were filled with water. Since water
surface is even all extra rock was removed. Once the
surface of the platform was at the same level as
water in the trenches, the trenches were filled with
rubble. So the pyramids are perfectly level with the
surface of the Earth.
The construction of the pyramid took about 2.3
million stone blocks weighing 2.5 tons each, and the
total volume of the pyramid is 2.34 million cubic
Blocks are so well fit together you can't even a
insert a leaf of paper between the two blocks.
Historians believe that stones were moved to the
site of construction via a huge ramp, however there
is still a subject of debate whether it was a single
narrow ramp that must have extended for over a mile
in length or whether it was less complicated by more
efficient way to deliver stone to the top. Below you
can see some of the examples of ramp design.
The perplexing mystery about the pyramid is the
absence of any decorations or reliefs inside. It is
very strange and further deepens the mystery of this
There are only three "burial chambers"
that are completely barren. King's Chamber is a room
about 11 feet long, 17 feet wide and a height of
about 19 feet. Unlike the rest of the pyramid its
walls are made of granite. The red sarcophagus in
the middle of the chamber is empty. It is believed
that the body along with all artefacts were stolen
or thrown out during times of unrest and civil wars.
Other claim it was never there on a first place.
On the south side of the pyramid stands a fairly
recent discovery of a boat.
This is so-called solar boat, one of the five, which
Cheops had to take to the underworld.
It is built of cedar and did not use a single nail.
Judging by the remains of the Nile River mud on its
sides, it was used during pharaoh's lifetime as his
Cross-section of the
Entrance to the Great
2 Al-Ma ʾ mun tunnel
(now it is the main access)
3 Connection between
Descending and Ascending
4 Descending Corridor
5 Rock chamber
6 Ascending corridor
Chamber with "air shafts"
8 Horizontal passage
9 Great Gallery
10 King's Chamber with
11 Corridor to the
sarcophagus chamber and
blocking stone chamber
12 Air or escape shaft with
The Pyramid of Chephren
The second largest pyramid is a pyramid of Chephren
Khafre, built on 40 years later than the first.
Looking from a distance it might give an impression
that it is higher than the pyramid of Chephren, but
in reality it is slightly shorter. Although it is
logical to assume this was designed on purpose.
Side of the base of the pyramid of Chephren is 215 m,
it's height is 136 m.
The complex of Pyramid of Chephren includes temple
of the valley, the road to Nile River, The Temple of
the dead, and a lower temple where mummification of
Chephren took place. It was once guarded by 25
statues of the pharaohs.
The Pyramid of Menkaure
Completes the ensemble of the great pyramids of Giza
Its construction was completed in 2505
This pyramid is much smaller than their predecessors.
Side of each base is 108 meters, the initial height
was 66.5 m
(today - 62 m).
The pyramid contains the only burial chamber that is cut in rocky base.
The Great Pyramids of Giza is only part of the vast
necropolis of Giza.
Next to them is a complex of several small pyramids,
where the pharaohs burried their wives so they can
join them in the afterlife. Also tombs of high priests and high officials
were situated here. It was probably a high honor
that would be granted by the pharaoh himself.
At the foot of the vast plateau of Giza are numerous
funerary temples. These are interesting structures
and unlike the Pyramids their interior is more
colorful. Additionally it is the only place on the
Giza plateau where you will be allowed inside so
there is little choice anyway. The interior of
Pyramids are closed and climbing of the Pyramids is
also prohibited after several fatal falls. Another
mysterious figure on the plateau is the famous Great Sphinx,
carved out, like most colossal statues of Giza, from
Its length is 73 m, height at 20 m. It is believed
that the Sphinx was carved out during the construction
of the pyramid of Khafre, and his face (almost
destroyed by the Mamelukes and the cannon fire of
the Napoleonic artillery) has the features of
Chephren- Khafre, brother and successor of
Every evening, at the foot of the pyramids you can
watch "The Sound and Light" show devoted to the
Historians about Giza Pyramids
Any traveller that visits that pyramids on
Giza plateau might ask herself or himself: "How do we know
Cheops constructed the Great Pyramid?" or "When do we know
these magnificent structures were built by the Egyptians?".
