The Great Pyramids of Giza

The Great Pyramid is located in the Giza complex, close to the Nile river in Egypt. It was the first pyramid in the Giza complex to be built, with construction starting at circa 2550 BCE and ending at about 2530 BCE. These pyramids were built before the wheel, so it would have taken shorter had it been built now. It was built in an era with so little technology, it is almost a miracle that it was built. At the time, the Great Pyramid was the biggest structure in the world. It stayed the biggest for over 3800 years until it was surpassed by the Lincoln Cathedral in England in 1311 AD.

The Great Pyramid was built by the pharaoh Khufu. He was the second Pharaoh of the fourth dynasty and ruled for at least 20 years, but historians and Egyptologists are unsure exactly how long his reign was. The ancient Greeks credited him with a reign of 63 years, but ancient historians were known to exaggerate, at least slightly. Not much is known about Khufu, but according to ancient Greek historian Herodotus, he was a cruel tyrant who forced everyone to work for him. He closed all of the temples because he didn’t agree with the priests. For the next several decades, he forced almost all ancient Egyptians into labor building the pyramids. 

Almost all historians and Egyptologists agree that the Great Pyramids were built by the ancient Egyptians, but a new theory suggests that theory is incorrect. A rising theory is that the ancient Egyptians were merely slaves, and aliens designed the pyramids. While this theory currently has little to no proof, it is still widely believed. This theory became even more widespread when Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk stated that the pyramids were “obviously” built by aliens. An Egyptian high official shortly commented saying that he invited him to come and visit the pyramids and receive a guided tour of them. Musk received much criticism from historians and Egyptologists, who claimed it was just a ridiculous popularity stunt.

The Great Pyramid has been questioned because people don’t know how significant the pyramids were in ancient Egyptian culture, and how they fit into their set of beliefs. They believed that their pharaohs were gods, following the common polytheistic beliefs at the time. Their pharaohs would spend most of their reign creating a pyramid for themselves so that they could spend their afterlife among the stars. The pyramid shape was important, their astrological practices were interconnected with their religion. In ancient times, the pyramids had a shining cone on top. When the pyramids were looted thousands of years later, the pyramids’ most expensive material was picked off and used. 

When the pharaoh died, he or she was mummified, then placed inside of the pyramid in a coffin studded with precious metals and gems. The ancient Egyptians believed that the body was carried up the pyramid into the stars, where the pharaoh would stay permanently. The pyramids had to have all of the pharaoh’s belongings so that the pharaoh would have a good afterlife. The pyramid was the most important part of ancient Egyptian culture, so while they were big and extremely expensive, it was worth it to them.

Building the Great Pyramid was one of the most difficult construction projects in the world. It was made of an estimated 2.3 million blocks that took hours to chisel. Historian John Romer believes that the ancient Egyptians created 15 foot, 140 kilograms “super saws” that were operated by a dozen men and were used to cut big stones. These stones were limestone and were hauled miles to the pyramids. Originally, the outside of the pyramids was covered in white limestone. which gave them a polished touch. After an earthquake thousands of years later, the white limestones were loose and then taken away to use for other building projects or sold.

The pyramids had three main rooms: the Subterranean chamber, which was located underground, the King’s chamber, and the Queen’s chamber. Connecting these were many tunnels inside of the pyramids. These contained thousands of artifacts before they were looted, but are now left with little objects. In the King’s chamber, the only remaining object is the sarcophagus, and the top had been broken off of and the contents were looted. 

Many Greek philosophers and historians wrote penned records that historians and archaeologists now have, but the accuracy of these documents is largely unknown. Some of these documents are anonymous, making it even harder for historians.

The Great Pyramid was a monumental structure, and it represented the ability of ancient civilizations at the time. In conclusion, it was not only an achievement for ancient Egypt but an achievement for human society at the time. Thousands of people banded together to build such a big building, and it shows the amount of organization during the Iron age. It is inspiring to think that if the ancient Egyptians could build the Great Pyramid in the Iron age, just think about what we could do now.

Sources:

Handwerk, Brian. nationalgeographic.com. National Geographic Society, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/giza-pyramids.

Adam Augustyn, Adam Zeidan, Alicja Zelazko, Alison Eldridge, Amy McKenna, Amy Tikkanen, Ann Gadzikowski, Barbara A. Schreiber, Brian Duignan, Deepti Mahajan, Dutta Promeet, Emily Goldstein, Emily Rodriguez, Erik Gregersen, Gaurav Shukla, Gita Liesangthem, Gloria Lotha, Grace Young, J.E. Luebering, Jeff Wallenfeldt, Joan Hibler, John P. Rafferty, Kanchan Gupta, Kara Rogers, Kenny Chmielewski, Kokila Manchanda, Kurt Heintz, Laura Chaveriat, Letricia Dixon, Meg Matthias, Melissa Petruzzello, Michael Ray, Michele Metych, Patrick Riley, Piyush Bhathya, Sheila Vasich, Sherman Hollar, Shiveta Singh, Shweta Gupta, Stephen Seddon, The Information Architects of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Veenu Setia, and World Data Editors. britannics.com. Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/editor/The-Editors-of-Encyclopaedia-Britannica/4419

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