Unsolved mysteries on our planet are getting smaller every year. The 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 the square basis which sides are focused strictly to parts of the world.
As the pyramids fulfilled the same function, that is served as a place of burial of pharaohs, their interior design and decoration are similar. The main component is the funerary hall where the sarcophagus of the governor was established. 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 sometimes were so narrow 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 necropolises. Why was the form of a 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 looters in past 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 transport 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.
The 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 Cheops necropolis, 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.
The pyramid of Pharaoh Cheops and the history of the Egyptian pyramids
The first wonder of the world of all times, one of the main constructions of our planet, a place full of mysteries and riddles, a point of constant pilgrimage of tourists – the Egyptian pyramids and in particular the pyramid of Cheops. Construction of the giant pyramids, of course, was not an easy job. Huge efforts of a large number of people were made in order to deliver the stone blocks to the Giza plateau or Saqqara, and later to the Valley of the Kings, which became the new necropolis of the pharaohs. At the moment there are about a hundred pyramids found in Egypt, but the discoveries are continuing and their number is constantly increasing. At different times different pyramids were understood under one of the 7 wonders of the world. Some meant all the pyramids of Egypt as a whole, some meant the pyramids near Memphis, some meant the three major pyramids of Giza, and the most critical ones recognized exclusively the largest pyramid of Cheops.
The Afterlife of Ancient Egypt
One of the central points in the life of the ancient Egyptians was religion, which shaped the culture as a whole. Particular attention was paid to the afterlife, perceived as a clear continuation of life on earth. That is why preparations for life after death began long before it, was set as one of the main tasks of life.
According to the ancient Egyptian belief, man had several souls. The soul of Ka acted as the double of the Egyptian he was to meet in the afterlife. The soul of Ba communicated with the man himself, and left his body after death. At first, it was believed that only the pharaoh had the right to life after death, but he could grant this “immortality” to his entourage, who were usually buried next to the tomb of the lord. Ordinary people were not destined to enter the world of the dead, the only exceptions were slaves and servants, whom the pharaoh “took” with him, and who were depicted on the walls of the great tomb.
But for a comfortable life after death, the deceased had to be supplied with everything necessary: food, household utensils, servants, slaves, and many other things necessary for the average pharaoh. They also tried to preserve the body so that the soul of Ba could later rejoin it. So in matters of preserving the body, embalming and the creation of elaborate pyramid tombs were born.
The first pyramid in Egypt. Djoser’s Pyramid
Speaking about the construction of pyramids in ancient Egypt in general, it is worth mentioning the beginning of their history. The very first pyramid in Egypt was built about five thousand years ago at the initiative of Pharaoh Djoser. It is in these five millennia and estimated the age of the pyramids in Egypt. The construction of the pyramid of Djoser was led by the famous and legendary Imhotep, who in later centuries was even deified.
The entire complex of the structure to be erected occupied an area of 545 by 278 meters. By perimeter it was surrounded by a 10-meter wall with 14 gates, only one of which was real. In the center of the complex was the pyramid of Djoser with sides 118 by 140 meters. The height of the Djoser pyramid was 60 meters. Almost 30-meter deep there was a burial chamber to which corridors with many branches led. In the rooms of branches utensils and sacrifices were stored. Archaeologists found three bas-reliefs of Pharaoh Djoser. Near the eastern wall of the pyramid of Djoser 11 small burial chambers were found intended for the royal family.Unlike the famous large pyramids of Giza, the pyramid of Djoser had a stepped shape, as if intended for the ascent of the pharaoh to heaven. Of course, this pyramid is inferior in fame and size to the pyramid of Cheops, but it is difficult to overestimate the contribution of the first stone pyramid to Egyptian culture. Pyramid of Cheops. History and short description
But still the three pyramids of Egypt – Chephren, Mekerin, and the largest and tallest pyramid in Egypt – Cheops (Khufu) are most famous for the ordinary people of our planet.
Pharaoh Cheops’ pyramid was built near the city of Giza, now a suburb of Cairo. When the pyramid of Cheops was built, it is impossible to say for sure at this time, and studies give a strong variation. In Egypt, for example, the date of the beginning of construction of this pyramid is officially celebrated – August 23, 2480 BC.
At the construction of the wonder of the world the pyramid of Cheops at the same time were involved about 100,000 people. During the first ten years of work the road by which huge stone blocks were delivered to the river and underground constructions of the pyramid was built. Work on the monument itself continued for another 20 years.
The size of the pyramid of Cheops at Giza is astonishing. The height of the Cheops pyramid originally reached 147 meters. Over time, because it was filled with sands and lost its facing, it was reduced to 137 meters. But even this figure allowed it for a long time to remain the tallest human structure in the world. The pyramid has a square base with a side of 147 meters. It took an estimated 2,300,000 limestone blocks weighing an average of 2.5 tons to build this giant.
How were the pyramids built in Egypt?
The technology of building the pyramids is controversial even nowadays. Versions vary from the invention of concrete in ancient Egypt to the construction of the pyramids by aliens. But still it is believed that the pyramids were built by man solely by his own strength. So for the extraction of stone blocks at first a shape was marked in the rock, grooves were hollowed out and dry wood was inserted into them. Later the wood was doused with water, it expanded, a crack was formed in the rock and the block was separated. It was then machined to the desired shape with tools and sent along the river to the construction site.
To lift the blocks up, the Egyptians used gently sloping embankments on which they dragged these megaliths on wooden sledges. But even with such backward technology by our standards, the quality of work is amazing – the blocks fit together tightly with minimal discrepancies.
One can speak at length about the pyramids shrouded in myths and legends, their labyrinths and traps, mummies and treasures, but let us leave all this to Egyptologists. For us the Cheops pyramid is one of the greatest constructions of mankind for all time of its existence and certainly the only surviving first wonder of the world from the depths of centuries.