is the one and only Wonder which does not require a description by
early historians and poets. It is the one and only Wonder that does not
need speculations concerning its appearance, size, and shape. It is the
oldest, yet it is the only surviving of the Seven Ancient Wonders. It
is the Great Pyramid of Giza.
At the city of Giza, a necropolis of ancient Memphis, and today part of Greater Cairo, Egypt.
Contrary to the common belief, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), not all three Great Pyramids, is on top of the list
of Wonders. The monument was built by the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty around the year 2560 BC to serve
as a tomb when he dies. The tradition of pyramid building started in Ancient Egypt as a sophistication of the idea of a
mastaba or "platform" covering the royal tomb. Later, several stacked mastabas were used. Early pyramids, such as the Step
Pyramid of King Zoser (Djoser) at Saqqara by the famous Egyptian architect, Imhotep, illustrate this connection.
The great pyramid is believed to have been built over a 20 year period. The site was first prepared, and blocks of stone were
transported and placed. An outer casing (which disappeared over the years) was then used to smooth the surface. Although it
is not known how the blocks were put in place, several theories have been proposed. One theory involves the construction of
a straight or spiral ramp that was raised as the construction proceeded. This ramp, coated with mud and water, eased the
displacement of the blocks which were pushed (or pulled) into place. A second theory suggests that the blocks were placed
using long levers with a short angled foot.
Throughout their history, the pyramids of Giza have stimulated human imagination. They were referred to as "The Granaries
of Joseph" and "The Mountains of Pharaoh". When Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, his pride was expressed through his
famous quote: "Soldats! Du haute de ces Pyramides, 40 siècles nous contemplent". (Soldiers! From the top of these
Pyramids, 40 centuries are looking at us)
Today, the Great Pyramid is enclosed, together with the other pyramids and the Sphinx, in the touristic region of the Giza
Plateau. Also in the area is the museum housing the mysterious Sun Boat, only discovered in 1954 near the south side of the
pyramid. The boat is believed to have been used to carry the body of Khufu in his last journey on earth before being buried
inside the pyramid. It may also serve him as a means of transportation in his afterlife journey according to Ancient Egyptian
When it was built, the Great pyramid was 145.75 m (481 ft) high. Over
the years, it lost 10 m (30 ft) off its top. It ranked as the tallest
structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries, only to be surpassed in
height in the nineteenth century AD. It was covered with a casing of
stones to smooth its surface (some of the casing can still be seen near
the top of Khefre's pyramid). The sloping angle of its sides is 54
degrees 54 minutes. Each side is carefully oriented with one of the
cardinal points of the compass, that is, north, south, east, and west.
The horizontal cross section of the pyramid is square at any level,
with each side measuring 229 m (751 ft) in length. The maximum error
between side lengths is astonishingly less than 0.1%.
The structure consists of approximately 2
million blocks of stone, each weighing more than two tons. It has been
suggested that there are enough blocks in the three pyramids to build a
3 m (10 ft) high, 0.3 m (1 ft) thick wall around France. The area
covered by the Great pyramid can accommodate St Peter's in Rome, the
cathedrals of Florence and Milan, and Westminster and St Paul's in
On the north face, is the pyramid's entrance. A number of corridors, galleries, and escape shafts either lead to the King's
burial chamber, or were intended to serve other functions. The King's chamber is located at the heart of the pyramid, only
accessible through the Great Gallery and an ascending corridor. The King's sarcophagus is made of red granite, as are the
interior walls of the King's Chamber. Most impressive is the sharp-edged stone over the doorway which is over 3 m (10 ft)
long, 2.4 m (8 feet) high and 1.3 m (4 ft) thick. All of the interior stones fit so well, a card won't fit between them. The
sarcophagus is oriented in accordance with the compass directions, and is only about 1 cm smaller in dimensions than the
chamber entrance. It might have been introduced as the structure was progressing.
theories concerning the origin and purpose of the Pyramids of Giza have
been proposed... Astronomic observatories... Places of cult worship...
Geometric structures constructed by a long-gone civilization... Even
extraterrestrial-related theories have been proposed with little
evidence in support... The overwhelming scientific and historic
evidence still supports the conclusion that, like many smaller pyramids
in the region, the Great Pyramids were built by the great Ancient
Egyptian civilization off the West bank of the Nile as tombs for their
magnificent Kings... Tombs where Khufu, Khefre, and Menkaure could
start their mystic journey to the afterlife.