Egyptian pyramids – The calling card of Egypt, the wonder of the world, the pyramids in Egypt about a hundred and all different sizes.
Most of the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids are still unsolved. Looking at these grandiose structures, it is difficult to imagine how they could be built in antiquity – 45-48 centuries ago. This is the time when most scientists date the construction of the pyramids. But disputes between them continue, concerning not only the period of construction. There are different hypotheses about the construction methods of these structures, and their purpose.
It is believed that the pyramids are giant tombs, built by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to emphasize their greatness, closeness to the gods and a comfortable posthumous existence. In Ancient Egypt death was considered as transition to other world, after death, on which the usual attributes of earthly life were carried over. Therefore, in the funerary rooms, in addition to the embalmed body of the deceased ruler, were his military armor, weapons, household utensils.
Interesting facts about the Pyramids
In total there are more than a hundred pyramidal tombs of different sizes and degrees of preservation in different areas of modern Egypt. They are grouped into “pyramid fields”. The most famous and most visited is at Giza.
Construction of the first Egyptian pyramids belongs to the XXVII century BC. The first stone necropolis was built in Saqqara for Pharaoh Djoser. Its features are the presence of huge steps and a vertical shaft, closed from above with a dome. The pharaoh must have climbed the steps to heaven, but the purpose of the shaft remains unknown. In contrast to the early funerary buildings – mastabs, the tomb of Djoser had several burial chambers – and for family members. The body of the pharaoh himself was not found inside. The version of ancient robbery is dubious: gold jewelry and other valuable items were not touched in the inner galleries.
Among the later tombs two in Dakhshur are well preserved. The height of the “broken” pyramid reaches 104 m and that of the “pink” pyramid – 109 m. Granite blocks of these structures are not fastened with a mortar. The monolithic structure is achieved by an ideal fitting of stone blocks to each other and their enormous weight.
Unique tourist brand is considered a three pyramids, located near Giza – a large city 20 km from Cairo. They bear the names of the pharaohs, for whose burial they were built – Cheops, Chephren and Meekerin. These buildings, especially the first two, just overwhelm the viewer with its monumentality, feeling like a grain of sand next to them.
They were originally faced with polished white limestone. It reflected the sunlight and made the tombs shine like gems. It is believed that at that time the pyramids were visible even from outer space. Their facades still change color at different times of the day. They are pink in the morning, golden in the afternoon and dark purple in the evening.
The feat of the ancient architects who delivered millions of huge stone blocks to the construction site and stacked them on top of each other with jewel-like precision without lifting equipment or power units cannot be kept in mind either. Surfaces of stone blocks are mirror smooth, and in their joints it is impossible to put even a knife blade! Only the most modern equipment can process stone in such a way. The main mystery is the way to lift multi-ton stone blocks up tens of meters. The modern attempt to repeat the supposed methods of the ancient builders in the form of embankments and drags has failed.
It seems that ancient Egyptians possessed the secret of moving stone blocks, unknown to modern science. After all, huge stone monoliths are also found in other ancient structures. In the temple centers of ancient Egypt there are many stone obelisks weighing from 50 to 70 tons.
The Pyramid of Cheops.
This grandiose structure is the only surviving one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. It is called the Great Pyramid not only because of its greatest size. Many unsolved mysteries were concentrated in it. The original height of the pyramid of Cheops (Akhet-Hufu) was 146 meters, and the current height is 138. Its weight is more than 6 million tons.
For almost 4 thousand years this structure was the highest building in the world. Only at the beginning of the 14th century it was surpassed by the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Lincoln. Akhet-Hufu is the most grandiose construction of mankind after the Great Wall of China.
Akhet-Hufu was built according to the project of his nephew, the architect Chemion. According to the official version the construction was built by 100 thousand people during only 20 years. It is believed that they mined stone blocks in the rocks, floated them down the river or dragged them along a specially built road, and then lifted them to the top on embankments and wooden sledges. The ancient quarries have indeed preserved defective blocks, but the rest is difficult to call convincing. Anyway, 2.3 million granite and limestone blocks weighing from 2 to 30 tons were put together.
