The Pyramid of Khufu stands at a towering height of 138.5 metres. Located in the Giza pyramid complex, this oldest and largest pyramid has astounded people through centuries. This marvel constitutes a part of the Seven wonders of the ancient world.
The Ancient Egyptians built the pyramid of Cheops on a rocky plateau located on the west bank of the Nile River near Giza in Northern Egypt. Along with the pyramids of Khafre and Menkaure, it forms the prominent part of the Giza pyramid complex.
Location of Khufu Pyramid
Why Ancient Egyptians built the pyramid of Khufu?
The Ancient Egyptians built this oldest and northernmost pyramid was for Khufu, the second king of the fourth dynasty. The pyramid stands as one of the most majestic structures of Ancient Egypt.
Moreover, this grand structure is a testament to the power and grandeur of King Khufu. Initially, at the height of 146.5 metres, the pyramid houses the tomb of the pharaoh.
Who was King Khufu?
King Khufu, or King Cheops, was an ancient monarch who ruled ancient Egypt from 2589-2566 BC. The pharaoh of the fourth dynasty succeeded his father, Sneferu. Most of the information about Khufu comes from the inscriptions in his necropolis at Giza. Accounts of Herodotus reveal the pharaoh as a strict ruler with a heavy hand.
History of the Pyramid of Khufu
Herodotus was one of the first prominent authors to mention the pyramid of Khufu. He noted that the construction of the pyramid required 100,000 labourers who worked in three-month shifts. This entire construction took about 20 years to build.
Construction of this Marvel
The construction of this colossal pyramid required approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone. Subsequently, the Ancient engineers cut these stones, transported and finally assembled them to form the 5.75 million ton monument.
Therefore, the pyramid appears genuinely as a masterpiece of engineering skills and technical abilities. Moreover, the remaining outer casing and internal walls display more delicate joints than other existing masonry structures from ancient Egypt.
The ancient workers quarried the white limestone used for the original casing from Tura. Subsequently, it got transported via the Nile River. However, the granite stones that constitute the pyramid originate from Aswan. The roof of the King’s chamber is formed by the heaviest blocks weighing around 25 to 80 tonnes.
Firstly, workers hammered grooves into natural stone faces to cut them into rough blocks. Then, they inserted water-soaked wooden wedges into these grooves. Accordingly, the wedges absorbed the water and expanded. Like this, these workers managed to break the stones into workable chunks.
Dimensions of the pyramid
The pyramid once stood at 481 feet, forming the tallest artificial structure for nearly 3,800 years. Since then, they ultimately stripped the outer casing of the pyramid. Therefore, now the pyramid stands at the height of 454.4 ft. With a base of 230.3 metres square, the structure has a volume of about 2.6 million cubic metres.
This colossal structure has steep sides angulated at 51°52′. Accordingly, the sides are facing the four cardinal points of a compass. The monument’s core consists of beautiful yellowish limestone blocks. The Ancient builders composed the inner passage and outer casing of a more refined light coloured limestone. In contrast, the interior burial chamber consists of large blocks of granite.
There was a need to quarry around 2.3 million large blocks to build this monument. Moreover, this weighed at a total of nearly 6 million tonnes. The Pyramid of Khufu is nothing short of a true marvel.
Interior of the Pyramid
We can find the entrance to this marvel at the north side of the pyramid. It stands at 59 feet above ground level. The gate opens into a sloping corridor that penetrates the rocky soil. Finally, it ends in an unfinished underground chamber.
From this descending corridor, several ascending corridors branch out. Subsequently, they lead to the Queen’s chamber and a big slanting gallery around 152 feet in height.
From this chamber, a long passage opens into the burial room proper. Ancient engineers entirely lined the King’s Chamber and roofed it of granite.
Moreover, this room contains two narrow shafts that run obliquely through the mausoleum. These shafts open to the exterior of the structure. Historians think that the ancient Egyptians used the sticks for ventilation or perhaps a religious reasons.
Horizontal granite slabs separate the five compartments found above the King’s chamber. Most likely, these massive slabs ensured the diversion of the immense thrust of the overlying masses of masonry away.
How did Ancient Egyptians build the pyramid?
Historians have dwelled on this question for a very long time. However, a satisfactory answer still eludes us. Most probably, the Egyptians used a sloping and encircling barrier of sand, brick and earth.
Subsequently, as the pyramid rose, builders increased this basic structure in height and length. Moreover, they heaved the stone blocks up the ramps utilising rollers, sledges and levers.
Furthermore, historians assumed that the workforce employed for the pyramid were essentially agricultural labourers. They perhaps worked on the pyramid when the Nile river was in flood. Hence, leaving the agriculturers with little work in the field.
However, historians concluded that as few as 20,000 workers were adequate for the task by the twentieth century.
A pyramid temple that stood on the east side of the structure has almost entirely disappeared with time. Black basalt paving is the only remnant of the temple. Unfortunately, the valley temple lies under the village of Nazlet el-Samman, which remains not excavated.
The Pyramid of Khufu remains one of the biggest enigmas of Ancient Egyptian history. This majestic structure has surpassed the weather changes over time. It stands tall as a testament to the power and glory of Ancient Egypt. The Pyramid of Khufu provided Historians with a plethora of information in the lives of old Egypt. Hence, today, tourists visit the Pyramid of Giza with awe to get a glimpse of the past.