A Brief History of Egypt's Great Pyramid at Giza

Great Pyramid of Giza | © paweeslt  / flickr
Great Pyramid of Giza | © paweeslt / flickr
Photo of Sarah Marzouk
16 January 2017

Constructed between 2584 and 2561 BC, the great pyramid of Giza (also known as pyramid of Khufu or pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the last remaining of them. We take a brief look at the history of this intriguing structure.

According to Egyptologists, the pyramid was built as a tomb for Pharoaoh Khufu, second king of the Fourth Dynasty, over the period of approximately 20 years. For almost 4000 years, the pyramid was considered to be the tallest man-made construction in the world. It is the biggest and the oldest of the three-pyramid complex of Giza, an embodiment of the grandeur of the ancient Egypt.

King Khufu
The Grand Gallery | © Peter Prevos / wikimedia

The planning of the pyramid’s construction is still a mystery. It was built from more than two millions of stone blocks, each weighing approximately two to 15 tons. It was 481 feet tall when it was first constructed, but erosion removed the top piece, so today, it is around 455 feet tall. As for the base, each side is about 756 feet long, and it covers an area of 13 acres.

The pyramid was not only considered as a massive tomb, but also as a place of the regeneration for the deceased king according to ancient Egyptians. It has three known burial chambers inside of it and a sloping passageway named the grand gallery. One chamber is an underground one that is cut into bedrock. The two other chambers, one named the Queen’s Chamber – although archaeologists suggest that it’s not where the queen is buried, and the other room is the King’s Chamber. The Queen’s and The King’s chambers are located higher up within the pyramid.

Entrance of Great Pyramid | © Olaf Tausch / wikimedia

Khufu’s pyramid was called “Ikhet” by ancient Egyptians, which means “Glorious Light”. In its original state, the pyramid was covered with highly polished white limestone which reflected the sunlight and made the pyramid shine like a gem. Later, those casing stones were removed by Arabs to build mosques. According to calculations, the original structure with its casing stones would act like magnificent mirrors and would have powerfully reflected the light to the extent that it would be seen from the moon as a glaring star on earth.

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