The Great Pyramid of Khufu
His name means “he protects me”
He is also known in history by the Greek name Cheops.
He was the successor of his father King Senefru and his mother was queen Hetepheres.
He married queen Henutsen (the mother of King Khaefre)
He was the 2nd king during the 4th dynasty, Old Kingdom.
He built the 1st largest pyramid at Giza Plateau.
The Great Pyramid Complex:
Original Name: ꜣḫt ḫw.f.w(ỉ) “Horizon of Khufu”
Original Height: 146m
Current Height: 137m (The top 31 feet are now missing)
Angle: 51° 52’
The Great Pyramid is the only wonder of the seven wonders of the ancient world that is still standing today although it is 2,000 years older than any other wonder on the list.
Many architects and engineers who have studied the Pyramid’s structure assert that, with all our technological ability, we could not build that structure today.
The pyramid was constructed from about 2,300,000 blocks of limestone, each weighting an average of 2.5 tons. Yet, many blocks particularly those toward the top are smaller than this. Some of the casing stones at the base are very large, weighting as much as 15 tons. The heaviest blocks are the granite blocks used to roof the king’s chamber and the weight relieving chambers above it. These are estimated to weight from 50 to 80 tons each.
The pyramid’s mortar joints (a mixture of sand, water and cement used in building to hold stones together).
The area covered by the square base of pyramid is 13.1 acres.
The pyramid was originally covered by a layer of smooth white Tura limestone, probably crowned by gold sheet at the apex.
How exactly this pyramid was built is a question that has been debated for millennia.
– The earliest record theory was put by the Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt around 450 B.C. He wrote that “machines” were used to raise the blocks.
– Three hundred years later, Diodorus of Sicily suggested a Second theory that “the construction was made by using mounds (ramps)”.
Although most modern scholars are supporting these two theories, yet deep in their hearts, they know that neither one is correct.
– According to the machines theory hundreds of wooden crane like devices that resemble the Shadouf were put at various levels on the pyramid and were used to lift the blocks. One problem with this theory is that it would involve a tremendous amount of timber and Egypt simply didn’t have forests to provide the wood. Importing it would have been impractical.
– The second theory is that a ramp was built on one side of the pyramid and as the pyramid grew, the ramp was raised so that throughout the construction, blocks could be moved right up to the top. Here, it should be noted that if the ramp was too steep, the men carrying the blocks wouldn’t be able to drag them up.
– Several pyramid experts have decided on a modified ramp theory. This theory suggests that the ramp moved in an upward spiral path around the pyramid (i.e. corkscrewed up the outside of the pyramid). This theory does solve the problem of the need for a massive mil-long ramp and explain why no remains of such a ramp have been found, but there remains a fault with this version of the theory.
– With a ramp corkscrewing up the outside of the pyramid, the corners couldn’t be completed until the final stage of construction. But careful measurements of the angels at the corners would have been needed frequently to assure that the corners would meet to create a point at the top.
– A radical new idea has recently been presented by the French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin, who asserts that a ramp was indeed used to raise the blocks to the top, and that this ramp still exists inside the pyramid.
– Houdin’s internal ramp theory suggests that for the bottom third of the pyramid, the blocks were dragged up a straight on the external ramp and it was made of limestone blocks. As the bottom of the pyramid was being built via the external ramp, a second ramp was being built, inside the pyramid, on which the blocks for the top two-thirds of the pyramid would be pulled to build the pyramid.
Internal Design of the Great Pyramid:
The pyramid of Khufu has a complicated internal structure incorporating three chambers and a connection system of passageways.
The Entrance is on the north face, it leads to a corridor that descends through the core of the pyramid, then through the rock. The corridor continues horizontally before terminating in a chamber (1) that was never finished.
On the south wall of the chamber, opposite the entrance, there is an opening to a blind passage. The presence of this passage suggests that, if the original plan had been executed, there would have been a second chamber behind the first one.
Along the east wall of the chamber is a square cut shaft, its bottom is filled with rubble and debris.
When the original plan was altered to have a burial chamber in the body of the pyramid, a hole was cut in the roof of the descending corridor and an ascending passage was cut upwards through the core.
At the lower end of this ascending passage, there are three large plug-blocks made of granite and placed one behind another.
The upper end of this passage opens in a horizontal corridor that leads to the Second Chamber (2) which was mistakenly called by the Arabs (Queen’s Chamber).
There is a Grand Gallery was built as a continuation of the ascending corridor.
The Grand Gallery leads upwards to an Antechamber and to the king’s Chamber.
The function of the gallery is more likely a holding place for the three large plug-blocks which were lowered to seal off the bottom of the ascending passage after the burial of the king in order to secure his sacred burial.
An Antechamber lies between the grand gallery and the main chamber. It housed large portcullis blocking slabs which were designed to be lowered to seal the chamber after the burial of the king.
Khufu’s Burial Chamber is made of red granite. Above its flat ceiling, which is composed of nine slabs weighting about 400 tons, there are five separate compartments, the ceiling of the first four being flat and the fifth having a pointed roof. Its purpose is to eliminate any risk of the ceiling of the chamber collapsing under the weight of the superstructure.
From each of the two upper chambers, narrow sloping tunnels were constructed. These tunnels, which are nowadays called air-shafts, probably had little to do with ventilation, and for sometimes it has been accepted that they may have some astronomical function.
In 1903 a German team, using a robot camera, discovered that the southern shaft from the queen’s chamber was blocked by a stone slab. Closer inspection showed that the slab has two copper fittings. The true function of this slap is a mystery, but it’s known as “The Door”. This popular name implies that the slap actually serves as a door, leading probably to a fourth chamber! But until scholars can look closely behind it, or even open it, we will never know for sure what it really is and what it meant to the builders of the pyramid.
When first discovered the three chambers were found empty. Their robbery is believed to have occurred in the First Intermediate Period, when the central authority collapsed.
The Queens’ Pyramids:
The three subsidiary pyramids with their mortuary chapels lay side-by-side on the east side. These were simplified versions of the king’s pyramid. These pyramids were built to house Khufu’s closest female relatives, including his mother, Hetepheres. Two of these pyramids were never completed, and all three pyramidds are now collapsed, revealing their stepped inner structures.
In 1925 a shaft was discovered close by queens’ pyramids. This led to a plain chamber, contained the remains of Queen Hetepheres’ burial equipment. Her alabaster sarcophagus was found, also her canopic chest, which still held her viscera. Her body was missing and has never been found.
The Mortuary Temple:
It’s located on the East side of the pyramid, is ruined. A rough area of basalt pavement shows its position. It appears that the temple was square in shape with an inner sanctuary fronted by an open court with a pillared colonnade.
It is built of polished stone and is covered with carvings of animals.
The Valley Temple:
It appears that the structure employed large quantity of basalt and limestone. No decorated blocks were found in it.
– Several boat-pits were discovered around the pyramid, and boats were found in two of them.
There are two opinions regarding the use of these boats:
I. They were used during the funerary ceremonies and one of them perhaps carried the body of the king to the valley temple.
II. They were provided for the travels of the deceased king with the Sun-god.
– In 1991 Zahi Hawass discovered the remains of a tiny satellite pyramid south-east of the Great Pyramid. This pyramid includes a descending passage and a miniature burial chamber. Its purpose has not been confirmed, yet it seems to have acted as a tomb for the ka (soul) of the dead king.
– Remnants of ramps have been found recently by Dr. Zahi Hawass on the south side of the pyramid that attest that the same type of ramping was used in the construction of this pyramid.