of Giza is the
last, and the only
present, wonder of the
old seven wonders of the
world. It is the oldest building
in the world. A mysterious building
that led to very odd and strange theories,
of its caliber, about the civilization that built it!
I) Egypt, the dawn of history:
The civilization of ancient Egypt is significant in several ways. Together with those of Mesopotamia, India, and China, it was one of the earliest civilizations, and it is perhaps the best example of continuous cultural evolution based on internal stimuli, rather than the complex mix of internal and external factors found, for example, in Mesopotamia.
Two major areas of the Middle East, both of them river valleys, seem to have been the earliest centers of civilization: Egypt, with its agriculture based on the annual flooding of the Nile; and Mesopotamia, the rich land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In both of these areas we find the earliest use of copper, around 4000 BC.
Although older fossil remains of human-like beings have been found elsewhere, ancient Egypt provides some of the earliest written records of human experience. For this reason one can say that history begins in this region. By the time writing was invented, civilization was already quite developed in Egypt. Society was organized into specialized groups with a ruling class of kings and nobles at the top and peasants, laborers, and slaves at the bottom. Highly developed mythologies and religious cults with temples and priests were to be found in different forms in various localities. Writing, accomplished by impressing wet ink into papyrus sheets with a pen, as with Egyptian hieroglyphics, was only one of the many great inventions of the ancient Egyptians that spread far and wide.
Egyptian influence on other peoples was also significant. The Egyptian ideas have spread out. Its hieroglyphic writing system and other cultural elements were adopted by ancient kingdom of Sudan. Syria and Palestine were strongly affected by Egyptian religion and art. The cults of some Egyptian gods had followers in both Greece and Rome. Greek sciences and art were originally influenced by Egypt. The two last regions, Greece and Rome, are the most important antecedents of the modern western world that owe something to Egypt. The western alphabet is derived from a Phoenician one possibly modeled on Egyptian hieroglyphs. Finally, archaeology and historical writing have made Egypt a subject of great public interest, stimulating many books, novels, exhibits, and movies.
Achievement, continuity, and innovation characterized the Egyptian civilization. Major achievements included a continuous drive toward political unity and social stability; the creation of a surplus in food and materials that supported a superstructure of administrators, soldiers, priests, and craftsmen; and the invention or adoption of a writing system (3100 BC). Literacy made government more effective, stabilizing and enriching religious, intellectual, and scientific information. In turn, these developments promoted the growth of elaborate and often colossally scaled architecture in brick and stone; and the growth of highly accomplished art forms (statuary, relief, and painting), which were among the most distinctive of the ancient world.
The materials, organization, and labor required by the pyramids, and the many estates supporting the cult and personnel of each, clearly reveal the king's firm control over Egypt and its resources. This was achieved through a complex government, consisting of a central bureaucracy, directly under the pharaoh's supervision, and more than 30 provincial bureaucracies reporting to the center. Throughout the Old Kingdom, revenues were collected, labor and resources exploited, and justice and arbitration provided; literary works extolling the bureaucracy and advising on proper behavior were popular.
Lower your head to descend through the main entrance!
Now, we know how Egypt looked at the time of the building of the pyramid. Now, a few logical, and quite difficult questions arise! Was this great building, the greatest to date, built only as a tomb in which to bury the King's body; and how were the Egyptians able to build it 4500 years ago?
These two questions create a puzzle that has inspired many people to assume that:
1) The history of humanity is written and hidden somewhere in or beneath this great building.
2) The pyramids of Giza acted as beacons that guided the pilots of aircrafts towards a landing site at Baalbek. (The Stairway to Heaven, Avon Books, New York, 1980.)
3) The pyramid was created to use its awesome powers in a war of the Gods!!!!!!! As a result of this war, the Pyramid was permanently taken out of service and its capstone removed. (The Wars of Gods and Men, Avon Books, 1985.)
4) The pyramid was used to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen. These two gases were transported separately to the King's Chamber. The hydrogen gas was then burned under controlled conditions in a granite box. These two gases can therefore be used to create a powerful source of energy, the oxygen acting as a combustion agent for a hydrogen gas fire. (The great pyramid of Giza -- the final solution, A Unique Theory by Alan F. Alford, 1996.)
