The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis in Egypt. This awesome structure is the oldest of the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World dating back to around 2500 BCE and is the only Wonder to remain largely intact. The Great Pyramid was the world’s tallest man-made struture for nearly 4000 years and is believed to have been built for the fourth Dynasty Pharoah Khufu.
What is seen of the Great Pyramid today is mearly the underlying core structure however some of the casing stones that once formed the smooth outer surface of the pyrmaid can still be seen around the base. It is easy to imagine the beauty of this fear-inspiring strucure in Ancient times when it would have shone like a star in the Saharan sun.
There have been many theories as to the construction techniques used in the building of the Great Pyramid. It is widely accepted however, that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place. Khufu’s vizier, Hemon, is believed by some to be the architect of the Great Pyramid. The mass of the pyramid is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes. The volume, including an internal hillock, is roughly 2,500,000 cubic meters. Based on these estimates, building this in 20 years would involve installing approximately 800 tonnes of stone every day. Alternatively, looking at the construction from another angle, since the Great Pyramid consists of an estimated 2.3 million blocks, completing the building in 20 years would involve moving little more than 12 of the blocks in place each hour, day and night, during the 20 year period.
The Greeks believed that slave labour was used, but modern Egyptologists accept that it was built by many tens of thousands of skilled workers. They camped near the pyramids and worked for a salary or as a form of paying taxes until the construction was completed. Their cemeteries were discovered in 1990 by archaeologists Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner. Verner posited that the labor was organized into a hierarchy, consisting of two gangs of 100,000 men, divided into five zaa or phyle of 20,000 men each, which may have been further divided according to the skills of the workers.
Today, the Great Pyramid is entered via Robbers’ Tunnel that was dug by workmen under the employment of Caliph al-Ma’mun in around 820 CE. The tunnel is cut straight through the masonry of the pyramid for approximately 27m, then turns sharply left to encounter the blocking stones in the Ascending Passage. However the workmen were able to dig alongside the Ascending Passage through the softer Limestone until they reached the Ascendung Passage.
There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The Queens’s Chamber and King’s Chamber, as they are now known, are higher up in the structure. The Great Pyramid is the only Pyramid in Egypt known to have both ascending and descending passages, however, access is not permitted to the descending passage.
Every remarkable detail of the Great Pyramid Of Giza, from it’s massive size and impression on the landscape, to the advanced methods used during construction, contribute to this massive structure earning the right to be known as a Wonder Of The Ancient World.