Saturday, May 5, 2007

Great Pyramid of Khufu

Architect: unknown

Location: El Giza, Egypt map

Date: 2600 to -2480 timeline

Building: Type pyramid tomb, monument

Construction System: bearing masonry (cut stone)

Climate: desert

Context: rural

Style: Ancient Egypt


"Pyramid of Cheops" or "Khufu's Pyramid", near Cairo, the farthest north and east of the famous trio, often the pyramid in back in the classic picture. Ancient Egyptian, Fourth Dynasty.

"The pyramids at Giza—descendants of primitive 'stepped' prototypes built in superimposed layers—are gigantic prisms unique in world architecture, mathematics at an ultimate scale. It is quite possible that Cheop's Great Pyramid consumed more dressed stone blocks than any structure ever built, an estimated 2,300,000 of them, averaging 2.5 tons each. It is generally thought that the blocks were moved on log rollers and sledges and then ramped into place."

Details :

Khufu or Cheop's Great Pyramid is 756 feet (241 meters) square in plan, and 481 feet (153 meters) high. The angle of inclination of the triangular faces is about 51.5 degrees. The square of its height equals the area of each triangular face, as determined by Herodotus in 450 B. C. The base of the pyramid covers about 13 acres.

The other two pyramids in the famous trio are Khafre, 704 feet (214.5 meters) square, 471 feet (143.5 meters) high, with a face inclination of 53.2 degrees, and Menkaure, 345.5 feet (110 meters) square, 216 feet (68.8 meters) high, with a face inclination of 51.3 degrees (or possibly 330ft wide and 206 ft high (105m x 65.5m)).

For ease of modeling the pyramids, it may be useful to also know the triangular face height for each as measured along the surface instead of vertically. According to trigonometry, these surface face heights are: Khufu, 612 feet (195 meters); Khafre, 588 feet (179 meters); Menkaure, 276.6 feet (88 meters) (or possibly 263.6 feet 84m).

In addition to the splendor of the Great Pyramid, an exciting ancient wooden boat was found sealed in a pit at the base of the Great pyramid.

This boat was interred in pieces and has since been reassembled, restored and housed in a climate controlled museum over the site of the original pit.

Khufu had several sons and his immediate successor was his son Djedefre (Radjedef). Curiously, Djedefre also chose to build his pyramid at a location other than that of his fathers. Instead Djedefre was buried to the north at a site now known as Abu Roash. A remaining son of Khufu - Khafre, was to join his father building his pyramid at the higher spot in on the Giza plateau. Although Khufu's pyramid is actually bigger than Khafre's, the higher ground provides the illusion that Khafre's pyramid is taller. After the death of Khafre, his son Menkaure built his smaller pyramid at Giza, eventually completing the last of the famous pyramids at Giza.

After the Great Pyramid was initially sealed, it's original entrance was hidden and faced with smooth limestone. Because this blended in so well with the surrounding casing, the opening was invisible. Around 820 AD, Abdullah Al Mamun mobilized men to bore a tunnel into the pyramid to search for chambers and treasure. Due to the difficulty of the task of breaking up the hard rock, fires were built to heat the rock and then cold vinegar was poured over the heated rock. Battering rams were used to pound away the weakened rock and clear a tunnel. Eventually, a passageway was found which descended into the lowest chamber of the pyramid. Following this passageway back upward, the original entrance was finally located. In these pictures of the NORTH side you can see the intrusive entrance lower down, and the original entrance higher up flanked by angled stones:

From the outside, near the original entrance. In the left view on the lower left you can see a granite block, believed to be one of the large portcullis blocks that were originally lowered in the antechamber to seal the main burial chamber. These have all been removed from their original place, this one remains here. The picture on the right is looking down the original entrance through the grating that is now in place, this passageway runs over 100 yards in length to the subterranean chamber:

Here, we enter the intrusive passageway, which in modern times is the main entrance. You can notice the rough nature of this tunneling, while the original passageways and chambers inside the pyramid are smooth and finished:

The right view includes modern metal braces which were added to reinforce this tunneled passageway.
As mentioned, the original entry passageway was refound, this first view shows the descending passageway leading into the lowest subterranean chamber, and also leading back up to the original opening. During the intrusive tunneling, supposedly the sound of falling rock was heard above revealing the existence of an upper cavity. Al Mamun tunneled toward the sound and, amazing, burst into an ascending passageway. The second view shows the original granite blocks, known as portcullis blocks, that were set in place to originally seal access to these upper passageways and chambers. When Mamun had bored through to the ascending passageway he had tunneled just to the side of these blocks which are still in their original place:

To enter the descending passageway and the subterranean chamber, GO HERE

Now modern steps lead you to a ramp that goes around the portcullis blocks and lead up through the ascending passageway.

Follow then as we enter the ascending passageway that leads to the magnificent Grand Gallery. From here we can enter the two main chambers of the upper section, now called the Queen's and King's chambers and explore the antechamber just before the King's Chamber:

To go through the ascending passageway and explore the upper passageways and chambers, CLICK HERE.



Anonymous said...

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Greg Craudfield
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Anonymous said...

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Alice Johnson
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