5) The pyramid served as a radio telescope. Along the side ramps there are niches that now lie empty. It is possible that they might have been crystals that resonated to different frequencies and were thus used in the radio-telescope's incoming communications facility. (The great pyramid of Giza -- the final solution, A Unique Theory by Alan F. Alford, 1996)
6) When years are substituted for inches, the Great Pyramid becomes a prophetic calendar. Dates shown include the start of the Pyramid's construction in 2623 BC, the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt in 1453 BC, the death of Christ in 33 A.D., and the start of World War I in 1914. (Art Bell's newsletter, AFTER DARK Vol.1 No.3 March 1995)
Have a careful look up to the outside door!
In short, the above mentioned theories, which are only a few of many interesting ones, try to reach a conclusion like this one: "There has been a running controversy between two groups of serious students of the Great Pyramid. The first group believes that the Pyramid is a divine revelation, and the second group doesn't. While this latter group might be willing to conjecture that the apparent geometric marvels of the pyramid are the result of knowledge lost with Atlantis, other highly advanced lost civilization, or Aliens from outer space, they will not accept the possibility that God used prophets to direct the building of the Great Pyramid in the way that God directed Noah to build the ark. The author is confident that the Great Pyramid's Architect was the Creator and that its builder was the Egyptian pharaoh Cheops, also called Khufu. Cheops was directed by shepherd-prophets who were men who received a special calling and anointing from God. (The Great Pyramid by Larry Pahl, 1996.)
Notice here the complete absence of the idea of the pyramid being built by the Egyptian Architects!
So, what was the motive for the Egyptians to build the pyramid? The works that have survived from ancient Egypt consist almost entirely of spectacular funerary monuments, such as the world-famous temples and tombs. The principal reason for this is that religious buildings and tombs were constructed of such durable materials as limestone, sandstone, and granite. Moreover, their location was favorable to their enduring: they were built on the edge of the desert, beyond the reach of the Nile, which overflowed its banks every year. Very little is known about the non religious architecture; the palaces, public buildings, and private houses of ancient Egypt. Religion and the monarchy were the two major influences on the art and architecture of ancient Egypt. The Egyptians believed firmly in an afterlife, and the mortuary cult played an extremely important role in Egyptian civilization, determining the nature of much of its artistic production. To the ancient Egyptians, death was seen as just the beginning of a journey to another life, an afterlife that would last forever if things were properly organized before departure. First, the corpse had to be preserved by mummification, and then the body had to be protected from the elements and intruders by a burial chamber called Mastaba.
The Egyptians believed that their kings became gods at death, who could then ensure an afterlife for everybody. So the pharaohs got the biggest tombs of all, stone mountains built to last an eternity. It is not amazing at all that the ancient builders constructed the pyramids with great care, as they were the sacred tombs of the pharaohs, designed to help ensure their immortality. So, Egyptians were working hardly for their God who will take care of them in the afterlife! A more than only a motive to build this great monument.
You can stand up now, you are in the Grand Gallery!
Then we come to the next question: How was the pyramid built? The first answer to this question came in the book of Herodotus, the father of history. He was a Greek historian, the most famous of the ancient times, who lived in the 5th century BC. He traveled along a number of different lands and cultures, such as Egypt, Syria, Babylon, and others. In his multiple volume history book " Histories ", one book was totally dedicated to the people, culture and land of Egypt. He met the priests and people of Egypt and from them he wrote the story. It is worthy to say that he lived 2000 years after the pyramid was built but still during the pharaohs reign.