The three pyramids of Giza accurately reflect the location of the brightest stars in the constellation of Orion. Yes, scientists know that the ancient Egyptians associated this constellation with Osiris – the god of the afterlife. But how to explain that the top of Akhet-Khufu exactly points to the North Star, and the diagonal of one of the faces is directed along the meridian to the North Belt with an accuracy exceeding the capabilities of the modern Paris Astronomical Observatory. Moreover, the now existing minimum error was not present at all! After all, the North Pole had shifted in the time since it was built.
But the wonders of the Egyptian pyramids do not end there. The center of Akhet-Hufu divides exactly equally the surface of the earth’s land and oceans. Was this structure only a necropolis? Did a civilization that surpassed our own existed in these places and built the pyramids for purposes unknown to us? The mysteries of the pyramids are still waiting to be solved.
Ahet-Khufu has three burial chambers connected to the neighboring rooms. In the upper one there was a pharaoh’s tomb with an open sarcophagus. There was neither a mummy of the pharaoh nor any funerary accessories in the sarcophagus. It is supposed that the tomb was looted in antiquity. The entrance was originally higher. In the 9th century an Arab Caliph in search of treasure broke through a hole ten meters below. The modern entrance at a height of about 16 meters goes through it. The 40-meter-long low corridor is traversed by tourists crouching down.
There are three small pyramids around Akhet-Khufu, which are supposed to have been for the wives of the pharaoh. In the surrounding rocks were walled boats for the afterlife journeys of the pharaoh. One of them, the “Solar Boat”, discovered in 1954, is 43*5.5 meters in size and is exhibited in a museum of the same name near the pyramid.
The Pyramid of Chephren
Chephren reigned after Cheops, being his son or brother. The Pyramid of Chephren (Urt Haphra) is slightly smaller than the Great Pyramid, but visually appears larger. This effect is due to the fact that it is built on an elevation.
Associated with the Egyptian pyramids is a nearby grandiose sculpture of the Sphinx, a creature with a lion’s torso and a human head. It is believed to depict the facial features of Chephren. The largest monolithic sculpture on the planet is 73 meters long and 20 meters high, carved out of a monolithic rock. According to Egyptian mythology the sphinxes are guardian deities. The sculpture guarded Urt-Khafra, but was gradually covered with sand. According to legend, the Sphinx himself appealed to Thutmose IV with a request to free him from the sand, promising that he would become a pharaoh in return.
There are traces of erosion at the top of the Sphinx, indicating that water once almost covered the Sphinx. This forces us to attribute the date of its construction to much earlier times before the great flood. However, the same can be said of the pyramids. After all traces of moisture are found also in their bottom part.
The pyramid of Menkerin.
Ancient Greek historian Herodotus claimed that Meekerin was the son of Cheops. The pyramid of Micherin (Necheri-Menkaure) is essentially smaller than the other two, which devastated the resources of the state. Its height is 65 m. But a giant block of stone with a record weight of more than 200 tons was used in the construction of the Mikerina funeral temple. Necheri-Menkaura was unsuccessfully tried to destroy by Sultan al-Malik al-Aziz in the 12th century.
The pyramids of Giza are often visited independently by tourists on vacation in one of the Egyptian resorts. First, from there you need to get to Cairo. The easiest way to do this is on a plane with the local airline EgyptAir. With printed ticket you should go to the Domestic Airlines terminal at least 40 minutes before departure. Travel time is no more than one hour. If the purpose of your trip to Egypt is just the pyramids, you must pay 15000 RUR – 30000 RUR for the air ticket Moscow – Cairo.
At Cairo airport, of course, you can take a cab to the pyramids or the local hotel. But it is much cheaper to go to subway, bus or shuttle bus stop and from there to the pyramids. If you take the subway, get off at the Giza station. From there to the pyramids you can take any bus to Al-Ahram for 0,5 EGP – 1 EGP (Egyptian pounds). If a tourist is going to spend a few days in Cairo, it makes it a lot easier. A guided tour can be booked at any hotel.
