The Pyramids of Giza.

One of the most familiar landmarks of the Egyptian landscape, the Giza Plateau, is home to three impressive pyramids built in the ancient world. These grand pyramids of Giza were not just locally famous, but internationally as well.

The Great Pyramid of Giza.

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it's height, volume and weight is staggering even by today's standard.

It's design had purpose and style. In its heyday, there would have been nothing to compete with its brilliance.

Khufu's dream.

Whether the pharaoh, Khufu, was a mean despot, or a fair and decent ruler, may never be known. One thing is for sure; he knew how to get a pyramid built. And not just any pyramid.

The Great Pyramid of Giza has some impressive stats.

It is believed to have had in its prime:

A height of about 146 metres tall. This made it the tallest building in the world for four thousand years.

A base that covered 53,000 square metres. It is only minutely off being a perfect square.

2.4 million blocks that were used in construction. The blocks weighed two to four tonnes on average.

A Total mass estimated at 5.9 million tonnes.

A volume of 2,600,000 cubic metres.

What's Inside?

Khufu's great pyramid contains a multitude of chambers and passageways.

There are three main chambers:

* The king's chamber. It is at the end of a long series of passageways and its measurements are 5.25 m x 10.5 m x 6 m. A sarcophagus was found inside the King's chamber but no body was inside. There are doubts as to whether the sarcophagus was intended to house a body at all.

* The queens chamber. It measures 5.74 by 5.23 metres, and is 4.57 metres in height. It is the middle chamber. And like the king's chamber above it, no body has ever been recovered.

* Unknown chamber. This one is at the bottom. It appears to be unfinished. It was not created with the same precision as the others and is rough-cut. This may be because of a change of mind. Perhaps Khufu wanted to be placed higher in the pyramid and the chamber was abandoned.

How long?

Such a massive undertaking, without the aid of machinery, would have taken some time. There are differing views and equations as to the time and workforce required to complete the great pyramid.

If the Great Pyramid of Giza took about twenty years to build, 5th century historian, Herodotus the Greek, estimated a workforce of one hundred thousand to complete the task in that time.

According to the BBC documentary, Building the Great Pyramid, there were divisions of labour involved in the construction of Khufu's centrepiece of the pyramids of Giza.

Shifting the heavy stones would have taken gangs of men dragging them on sleds. Quarrymen cut out the blocks. Well trained stone masons finished the stones on the face to a high-polished shine.

The whole process was extremely well organized.

Other Pyramids.

Khufu's son Khafre constructed the second largest pyramid of the Giza complex. Possibly attempting to go higher than Khufu, he did cheat a little. Built on a bedrock 10m higher than Khufu's Pyramid, Khafre's, appears taller, but is actually smaller.

Menkaure's pyramid sits south west of Khufu's and is the smallest of the three pyramids on the Giza Plateau at sixty two metres tall.

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