Mystery, magnificence, and ancient magic surround the Pyramids of Giza. They have captivated the world since time immemorial, and we are no closer to finding out how they got there in the first place. Who made them? How were they constructed? And more importantly, what’s the secret to their longevity? These questions have haunted archeologists and Egyptologists for hundreds of years.
But now, thanks to modern research methods and the extreme work-ethic of modern Egyptologists, we know more than ever about these enigmatic structures. We are closer than ever to get the answers. Here are some of the biggest mysteries of the Pyramids of Giza.
Carved entirely out of large limestone blocks, the Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the greatest mysteries of ancient Egypt. It is a statue of a mythical creature with the body of a lion and a human head.
Research suggests that this statue might have been from before the time of pharaohs. Very little is known about this monolith statue. Historians Gerry Cannon and Malcolm Hutton believe that it is about 12000 years old when there was very little sand in the area. However, scientists are still looking for more evidence to back up that belief.
With all the riches of the world at their feet, it was only natural for the Pharaohs to employ the best and brightest minds to build the Pyramids. Many Egyptologists and historians agree that the ancient Egyptians valued talented architects and engineers.
They were hired to plan the construction of these monolith structures, and oversee preparations. Then the Pharaoh would order the slaves to carry out the actual labor work. The result was a very well thought-out operation that built the Pyramids without the use of any modern machinery or equipment.
There are conflicting theories about the circumstances that led to the building of these pyramids. But one thing is for sure; Modern scientists still have very little idea about how the workers were able to carve large stones and turn them into the pyramids.
It is commonly believed that it was done painstakingly with copper chisels, as slaves labored day and night to carve large boulders into the right shape. Then these chiseled stones were lifted into place under the guidance of the head architect. This must have taken hundreds of thousands of slaves, and where did ancient Egyptians get the technology to lift stones that weigh hundreds of tons?
Greek theorists were just as much in awe of these giant Pyramids as we are thousands of years later. They stipulated that the Pharaohs must have a constant supply of slaves to ensure the construction of the Pyramids.
Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus researched the Pyramids and wrote a detailed account of how they believe it was constructed.
Herodotus released his pioneering research in the 5th century BC, and for many, it is still the most impressive piece of literature on why the Pyramids may have been built.
These records about the building of the pyramids are understood to be the most trustworthy documents on the topic. However, over time, archaeologists and Egyptology enthusiasts have come up with some interesting and quite mysterious theories.
For many, the idea of humans building the Pyramids without any modern tools is so absurd, that they believe aliens did it. They are confident that ancient Egyptians had some out-of-this-world help to make these giant structures.
There are good reasons to believe this theory. For starters, the three Pyramids of Giza are in perfect alignment with Orion’s belt, i.e., the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka that can be easily spotted in the night sky. Another interesting fact is that these pyramids are in great shape compared to other smaller monuments built many years later.
Another group of historians believes that it was, in fact, humans who built it. Some people have traced the signs of existence of the pyramids back to biblical times. They believe that the Hebrews slaves may have had something to do with the construction of the pyramids.
The book of Exodus tells us that the Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt. So it may be true that the Egyptian rulers at the time used them to build the Pyramids. However, historians have already debunked this theory. You see, the Pyramids of Giza were built in 2580 BC or even earlier. And the Israelites weren’t subjugated to slavery until much later in 13th century BC. It simply does not add up.
The simple answer is that no one knows. Who inhabited the region 12000 years ago? Was it an earlier civilization with hidden knowledge of architecture and construction?
Historian Gerry Cannon has expressed that, “It had to have been done by a civilization that was more advanced than any of us.” Of course, Egyptian authorities complete denied that this wild theory had an actual basis.
Miroslav Verner is a preeminent Egyptologist of this generation. He firmly believed that the Pharaohs must have put a hierarchy in place to ensure a swift construction of the pyramids. According to his theory, some 10,000 men were divided into teams to carry out different duties. Further divisions were created in teams according to skills and levels of expertise.
This theory implies that the construction of the Pyramids of Giza was an extremely well-organized affair. The Pharaohs knew that their pyramid was to be their legacy, something they’d remembered for till the end of times. That is why they made that the construction happened without a glitch.
For millions of years, humanity has been fascinated by the legends of Ancient Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza have captured countless hearts and minds; these people have dedicated their lives to discovering the treasures hidden within and underneath the pyramids.
Hundreds of theories attempt to explain how and why these immense structures were built. Many more try to theorize if the blocks used for making them were rolled, dragged, or lifted into place. One of these is bound to be correct, but which one?
John Romer was another Egyptologist who dedicated his life to figuring out the details of the construction of the pyramids. He finally concluded that it was a meticulous affair and that the architects had laid out a full-scale plan before they started the work.
According to Romer, “Such a working diagram would also serve to generate the architecture of the pyramid with precision unmatched by any other means.” It took them 14 years to finish the construction by his estimates.
Another Egyptology fanatic Mark Lehner made it his life’s mission to find the truth behind the Pyramids of Giza.