Herodotus' script (translated to English): "The priests said, Egypt was excellently governed, and flourished greatly; Cheops, who brought the people to utter misery**, closed the temples, and forbade the Egyptians to offer sacrifice, compelling them instead to labor, one and all, in his service. To some, he assigned the task of dragging stones from the quarries in the Arabian mountains to the Nile; and after the stones were ferried across the river in boats, he organized others to receive and drag them to the mountains called Libyan. Hundred thousand men labored constantly, and were relieved every three months by a fresh lot. It took ten years to make the causeway for the conveyance of the stones, a work not much inferior, in my opinion, to the pyramid itself. This causeway is nearly a mile long and twenty yards wide, and elevated at its highest to a height of sixteen yards. It is built of polished stone, and is covered with carvings of animals. The aforesaid ten years went to the building of this road and of the underground chambers in the hill where the pyramid stand; these, the king meant to be burial places for himself. These last were built on a sort of island, surrounded by water introduced from the Nile by a canal.
The pyramid itself was twenty years in building. It is a square, eight hundred feet each way, and the height the same, built entirely of polished stone, fitted together with the utmost care. There is no block of less than thirty feet in length. The pyramid was built in steps, like stairs, which some call steps and others, tiers. After laying the stones for the base, they raised the remaining stones to their places by means of machines formed of short wooden planks. The first machine raised them from the ground to the top of the first step. On this there was another machine, which received the stone upon its arrival, and conveyed it to the second step, whence a third machine advanced it still higher. Either they had as many machines as there were steps in the pyramid, or possibly they had but a single machine, which, being easily moved, was transferred from tier to tier as the stone rose. Both accounts are given, and therefore I mention both. The upper portion of the pyramid was finished first, then the middle, and finally the part that was lowest and nearest the ground. There is an inscription in Egyptian characters on the pyramid which records the quantity of radishes, onions, and garlic consumed by the laborers who constructed it; and I perfectly well remember that the interpreter who read the writing to me said that the money expended in this way was 1600 talents of Silver. If that is so, what a vast sum must have been spent on the iron tools used in the work, and on the feeding and clothing of the laborers."
** Recent archaeological evidences suggests that the priests who met Herodotus
Kneel down, you are at the entrace of the King's chamber!
There are Hieroglyphic inscriptions above Khufu's burial chamber that identifies the pyramid as that of Khufu. The inscriptions also tell that the workmen who were involved in building the Great Pyramid were divided into four gangs or groups, and each group had a name, and each group had an overseer. The ancient graffiti proudly described the workers as the "friends of Khufu."
A lot of Egyptologists tried to solve the puzzle of how was the pyramid built. The most serious and sensible work done, I believe was that carried out by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Director General of the Giza Pyramids with Mark Lehner, Archaeologist from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, and Harvard Semitic Museum. What did they find?
They discovered the bakeries in which bread was baked for the workmen. They discovered the tombs of the workmen who built the pyramids. Connected with the ramp to the pyramids are the tombs of the artisans, technicians, draughtsmen, craftsmen, and sculptors. These tombs prove that the pyramids were built by the Egyptians. They also found scenes of the regular dress of the workmen and the evidence of the location of the Valley Temple of the King. They recorded a whole large settlement about three kilometers squares. In this settlement, they found domesticated animal bones with butcher's marks in them as well as pollens of plants. They found the Old Kingdom walls. This was dated to the reign of Khufu. They found 600 skeletons that have been studied by scholars, scientists and doctors from the National Research Center who proved that those people, were Egyptians, the same like those in every cemetery in Egypt. The skeletons showed evidence that those people had emergency treatment due to accidents during building the pyramid. Twelve skeletons had accidents with their hands that was supported from both sides with wood. Another one, a stone fell down on his leg, had a kind of operation, and got his leg cut.
Now as we have a proof that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramid, credit should be given were it is deserved. Workers had to raise over two million blocks (most estimates are 2,300,000 stones) to a height of forty stories (147 meter) at the rate of one block every three minutes (about 340 block a day), an amazing achievement, given that the ancient Egyptians possessed only the simplest technology.
Most of the stones for the Giza pyramids were quarried on the Giza plateau itself. Some of the limestone casing was brought from Tura, across the Nile, and the king's room was cased with granite from Aswan. Part-time crews of laborers probably supplemented the year-round masons and other skilled workers. Herodotus estimated the workmen to be 100,000, while modern Egyptologists estimate the number to be much less, around 20 - 30,000.
