Egyptians were the most prosperous and highly intellect people in the ancient times, ever since 3000 B.C. Their riches and the stability of the society were remarkable. The Egyptian society had always regarded their kings above anything and the kings were also considered divine. As a common interest or rather as a tradition, they believed in keeping their kings’ dignity intact even after their death. The Egyptians believed that after the king’s death, he would become god of the dead, Osiris. As per their belief, when the king died a part of his soul remained with the body, thus they would mummify the corpse and bury him with the things they believed would be required afterlife, such as gold vessels, food, furniture and other offerings. To protect the body and the belongings, a tomb that looked like a mountain – pyramid – was built for the king. Thus for every king, also known as pharaoh, pyramids were built as their tombs. Hundreds of such pyramids were built but among them all the one that epitomised the Egyptian architecture was ‘The Great Pyramid of Giza’.
The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu which he planned for himself to be built on the west bank of the Nile in the outskirts of Cairo. The construction of the pyramid started during his reign itself, around 2550 B.C. The completion of the construction of this massive man-made mountain took 30 years. Like other pharaohs, this pyramid was also built to protect the body and belongings of the king’s corpse. This marvellous architecture was designed by Khufu’s relative and one of the greatest Egyptian architects, Hemiunu.
Large blocks of limestone were used to construct this enormous piece of ancient wonder. These blocks had varied sizes weighing from 2.5 tons to 15 tons. Millions of such stone blocks were carried for hundreds of miles by the slaves to the construction site. These blocks of stones were cut with perfection in order to maintain the dimension of the tomb that was instructed. For thirty years, there were nearly 100,000 labourers involved in completion of this colossal tomb. Yellowish limestone blocks were used for the pyramid’s major portions while finer light-coloured limestone blocks were used for the outer casing. The burial chamber inside the pyramid was built using huge blocks of granite.
The properly cut blocks of stone were placed on the construction site forming a square base. The base of each side of the pyramid had a length of 230 metres. Each side of the pyramid has a triangular shape and all four sides gradually slant growing towards a point which lies at the centre of the pyramid, 147 metres above the ground. The stone blocks had a very tiny gap which was filled with strong mortar. The top of the pyramid is decorated with a special shining metal block which is like a miniature pyramid. It thus gave a pointed top to the structure of the pyramid.
There is an entrance to the pyramid at a site which is nearly 18 metres above the ground. The entrance led to a passageway that descended for 58 metres ending up in an underground chamber which has no way out. From this descending passage there is another branch that ascends to a chamber which was known as the Queen’s Chamber but happened to be a sacred chamber where the king’s statue was kept. From this chamber another 46-metre long slanting gallery followed. This gallery is known as Grand Gallery. Towards the end of this gallery, on the upper side, there is another long and narrow passage where a person could only crawl. This passage leads to the burial room of the pharaoh, known as King’s Chamber. The chamber is built only with red granites and inside this chamber, there is only the sarcophagus (coffin carved with stone) of Pharaoh Khufu.
Being the largest pyramid itself made the Great Pyramid of Giza a wonder but its most unique and overwhelming factor is the way it has been constructed. It would leave everyone stunned – the way the Egyptians had carried those huge blocks of stones all the way to the construction site and the technique used to pile them up to build the gigantic structure that stands 147 metres above the ground. There were hundreds of slaves used to drag those huge blocks of stones. To pull it all, they used wooden sledge and levers. For taking these huge blocks of stone all the way up, the Egyptians had built a gradual ramp made of mud, wood and stone. The ramp was around the pyramid and as the pyramid needed to grow, the ramp also grew higher. It helped the labourers to carry the stone blocks as high as it was required, with lesser effort and time. Thus, there was no mechanical labour involved in the construction of this mountain-like structure; it was only manual labour.
The pyramid had lost its dazzling charm which it had at the time of its construction. The light-coloured limestones were used to cover the entire structure of the pyramid. These stones were neatly cut, smoothened and polished and thus the faces of the pyramid looked smooth and the edges sharp. The pyramid shone and dazzled in the middle of the desert for nearly 30 centuries but in 13th century when the Arabs arrived, they removed these layers and sold them out or used them for building bridges and mosques. Thus, today we could only see the stone blocks layered in steps with some broken pieces, here and there, but the pyramid is still standing.