And the answer might surprise you. We really have no
credible source of information about these magnificent
alleged mausoleums. We don't know for certain who ordered
their creation, when and most importantly how it was
Many assumptions of the history of Giza
Pyramids were formed by works of Ancient historians from
Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Constant looting,
rebellions and wars stripped clean the interior of the
pyramids and surrounding buildings. Prominent appearance of
the pyramids at the Giza plateau attracted numerous
generals, kings, soldiers and simple local peasant who took
everything that could be carried away. Thus our knowledge
about timing of construction and its purpose is based
largely on works on works of ancient historians rather than
archaeological finds. However most of them lived centuries
after the alleged construction of pyramids. Thus many of the
assumptions and dogmas of Giza Pyramid origin and history is
Herodotus of Halicarnassus
of Halicarnassus is one of the most respected historians in
the Ancient Greek history that earned him a nickname of
"father of history". He completed nine books dedicated to
the History of Antiquity in a huge epos known simply as
Histories. Herodotus travelled to Egypt around 450 BC at the
time when this region of the Mediterranean was under control
of the mighty Persian Empire. Information that he got from
his travels around the land he stated in the second book of
Despite vast information and interesting
insides about the Giza Necropolis the work of Herodotus has
its own shortcomings. First of all he travelled to the
region 2000 years after their alleged construction. Much was
lost and destroyed by the subsequent generations of various
generations of different peoples and conquerors. Many parts
of the history was replaced by stories, legends, theories
with little or no factual evidence or historic documents.
Unlike other graves and temples in Egypt pyramids of Giza
Plateau has no original inscriptions or dedications that
could be attributed to any ancient pharaoh. Secondly
Herodotus relied on translators to talk to the locals. Much
of information and knowledge was misinterpreted or
misunderstood by the Greek traveller. It is possible that
the ownership of the pyramid didn't even belong to Cheops,
Menkaure. Archaeologists never discovered any
hieroglyphs or symbols that represented these famous
Egyptian rulers. In fact the only connection that we have
between Cheops and his alleged pyramid is a small
inscription that was made above so- called King's chamber
that was made by the slave of Cheops. The same stones has
inscriptions made by Arabs, French soldiers of Napoleon's
army, soldiers of the British Commonwealth and many other.
So it is logical to assume that Herodotus read the
inscription, misunderstood it as a sign of ownership and
called the Giza Necropolis after men who in fact had nothing
to do with the pyramids. After all it is highly unusual that
the pyramids were constructed and yet no one tried to put a
huge sign that states the name of the builder.
And thirdly Herodotus obviously belonged to
freedom loving Greek culture. Much of what he saw and heard
he viewed through the eyes of his subjective culture. For
example he described Cheops as a tyrannical king that forced
his people to work for decades. Those who disobeyed his
orders were put to death. In his unstoppable lust to
internalize his name he forced his family to work to gather
the resources. "When he needed money, his [ordered] own
daughter to sit in a brothel and forced them to earn certain
sum of money (Histories II, 126)". It is possible that
Herodotus simply assumed that Cheops was a ruthless ruler
since he couldn't explain the reason why would free man
spend months working on construction a huge structure.
Diodorus of Sicily
Diodorus of Sicily visited Egypt in 60 BC. He
based his historical work partially on earlier works of
Herodotus and partially on his own experience and knowledge
that he got from the Egyptian priests that he encountered.
Here again we met certain degree of uncertainty. We don't
have the names of source of his information and we don't
know if they told the truth. So whatever we learned from
Diodorus of Sicily must be taken with a certain grain of
salt. However his works carries a certain degree of
authenticity of that the Egyptians believed about the
origins of Giza pyramids.
Unlike Herodotus Diodorus of Sicily did not
believe that the pyramids were used to store the bodies of
famous kings. In his historic works he believed that
pyramids were abandoned shortly after their construction.
The bodies of kings were buried elsewhere in an undisclosed
location since Egyptian priesthood was too scared to put
coffins in a pyramids that was visible to everyone. They
were afraid that workers that were forced to work on
construction of the site would rebel and destroy bodies.
Egyptians believed that without preservation of bodies their
spirits would never find peace in the after life.
Additionally Diodorus of Sicily states that
the actual builders of the Giza pyramids were different
altogether. Thus the Great Giza Pyramid was constructed by
king Harmais. Pyramid of Chephren was constructed upon
orders of Amasis (570- 526 BC), a king in the 26th dynasty,
and finally the smaller Pyramid of
Menkaure was constructed by Inaros I (middle of the
7th century BC). The last pharaoh became famous as a man
that red a revolt against the rule of the Persian Empire. It
is possible that this different ownership came from the
local legends that surrounded the pyramids and the whole
necropolis for centuries.
Additionally Diodorus states lining of the
pyramids was still present at the time of his visit. However
the top of the pyramid already lost significant part of its
original height. A platform that measured sis cubits wide
(approximately 3 meters or 10 feet). Furthermore famous
historian claims that the construction of this significant
structures took about 20 years to complete and required
participation of over 360,000 slaves, overseers and
engineers of the project.
Strabo of Amasya
Strabo visited Egypt around 25 BC, shortly
after Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus conquered Egypt and
Cleopatra along with her lover Antonius committed suicide.
He stated that pyramids were used as a huge mausoleum for
the Egyptian pharaohs, but he didn't mention their names. He
probably entered the Great Pyramid via an entrance made by
the grave robbers.
Pliny the Elder is a Roman historian who
visited and described the pyramids.