Egyptians had copper tools such as chisels, drills, and saws that may have been used to cut the relatively soft stone. The hard granite, used for burial chamber walls and some of the exterior casing, would have posed a more difficult problem. Workmen may have used an abrasive powder, such as sand, with the drills and saws. Water-filled trenches probably were used to level the perimeter. Huge stone blocks were moved on sledges over ground first made slippery by liquid. The blocks were then brought up ramps to their positions in the pyramid. Finally, the outer layer of casing stones was finished from the top down and the ramps dismantled as the work was completed.
One rather well known theory as to how the pyramids were built is that of Mark Lehner. Lehner works at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. Lehner has spent much of the last 20 years excavating at the site of the Great Pyramid. His theory, that is liked by many Egyptologists, is the theory of Tafla. Tafla is a clay that is very strong when it is dried but it is easily destroyed by the swing of a pick ax. But, when Tafla is wet it is very slippery and the 2 ton blocks can be moved easily. So if you had a ramp that has been made out of Tafla, you and a big crew could move the 2 ton blocks up the side of the pyramid easily. Then, if you put a pole on the corner of the pyramid you could swing the blocks around the corners.
This was displayed by a NOVA experiment, under the direction of Mark Lehner, that showed on a lesser scale, that building the pyramids in this matter was quite possible. By using the tools and methods that the Egyptians had developed as discovered through his own research, a team of twelve Egyptian stonemasons was able to quarry stones enough to build a mini-pyramid, 18 ft high with blocks of the same size as that of the Great Pyramid, in three weeks. Mark Lehner and the team note that with common sense and practice the building of the pyramid with low technology was even easy (Hadingham, Evan. Pyramid Schemes. The Atlantic November 1992)
Mark Lehner himself says about this experiment: "In 21 days, 12 men in bare feet, living out in the eastern desert, opened a new quarry and they quarried 186 stones. So, taking just a raw figure, if 12 men can quarry 186 stones in 21 days, how many men were required to deliver 340 stones a day?" By a simple calculation, 460 are needed.
To pull these stones out of the quarry those men used an iron winch. Mark, then, substituted it (the iron winch) by 20 men who pulled the stones away from the quarry. This made the group 32 men. Now, the calculation becomes 1228 workmen are needed to deliver 340 stones a day out of the quarry.
In another experiment, 12 men were able to pull a 1.5 ton block over a slick clay (Tafla) ramp with great ease. Knowing where the quarry is, where the pyramid is, and where would the ramp have run, Mark could come up with a figure of how many men it would take to schlep 340 stones a day up to the pyramid. He could even factor in different configurations of the ramp that would give different lengths. It comes out to something like 2000.
Now we have 1200 men in the quarry and 2000 men delivering the stones up the ramp. And so that's 3200. For the building, he put pivots under the stones so that few guys can pivot it around by putting a hard cobble under it. All these tricks were known by ancient Egyptians. Finally he came up with about 5000 or less men to actually do the building and the quarrying and the schlepping from the local quarry. This does not count the men cutting the granite and shipping it from Aswan or the men over in Tura.
One of the largest construction firms, DIM JIM, who worked on the Pentagon decided to take on for a formal address for fellow engineers, a program management study of the Great Pyramid. These are senior civil engineers with one of the largest construction corporations in the United States. Their study looked at what they call critical path analysis. What do you need to get the job done? What tools did they have? They contacted Mark Lehner and other Egyptologists and reviewed some references to get information about ancient Egyptian tools, the inclined plane, the lever and so on. DIM JIM came up with 4000 to 5000 workmen could build the Great Pyramid within a 20 to 40 year period. They had very specific calculations on every single aspect, from the gravel for the ramps, to baking the bread. Here we find that a group of reasoned construction engineers, who plan great projects as bridges and buildings today and earthworks and so on, look at the Great Pyramid and do not opt out for lost civilizations, extra terrestrials, or hidden technologies. Instead, they say it's a very impressive job, extraordinary for the people who lived then and there, but it could be done. It is a human monument.
Hold your breath, you are in King Khufu's chamber!