The three pyramids of Giza come as the first item on your to-do list in Cairo, Egypt. We can see that right there. And this goes back to the history hidden inside this place along with those huge buildings built by the Pharaohs. Pharaohs built those pyramids to carry the bodies of their dead bodies along with their belongings – since they appreciated the afterlife and thought about building huge tombs that would fit them and their personal things. Let’s travel in time back to more than 7000 years ago and discover more about the secrets of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
What Are the Pyramids?
Egypt has around a hundred pyramids around its desert where the western bank of the Nile river is located. This is where the sunset occurs, but also where the soul moves towards the afterlife according to the ancient Egyptians (they believed it’s the direction of the afterlife). Among those pyramids stand the Great Pyramids of Giza, the oldest of the world’s seven wonders and the last remaining of them.
Khufu is the largest of them all, named after king Khufu. Khafraa is the middle pyramid. Then goes Mankure, the smallest pyramid, where the queen was buried. In front of the great pyramid, stands the gigantic sphinx statue, the protector of the pyramids with the body of a lion and the face of a human being. The great statue has been standing for thousands of years.
There is no way you’ve never heard about the Great Pyramids of Egypt, or seen them in pictures, videos, on postcards, or even on the tv. We all know the pyramids and probably know that pharaohs built them to be their last resting place after death. But have you ever asked yourself about the deep meaning or the symbolism behind the pyramids and why they were created in the first place?! Here are some secrets about the pyramids in ancient Egypt.
The Deep Meaning Behind the Pyramids
It is believed that there is a deeper symbolism behind the construction of the pyramids than just being burials. The theory is mainly based on the creation story in the Ancient Egyptian religion. In the beginning, there was a Nu (the infinite water) from which Benben (the primeval mound), and upon the sun rose “Atum” the source of all power gave birth to all other Gods, then by turn Gods created lands and humans.
The Benben, is the place where the earth was created and where the God Atum dwelled. The Benben is the stone on the top of a pyramid. As for the shape of the pyramid itself, it is believed to be representing the form of the sun rays coming down to earth.
The Pharaohs believed that they are the descendants of the Gods. And since Pharaohs were sons of Gods, they were buried in pyramids to represent the first creation and make their descent to the after-life in the protection of the sun rays.
The Relation between the Pyramids and the Stars
Some people actually believed that aliens built the pyramids. Some others believed that ancient Egyptians traveled to the outer space and learned how to build the pyramids. Well, both teams stories are a bit exaggerating. We don’t know for sure how much did the ancient Egyptians know about the secrets of the outer space. But we know for sure that they had a thing for astronomy and what lies in the outer space. Here is another interesting fact about the pyramids! Let us tell you that ancient Egyptians usually named their pyramids after solar luminescence. For instance, They called the Bent Pyramid in Dahshour “The Southern Shining Pyramid”.
Furthermore, most of the pharaohs created their pyramids with a shinning and immensely reflective white limestone on the outer layer. The purpose behind this was to give them a glowing appearance when seen from a distance. This was the case with one of the Great Pyramids of Giza, the great Khufu pyramid. The great pyramid was named “Ikhet”, which means “the glorious light”.
It was said that the pyramid was covered with a shining limestone so that with the reflection of the sun rays on it, it would look like a gigantic glimmering gem when viewed from a big distance. And, if you’re standing on the moon, the pyramid would’ve appeared as a glorious star. You’re probably trying to picture it, right?! Or maybe you wish you lived at this time to see how it looked like! Unfortunately due to the weather changes this layer no longer exists. Also, historians said that Arabs took these stones to build mosques.
Here is another connection between the pyramids and astronomy. Do you know the circumpolar star? It is this dark spot of the night sky around which the sun and the stars revolve (known as the diurnal motion). This spot was known to be the physical entrance to heavens. Surprised enough?!! We haven’t told you everything yet.
An interesting fact about the Great Pyramids of Giza is that the main burial chamber in the Khufu pyramid has a narrow shaft extending from it to the rest of the pyramid and pointing straight towards the circumpolar star. It’s believed that the great pyramid might have been designed to be the bridge where the soul of King Khufu would go directly to the doors of heavens.