The area is open to the public from 8 am to 16:30-17:00 hours, and in the holy month for Muslims Ramadan – until 3 pm. Entrance fee to the area is EGP 60. The entrance fee to Ahet-Hufa is EGP 100, Urt-Khafra is EGP 30, and Necheri-Menkaura is EGP 25. The small pyramids can be accessed with a zone entrance ticket. The Sun Rook Museum, on the other hand, has a separate ticket for EGP 50. Tickets are sold at 150 twice a day – at 8 and 1 p.m. at the ticket booths at the main entrance and the Sphinx. You can use the public restroom in the Sun Rook Museum building.
It is very hot, dry and dusty inside the pyramids, so asthmatics and heart patients are not recommended to enter them. It is forbidden to take photos inside. You must pay 1 EUR for a photo in the background. You can rent a camel to move around the area. However, this is not a cheap pleasure.
The best time to visit the pyramids is in the morning. And in the evenings there are three one-hour audio-visual shows. The starting times are at 20:30, 21:30, 22:30 in summer and at 18:30, 19:30, 20:30 in winter. On Sundays, one of the shows is accompanied by a Russian-language commentary.
Pyramid of Cheops (4th dynasty): base size – 230 m (height – 146.6 m) Pyramid of Chephren (4th dynasty): 215 m (144 m) Pink Pyramid, Snofru (IV dynasty): 219 m (105 m) Broken Pyramid, Snofru (IV dynasty): 189 m (105 m) Pyramid at Meidum, Snofru (IV dynasty): 144 m (94 m) Pyramid of Meikerin, (IV dynasty): 104.6 × 108.5 m (66 m) Pyramid of Djoser (3rd dynasty): 121 × 109 m (62 m)
Unsolved mysteries on our planet are becoming less and less every year. Constant improvement of technology, the cooperation of scientists from various fields of science reveals to us the secrets and mysteries of history. But the mysteries of the pyramids still defy comprehension – all discoveries give scientists only speculative answers to many questions. Who built the Egyptian pyramids, what was the technology of construction, whether there is a curse of the pharaohs – these and many other questions still remain unanswered.
Archaeologists speak of 118 pyramids in Egypt, partially or completely preserved to our time. Their ages range from 4 to 10 millennia. One of them, Cheops, is the only surviving “miracle” of the Seven Wonders of the World. The complex called the Great Pyramids at Giza, which includes the Cheops Pyramid, was also considered for the New Seven Wonders of the World competition, but it was removed from the competition because these majestic structures are actually the “wonder of the world” on the ancient list.
These pyramids have become the most visited sightseeing sites in Egypt. They are perfectly preserved, which can not be said about many other structures – time has not spared them. And the local residents have contributed to the destruction of the majestic necropolises, removing linings and breaking stones from the walls to build their houses.
Egyptian pyramids were built by pharaohs who ruled from the 27th century BC onwards. They were intended for the burial of the rulers. Huge scale of tombs (some of them are almost 150 meters high) had to testify about the greatness of the buried pharaohs, here were placed the things which the governor liked during his life and which would be useful to him in the afterlife.
Stone blocks of various sizes which were chiseled out of rocks were used for the constructions, and later bricks were used as a material for walls. Stone blocks were hewn and adjusted so that a knife blade could not slip between them. The blocks were stacked on top of each other with an offset of several centimeters, which formed the stepped surface of the construction. Almost all Egyptian pyramids have a square base, the sides of which are oriented strictly along the sides of the world.
As the pyramids fulfilled the same function, i.e. served as a burial place for pharaohs, their interior design and furnishings are similar. The main component is the burial hall, where the sarcophagus of the ruler was installed. The entrance was arranged not at ground level, but on some meters above, and was masked by facing slabs. From the entrance to the inner hall led stairs and passages-corridors, which were sometimes narrowed so much that it was only possible to squat or crawl along them.
In most necropolises, the burial halls (chambers) are below ground level. Ventilation was carried out through narrow shafts through which the walls are pierced. Rock paintings and ancient religious texts are found on the walls of many of the pyramids – in fact, scientists get some information about the construction and owners of the tombs from them.
The main mysteries
The list of unsolved mysteries begins with the form of the necropolises. Why was the shape of the pyramid chosen, which translates from Greek as “polyhedron”? Why were the facets clearly arranged along the sides of the world? How the huge stone blocks were moved from the place of excavation and how they were lifted to a great height? Were the buildings built by aliens or people who possessed a magical crystal?
