The ‘Pyramids of Giza’ are one of the most popular monuments in the world which have been serving as informal insignia of Egypt for past several decades. The ‘Pyramids of Giza’ are the part of Egypt’s ancient archeological site on the ‘Giza’ plateau, known as the ‘Giza Necropolis’. The ‘Giza Necropolis’ is situated some 25 km southwest of the Egyptian capital city of ‘Cairo’.
Three massive Pyramids, often referred as the ‘The Great Pyramids’ & a limestone statue of ‘Sphinx’, which consists of a mythical creature featuring lion’s body & human head are the most important monuments of the ‘Giza Necropolis’. The magnificent ‘Great Pyramids’ are the oldest members of the family of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ & the only one in existence.
The ‘Pyramid of Khufu’ is the largest & the oldest of three & remained as the ‘Tallest man-made structure’ in the world, even in the early 19th century, when it was more than 3800 years of age! The study reveals that the pyramids were built as tombs & the work is regarded to the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaohs.
The three pyramids were dedicated to three different individuals; the largest one was dedicated to the ‘Pharaoh Khufu’ whereas; the other two were meant for Khufu’s son, Khafre & Khafre’s son Menkaura, respectively. The other parts of the ‘Giza Necropolis’ are occupied by setting of several buildings, including two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, three smaller pyramids of Khufu’s wives, several cemeteries & the ‘Great Sphinx’.
- Pyramid of Khufu (2575-2566 BC):
‘Khufu’s Pyramid’ is the largest & the oldest of all & took 20 years for the completion. The pyramid is an extraordinary engineering marvel & it remained as an awe-inspiring structure for modern day engineers as well as mathematicians for several years. The pyramid was built using estimated 2.3 million stone blocks & the average weight of every block is 2 to 2.5 tons. Each side of the base is 755 feet in length & the faces rise up making an angle of 51052’ & meets at the height 481 feet. In the beginning era, the ‘Great Pyramid’ was draped in smooth sandstone casing & it is speculated that the apex of the pyramid was capped by a gilded capstone.
The pyramid houses three burial chambers. The first chamber is underground & was carved into bedrock. The second is above the ground & is known as ‘Queen’s Chamber’, although, as per the speculations, it was never meant for Khufu’s wife. The third chamber is the largest one dedicated to the King which resides almost at the center of the pyramid. The ‘King’s Chamber’ is accessible via a 26-feet high ‘Grand Gallery’, which had the mechanism of sealing in order to save the chamber from the notorious thieves. The ‘King’s Chamber’ is decorated using the granite & it now houses only rectangular granite ‘Sarcophagus’.
It is estimated that 8,000 tonnes of granite, 5.5 million tones of limestone & 500,000 tonnes of mortar were used for the construction of this ‘Great Pyramid’!
- Pyramid of Khafre (2558-2532 BC):
‘Khafre’s Pyramid’ is situated in between the two giant pyramids & appears to be taller than his father’s tomb. However, its taller appearance is an illusion as it was built on a tall podium & its walls are relatively steeper than the first pyramid. It is smaller in height & volume than the ‘Khufu’s Pyramid’ as its height reaches to only 447.5 feet. ‘Khafre’s Pyramid’ retains notable stone cladding at its apex which provides the basis for envisaging the actual appearance of the pyramids immediately after the culmination of its construction. The burial chamber of the pyramid holds a small ditch in the floor, which was supposedly holding the first ‘Canopic chest’ in the pyramid.
‘Khafre’s Pyramid’ is surrounded by many artistic constructions boasting classical features of the ancient ‘Egyptian Architecture’. The storage chambers, entrance hall, colonnaded courtyard & several other temples can be found outside this pyramid.
The colossal statue of the ‘Great Sphinx’ present right in front of the pyramid is the most staggering monument in the pyramid complex. This 66 feet high & 240 feet long statue was supposedly carved from the left over part of the bedrock that was used for quarrying the limestone used in the ‘Khufu’s Pyramid’. The statue represents ‘Ra-Harakhte’, the ‘Sun God’ & consists of the lion’s body featuring the human face. The face given to the ‘Sphinx’ portrays the face of ‘Khafre’. Today, the magnificent ‘Sphinx’ is in bad shape due to erosion as well as due to deliberate vandalizing by various invaders. The legions of ‘Napoleon’ are accused of breaking its nose as they used this massive statue for target practice.
- Pyramid of Menkaure: (2530-2512 BC)
The ‘Pyramid of Menkaure’ is the smallest of the three & its complex consists of a ‘Valley Temple’, a mortuary temple & a causeway. With the original height of 215 feet, it now stands 204 feet tall. The base is 108.5 m. in length & the faces are inclined approximately at 510 20’. The lower part of the pyramid is laid in red granite while the rest of the pyramid was completed using the limestone. Although this pyramid is much smaller than the earlier forms, the mortuary temple of ‘Menkaure’ was much more elaborated than his ancestors. The king’s pyramid has three smaller or ‘Queen’s pyramid’ right next to it, none of which appeared to be completed.
Although the successive Emperors didn’t stop erecting their ceremonial tombs till the end of their dynasty, none of the Pharaohs after Khufu did manage to build anything as massive as he did; the mammoth constructions at ‘Giza’ remained a constructional mystery & technical marvel for several centuries. The colossal pyramids at ‘Giza’ may have got deteriorated due to successive mutilation; they still stand proudly in the barren land of ‘Giza’, boasting the opulence of the Empires & the technical prowess of the ancient Egyptian architects. These imposing monuments are true identity of Egypt & the testimony of the glory of ancient Egypt!