The Pyramids Complex
Egypt almost has the greatest share of the world’s monuments. From the ancient Egyptian civilization to Coptic civilization, the Islamic world and more. But when someone mentions the word “Egypt” in front of you, there is a big possibility that the first thing will pop into your mind is the picture of the pyramids. This is mainly because the Great Pyramids of Giza are the face of the Egyptian civilization and the most important of its monuments.
The Great Pyramids of Giza, or as they’re called The Giza Pyramid Complex, is located on the outer area of the capital, Cairo. The spot is also called “The Giza necropolis”, this is because there is more to the location than just the three pyramids. The spot is home to the great pyramids of Giza: Khufu (Cheops) pyramid, Khafre (Chepren) pyramid, and Menkaure (Mykerinos) pyramid. It’s also home to the great sphinx, many cemeteries, and industrial complex and a workers’ village. Other important monuments at the Giza necropolis are the small satellite edifices which are known as the valley pyramids, “queens” pyramids, and causeways.
The Great Pyramid, or King Khufu’s Pyramid, or Cheops Pyramid, included a valley temple. The valley temple is now lying beneath Nazlet El Samman village. The site where the valley temple is buried has not been excavated yet. Only paving made of basalt and walls of nummulitic limestone has been found. Originally, the valley temple was linked to one of the causeways, but the causeway was destroyed during the construction of Nazlet El-Samman village.
This causeway was reaching to the Mortuary Temple of King Khufu. The temple has also been destroyed by time, and a basalt pavement is the only things that are still remaining from it. The Mortuary Temple by turn was linked to the great pyramid. Most noteworthy, the great pyramid has three small queen’s pyramids related to it in addition to five boat holes. The boat holes actually had a ship placed in them. There are two holes on the southern part of the pyramid that have complete ships, one of these ships has been brought back and put on display.
Who is King Khufu?
The Construction of the Great Pyramid
The great pyramid of Khufu was built in the 4th dynasty. The pyramid is currently around 138 meters tall. But when Hemon, the grand architect designed the pyramid, it was 280 Egyptian royal cubits tall, which means it was around 146.6 meters. The mass of the pyramid is estimated to be around 6 million tons with an approximate volume of 2 million and half a million cubic meters.
Each base side was 440 royal cubits, with each royal cubit measuring 0.524 meters. That made it the tallest man-created building in ancient history for around 4000 years. The amazing part about this man-created construction is that it was created with little technology but with lots of innovation and brilliance in the design and the construction process.
It took 20 years to get it finished and hundreds of men working each day non-stop till the year 2560 BC. The Greeks believed that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids through slavery. But now the Egyptologists confirms that those workers were either paid with salaries or deduction of taxes.
The stones were brought from nearby quarries to construct to inner layers of the Pyramid, but the outer layer needed special smooth stones were brought from the South of Egypt through the Nile river. And on the top, a special stone covered in gold was put to represent the Benben. Sadly through time, the pyramid has lost the outer layer due to environmental causes and time damage. The layer we can see now is actually the internal layer.
Interior Design of the Pyramid
Let’s take a closer a tour inside this great Pyramid! Starting with the original entrance north of the pyramid, it is around 17 meters high above the ground. Then moving to the descending passage which goes through the pyramid to the bedrock and then we continue to the lower chamber where we can see it’s not finished. Egyptologists believe the chamber is not finished because it was meant to be the original King’s chamber but he had a change of heart and decided to be buried in a higher level.
On the roof of the descending passage there is a square hole which was originally concealed by a stone, here starts the ascending passage, which is as high and wide as the descending passage. It also it slops at the same angle – not enough wonders – to the grand gallery.
The roof of the grand gallery consists of slabs of stone placed at a rather steeper angle than the floor of the gallery so that each stone fits into an opening cut in the top of the gallery like a tooth. As for the upper right corner, there’s a short tunnel to one of the chambers, and if we continued at the start point of the grand gallery we’ll find a horizontal Passage leading to the “Queen’s Chamber”. The Queen’s Chamber is exactly halfway between the north and south faces of the pyramid. Even though there is a chamber for the Queen inside the pyramid, archeologists suggest that it’s not where the queen is buried.