Scientists even debate the question of who built such tall monumental structures that have stood for thousands of years. Some believe they were built by slaves who died by the hundreds of thousands in the construction of each. But new discoveries by archaeologists and anthropologists convince us that the builders were free people who were well fed and medically cared for. They drew such conclusions from the composition of the bones, the structure of the skeletons and the cured injuries of the buried builders.
All deaths and deaths of people involved in the study of the Egyptian pyramids were attributed to mystical coincidences, which provoked rumors and conversations about the curse of the pharaohs. There is no scientific evidence to support this. Perhaps the rumors were started to scare off thieves and looters who wanted to find valuable things and jewelry in the tombs.
Among the mysterious interesting facts is the short period of construction of the Egyptian pyramids. According to calculations, large necropolises at that level of technology had to be built in at least a century. How, for example, the pyramid of Cheops was built only for 20 years?
The Great Pyramids.
So called the funerary complex near the city of Giza, consisting of three large pyramids, a huge statue of the Sphinx and small satellite pyramids, probably intended for the wives of rulers.
The original height of the Cheops pyramid was 146 m, the side length was 230 m. Built in 20 years in the 26th century BC. the largest of the Egyptian sites has not one, but three funerary halls. One of them is below ground level and two are above the base line. Intertwining passages and corridors lead to the burial chambers. They lead to the chamber of the pharaoh (king), the chamber of the queen and the lower hall. Pharaoh’s chamber is a chamber of pink granite, has a size of 10×5 meters. It contains a granite sarcophagus without a lid. None of the reports of the scientists had any information about the mummies found, so it is unknown whether Cheops was buried here. By the way, the mummy of Cheops was not found in other tombs.
It is still a mystery whether the pyramid of Cheops was used for its intended purpose, and if so, it must have been looted by marauders back in the last centuries. The name of the ruler, by whose order and design this tomb was built, is learned from the drawings and hieroglyphs above the burial chamber. All other Egyptian pyramids, with the exception of Djoser, have a simpler engineering design.
The other two necropolises at Giza, built for the heirs of Cheops, are somewhat more modest in size:
- The Pyramid of Chephren is 143 meters high and has a side length of 215 meters. It is next to it that the famous Sphinx, known to the world by the photo, is located. Lying stone lion, which has a human face, guards the entrance to the tomb. The Sphinx size is 73×20 m.
- The Pyramid of Menkerin is 66 m high and 108 m long. A huge statue of the pharaoh was placed inside.
Tourists go to Giza from all over Egypt, because this city is actually a suburb of Cairo, and all the interchanges lead to it. Travelers from Russia usually go to Giza as part of tour groups from Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. The trip is long, 6-8 hours one way, so the tour is usually designed for 2 days.
The Great Structures are accessible to visitors only during working hours, usually until 5 pm, during the month of Ramadan until 3 pm. It is not recommended to go inside for asthmatics, as well as people suffering from claustrophobia, nervous and cardiovascular diseases. It is mandatory to bring drinking water and headgear on the tour. The fee for the tour consists of several parts:
- Entrance to the compound.
- Entrance inside the pyramid of Cheops or Chephren.
- Entrance to the museum of the Solar Rook, on which the body of the pharaoh was transported across the Nile.
Against the backdrop of the Egyptian pyramids, many people like to take pictures while sitting on camels. You can bargain with the owners of the camels.
Pyramid of Djoser
The first pyramid in the world is located in Saqqara, near Memphis, the former capital of ancient Egypt. Today, the pyramid of Djoser is not as attractive to tourists as the necropolis of Cheops, but at one time it was the largest in the country and the most complex by engineering design.
The funerary complex included chapels, courtyards, and vaults. The six-step pyramid itself has not a square base, but a rectangular one, with sides 125×110 m. The height of the structure is 60 m, there are 12 burial chambers inside it, where Djoser himself and members of his family were buried. Mummy of a pharaoh during the excavations could not be found. The entire territory of the complex in 15 hectares surrounded by a stone wall height of 10 meters. At the present time restored part of the wall and other buildings, and the pyramid, whose age is approaching 4700 years, preserved well enough.