The Pyramids of Egypt – Architectural History

The Pyramids of Egypt are thousands of years old and yet they still continue to fascinate in our modern times. These structures are often surrounded with tales and mysteries to how they were built. The pyramids of Giza remain the most famous; however, there are hundreds documented throughout Egypt. These large tombs were massive and it was believed they took roughly 20 years to construct—all with precise planning, labor, and power. The pyramids of Giza are popular and it is estimated they bring 9 million tourists yearly. 

The pyramids were built to protect the body of the deceased pharaoh. These massive tombs were constructed to withstand the elements of time and were intended to last forever. Most Ancient
Egyptians planned for their death and the pharaoh was no exception. His death was much more elaborate than the typical Ancient Egyptian and considered an important event; this process was tied to the rising and setting of the sun.

The Great Pyramids of Egypt are 3 in number; Khufu’s Pyramid, Khafre’s Pyramid and Menkaure’s Pyramid.
Khufu’s pyramid was built to be 146 meters high, but it’s remains are 138 meters high. It slopes at approximately 51 degrees. Surprisingly, the sides of the pyramid are carefully positioned to point north, south, east and west. The sides measure 230 meters. The error of margin between the sides is less than 1 percent, which means it is highly accurate.
Khafre’s pyramid appears to be the tallest one, but it was intended to be the second tallest after Khufu’s pyramid. It appears so because of the varying bed rock levels below. It slopes at 53 degrees and currently stands 148 meters tall. It has a smooth limestone cap which makes it appear even larger.
Menkaure’s pyramid is the smallest of the three. Today it stands 66.5 meters with an angle of 51 degrees. The base of this pyramid is also smaller – 108 meters. This pyramid was not complete when Menkaure died so his son Shepseskaf took the task of finishing the project.

These pyramids may appear to be alone on the Giza Plateau but are not. There are many other structures that surround these massive tombs such boat pits, queens’ pyramids, mortuary temples, valley temples, mastabas, etc.

But how were the pyramids built? This question has puzzled scientist for centuries and still continues to puzzle experts today. To date, there has been no documentation or clues that have given Egyptologists answers about the construction of the pyramids. Because there are many theories and ideas as to how the pyramids were constructed, we will cover the most common theory used in constructing the pyramids. The most common theory for moving large blocks is to slide logs under the large stones to make mobility easier. The block would have been attached to large ropes with people pushing the block forward. At the same time several men would remove the last log uncovered by the stone. The end log that was removed would then be transported to the front where it would complete the cycle under the stone and the endless cycle would be repeated. Moving the block was one thing but placing it into position was another. This idea has also left scientist baffled. The most common theory for placement of each stone is said to have a ramp that went around the pyramid’s sides. Some have concluded that the ramp only touched one side of the pyramid. This might have been true, but the ramp might have had more material then the pyramid did and this would have made placement of each block difficult. Herodotus was a Greek historian who traveled to Egypt around 450 B.C. and wrote that the Egyptians had some sort of gear that was used in lifting these large blocks. Although this might sound extraordinary, scientists have found no proof of any such lifting devices. It’s estimated that the Great Pyramid took almost twenty years to complete due to its size and the type of stone used in creating the structure. Each stone  weighed about two to five tons and came from Aswan and Tura. Not only was the stone imported but also stonemasons would have worked all year long cutting and shaping each block. All these complicated tasks made the pyramid difficult to construct but as we know today, the end results are amazing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *