The great Seven Wonders of the World-the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Statue of Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, etc. Everyone knows about them. But only one “miracle” of these seven has survived. This mysterious Egyptian pyramids, the age of which is more than 4,500 years. The Egyptian pyramids are the greatest architectural monuments of ancient Egypt, among which is one of the “seven wonders of the world” the pyramid of Cheops. The pyramids are huge pyramid-shaped stone structures used as tombs for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The word “pyramid” is Greek. According to some researchers, a large pile of wheat was the prototype of the pyramid. According to other scholars, the word came from the name of a pyramid-shaped funeral pie. A total of 118 pyramids have been discovered in Egypt.
The pyramids are astonishing in their grandeur. They fascinate with their mysteries and riddles. There are endless speculations about the creation of the Egyptian pyramids.
The pyramids of Egypt are one of the wonders of the world. And no wonder. Even the thought that people with the help of only primitive mechanical devices have constructed similar huge objects (pyramids) admires and will continue to admire us. Even though thousands of years have passed since the Egyptian pyramids were built.
Looking at these marvelous monuments of the era, one gets the impression that time is bypassing them, or maybe it was the magic of the sphinx that stopped it, glorifying the greatness of the pharaoh. There is an assumption that the roots of the civilization which created the pyramids are much older. Especially brave even assume that the aliens built the Egyptian pyramids.
There are a lot of versions about the purpose of the pyramids. The most ancient of them is the tomb of pharaohs. But in addition, there are hypotheses that the Egyptian pyramids are a model of the starry sky. That the pyramids were created even before the pharaohs. Through the implementation of certain architectural works, thereby hiding more ancient buildings, the Egyptian pyramids were adapted to the needs of the pharaohs.
Yet it is generally accepted that the pyramids were built of stone blocks of limestone with smoothly polished sides. Each block weighs on the average 2.5 tons.
The pyramids of Egypt were built using muscle power. On the right bank of the Nile, in quarries near Memphis, thousands of people mined limestone.
To lift the blocks, the Egyptians built an inclined embankment of bricks and stone at an angle of 15o. As the pyramid was being built, the embankment was lengthened. After the construction was finished, the embankment was torn down and leveled. Cubic blocks were put on each other, and step constructions turned out. Such we see them nowadays. Originally the Egyptian pyramids had ideally smooth surfaces of all their four sides as on each of “steps” the three-sided prismatic block of white mokatamsky limestone was stacked.
The quality of the work of these builders, who lived forty-seven centuries ago, was such that the mismatches of the horizontal and vertical lines of the pyramid did not exceed the width of a thumb. Stones were so tightly fitted one to another that it is impossible to stick even a needle between them.
The sight of pyramids standing on the edge of the huge desert makes indelible impression on the person of our time as well. The original height of Cheops (Khufu) pyramid was 146,59 m, Chephren – 143,5 m, Mikerin – 66,5 m. Today the Cheops pyramid rises only 137 m above the desert, the Chephren pyramid is 136.6 m.
Location and features of the structure of the Egyptian pyramids
The pyramids stand in the ancient cemetery at Giza, which is on the opposite bank of the Nile from Cairo (the capital of modern Egypt).
Scientists note that all during the Ancient Egyptian Kingdom was built more than 80 pyramids, but only a small portion has reached us. The pyramids that have survived are the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Menkerin (they also have Egyptian names – Khufu, Khafra and Menkaur). The legendary Seven Wonders of the World formally includes only the first of this list. However, all of them are mysterious and majestic.
The sight of these structures is impressive. They are clearly outlined against the blue sky and dark yellow sand. You notice them from afar, hours before you get close to them. For any giant pyramid, they evoke a sacred awe. They seem something cosmic, it is difficult to believe that man had anything to do with their construction at all.
The main pyramid is the pyramid of Cheops (Khufu). Each side of the base has a length of 233 m. The pyramid height is 147 m. The area of the pyramid is more than 50 thousand square meters. Its internal premises occupy a very small volume – no more than 4% of the total area.
Until the middle of the 19th century the Cheops pyramid was considered the largest building on our planet. According to Napoleon’s calculations, the stone blocks from the three pyramids of Giza would be enough to encircle all of France with a wall three meters high and 30 centimeters thick.
All sides are almost symmetrical – such precision is amazing. The pyramid consists of 2,500,000 huge blocks, each weighing at least two tons; the heaviest block weighs 15 tons. The architect of this pyramid is known – the Egyptian Chemuin.
Many misunderstandings arise because of the layout of the inner corridors and the so-called “main king’s chamber” with the empty sarcophagus of the Cheops pyramid. As it is known, from this room a narrow passageway – ventilation duct – leads outside at an angle, and above the chamber there are several empty unloading rooms, built to reduce a huge pressure of stone mass. One of the mysteries, for example, is the location of the main room – it is not on the central axis, as in all the tombs, but tilted to the side.
The pyramid of Khafr (Chefren) is almost equal to the pyramid of Cheops. It is slightly smaller – 215 meters long and 143 wide, but because it is located on steeper slopes, it appears larger. Chephren, son of Cheops, is buried there.
Not far from this pyramid is the legendary Great Sphinx, which is also part of the burial complex. The size of the figure is not insignificant: its height is 20 meters, and its length is 57 meters. Carved from a single piece of rock the figure depicts lying lion with a human head.
The pyramid of Khufuso has reached our time in good condition in comparison with other pyramids: it is the only one that has kept the lime facing on its top.
The pyramid of Menkaure (Mikerina) is the smallest of the legendary pyramids. It is almost 10 times smaller than the pyramid of Cheops. Its height is only 66.4 meters. The pyramid was intended for the grandson of Cheops.
History of the Egyptian pyramids
The time of construction of the Egyptian pyramids dates back to the beginning of the Ancient Kingdom, which is approximately 2800 to 2250 B.C.
Almost 5,000 years ago (28th century BC) the founder of the third dynasty, Pharaoh Djoser, barely ascended the throne, ordered the construction of his tomb to begin. The construction was entrusted to the architect Imhoten. The innovation that the architect applied in the construction of the tomb for Djoser was that he built it in the form of six benches, stacked on top of each other. And each successive one was smaller than the preceding one. Imhoten created the first step pyramid. Its height was equal to 60 m, length – 120 m, width – 109 m. In contrast to the previous pyramids Djoser’s pyramid is constructed not from a tree and bricks, but from the large limestone blocks. This pyramid is considered the ancestor of the great pyramids.
The first of the great pyramids is the Cheops pyramid. It is absolutely impossible to imagine that it was erected, according to extant manuscripts, in only 20 years. Even today, with all modern technology, it is difficult to build such a huge structure, not to mention the fact that the pyramid was built 4,500 years ago, when no mechanisms were even imagined. Sometimes the opinion is expressed that the pyramids could not be built by people living in the Bronze Age, and that aliens took part in creation of these colossal constructions. But, according to the official scientific version, the construction of the pyramids was the work of ordinary people. The main builders were nearly 100,000 slaves.
Millions blocks were literally chiseled out of rocks by means of primitive drills from red copper which very quickly were blunted from such heavy work. When fitting wooden boards to the future slab, they were constantly watered. The wood swelled up and pulled the stone away from the rock. Then, the stone was carefully sanded, giving it the necessary shape. This flawless result is worth admiring because the work was done using very primitive tools. Without any measuring instruments, the result was a block perfect in its proportions and shape. In the vicinity of Aswan even now there are ruins of ancient quarries where many finished blocks were found. As it turned out, it is a waste not used in laying the pyramids.
The processed blocks were transported by boats to the other bank of the Nile. From there they were carried on a specially laid road, which took 10 years to build and which, according to Herodotus, was only slightly easier than the construction of the pyramids. The pyramid was erected on a bedrock of limestone, cleared of sand and gravel. Workers dragged them to the site using ramps, blocks and levers, and then fitted them together without any mortar. The stones of the pyramid are so tightly “fitted” that it is impossible to stick even a knife blade between them. To lift blocks, Egyptians built from bricks and stone an inclined embankment with an angle of rise about 15. When the main structure was finished, it resembled a series of steps. As the pyramid was built, the embankment was lengthened. Probably wooden sledges on which the blocks were dragged by hundreds of slaves upwards were also used. Traces of these wagons have been found in some places.
When construction was mostly finished, the inclined embankment was leveled and the pyramid surface was covered with facing blocks.
Construction was finished in 2580 B.C. Originally, the height of the pyramid was 150 meters, but in due course, because of destructions and encroaching sands, it became less – by the present day by 10 meters.
There is no doubt that this pyramid was built as a tomb for the pharaoh Cheops. In ancient Egypt it was customary to build structures for burial long before the death of the person to whom it was intended. The Egyptians believed in an afterlife and carefully prepared for it. They believed that when a person died, their body should be preserved so that the spirit could continue to live on after death. They removed internal organs, filled the body with salts, and wrapped it in linen shrouds. So the body was turned into a mummy. Jewels were buried with pharaohs, which the ancients thought would be useful to him in the other world. Also, a large number of servants were often buried with the ruler, who would serve the master even after his death. The pyramids served the pharaohs, according to their religious beliefs, as a stairway by which souls ascended to heaven.
After the pyramid of Cheops was built, the construction of the pyramid of Khafr started. Huge sums of money were invested in this construction. A third pyramid was to be no less magnificent. But Menkaur could not afford to build a large pyramid. The country was devastated by the construction of the pyramids of Khufu and Khafr. A famine began. The population, exhausted by hard labor, grumbled. But despite its smaller size, the pyramid of Menkaure still looks unusually beautiful.
The mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids
There are quite fantastic assumptions about the pyramids. For example, that they are not tombs at all, but something like observatories. Astronomer Richard Proctor argues that the descending corridor may have been used to observe the movement of some stars, and the Grand Gallery, opened at the top, was used to draw a map of the sky. Still, the official version is that the pyramids were built primarily as tombs.
Since the pharaohs were buried with various items of value, there is no doubt that jewels could be found in them. The search for the treasure in the tomb of Cheops has not ceased even today. There is still much that remains undiscovered. That is why the ancient pyramids are a favorite place for treasure hunters. For a long time, the main problem was considered to be the looting of the pyramids. This problem seems to have existed as far back as the Ancient Kingdom, so the tombs were designed on the principle of labyrinths, with secret rooms and doors, decoys and traps.
According to the official version, the first time entered the pyramid in 820 AD: Arab caliph Abdullah Al Manum decided to look for the treasures of Khufu. Immediately the treasure hunters were faced with the fact that it was completely impossible to find the entrance to the tomb. After a long search, they decided to dig under the pyramid. They soon found themselves in a passage that led downwards. These excavations continued for some months. People were simply desperate – as soon as they entered any corridor, it immediately ended with a blind wall.
The first room they managed to find was what is now known as the “king’s room. From this they found their way to a space at the junction of two corridors and led to the “great gallery,” which in turn led to the “king’s room”-about 11 meters long and 5 wide. Here we found only an empty sarcophagus without a lid. There was nothing else in the room.
Several years of work yielded nothing – no treasure was found. It is most likely that the tomb had been looted long before Abdullah Al Manum came, but the workers said that this was simply impossible, as all the slabs inside the pyramid were untouched and there was no way to get through them. It is true that in 1638 John Greves discovered a narrow passage in the Great Gallery that was littered with rubble. It is possible that all the treasures were taken out through this passage. But many scientists doubt this, as the passage is very small and a thin man can barely fit into it.
What happened to the mummy of Khufu and his treasure2 no one knows. Various investigations have not found any other rooms or passages. However, very many people still believe that the main rooms and the jewels hidden there have not yet been found.
In concluding the paper, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1. The construction of the pyramids is closely connected with the religion of the Egyptians, with their belief in the afterlife. Pyramids are cult constructions and act as tombs.
2. Pyramids are complex architectural structures with many passages, differing in size and each of them is individual in its structure.
3. Funerary structures were of various kinds: mastabas, stepped pyramids, tomb temples, and smooth-walled pyramids.
4. Construction methods cannot yet be fully understood today. Many questions arise to which scientists cannot give an answer.
The pyramids remain a mystery. Travelers who have been to Egypt necessarily come to the pyramids, as it is almost impossible to find more majestic structures.