He and his team set out to understand the secrets of its construction, putting together one of the most comprehensive studies on the subject in the modern era. Lehner believes that the development involved somewhere between 14,500 and 40,000 people.
In 1954, archeologist Kamal el-Mallakh ventured within the Pyramids to explore what was hidden inside. Here they made a fantastic discovery that would open up a whole new world of information about the ancient Egyptians and their practices.
They found a boat inside, apparently left for Pharaoh Khufu to use in the afterlife. Its wooden planks were first examined and then restored to their former glory. They had been sewn together with the ship to ensure that they stay put. So why a ship was buried deep down inside one of Egypt’s most massive pyramids?
The Pyramids of Giza were the burial grounds for the greatest rulers of ancient Egypt. Excavators also found evidence of other tools and goods inside the Pyramid where the ship was buried.
It was speculated that the servants of the king hid the vessel in a pit in the middle of the Great Pyramid along with other things their ruler might need in the afterlife. Once the king resurrected, this ship or ‘solar barge’ as it came to be known, was to take him on the eternal journey with the Sun God, Ra.
Upon further studies, it was revealed that that ship had already taken several trips on the water before it was buried with the Pharaoh.
Historians speculate that while the barge was meant to be used by the mummified king in the afterlife, he also got to use it while he was alive and well. Maybe he used it to go to holy sites or other places along the river Nile. Whatever its purpose may be, King Khufu’s solar barge was one of the most important discoveries from the Giza pyramid complex.
Were they only meant to be burial grounds, or is there some other higher purpose to these magnificent structures? Egyptologists believe that up to 20 years were spent building the largest of them all. So were the Pharaohs only thinking about their comfort in the afterlife when they ordered these buildings, or did they have something else in mind?
The largest pyramid is the resting ground for Pharaoh Khufu, while the three smaller pyramids in front could have been for his three wives, but that is nothing more than mere speculation. However, recently, some new information has offered more explanation about the purpose of these pyramids.
It is incredible to see how, hundreds of years later, we are still discovering new facts about the pyramids of Giza. Scientists have found that the Great Pyramid has a giant cavity within it. This great void stretches for 30 meters, right about the Queen’s chamber.
Was it meant to be a corridor, a chamber for treasures, or does it add structural value to the construction of the pyramid? Scientists used powerful scanners to discover this mysterious void deep within the monument, and maybe it holds the answers to all our questions.
On the outside, the Great Pyramid may look like a relatively simple triangular structure that’s rising to meet the sky, but from within, there is nothing simplistic about it. As of now, scientists have discovered three inter-connected chambers inside it.
The lowest chamber is embedded within the bedrock; it’s also called the subterranean chamber. Above it is the Queen’s chamber, then the King’s chamber, which is built higher up. A structure called the grand gallery connects them all. Outside there are two mortuary temples to honor King Khufu. There’s also a smaller ‘satellite’ pyramid along with another set of tombs that surround it.
The River Nile gave rise to the mighty ancient kingdom of Egypt. For some historians, it makes sense that the Pyramids of Giza were built so close to the banks of the river.
However, the Pyramids were constructed there to stay close to a source of water. There was a more in-depth spiritual meaning behind their location, as it was discovered. These structures are located at the west bank of the Nile, i.e., where the sunsets. This area symbolized the realm of the dead to the ancient Egyptians.
The more we learn about the Pyramids of Giza, the more we understand that the ancient Egyptians were way ahead of their time. These immense structures were built to be entirely earthquake-proof, and remain cool inside.
Even though these pyramids are built in the scorching desert of Sahara, the inside temperature never rises above a cold 20 degrees Celsius, keeping everything safe from the harsh arid heat for hundreds of years.
Archeologists discovered a giant coffer inside the main chamber of the Great Pyramid. That is to be expected. It is supposed to be a fancy catacomb, after all. However, upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the entire coffer was carved out from one piece of granite.
The mystery began to take shape as people realized that none of the entrances to the pyramid were large enough to accommodate this structure. So how did it end up inside the tomb? And why? There was no way it would have fit through any of the passageways, either. This strongly suggests that the Great Pyramid was built around this granite coffer.
Scientists and historians have been studying the Pyramids for several hundred years now. It is surprising to find out that they are yet to figure out what’s holding these structures together. The mortar or the ‘glue’ that was used to join these massive rocks is still an unidentified material.
Researchers know its chemical composition, but they haven’t been able to recreate it in lab conditions. It is believed to be harder and stronger than the actual stones it’s holding together.
The hidden chamber found inside the largest pyramid of Giza has baffled scientists since its discovery. The more it was studied, the weirder the explanations became. Some believed it to be the treasure chamber of King Khufu, as space is so massive that it must have held more treasures that found with King Tutankhamun. However, no traces of wealth were ever found in or around this area.
Another theory is that it was a mere technical feature in the construction of the Pyramid, resolving a structural problem that is inherent with building large pyramids. Others, however, believe that the mysterious void could have been the partition path between the King’s chamber and the Queen’s chamber below.
Historians and archeologists have found some clues about how these giant structures were built but are baffling to see that the ancient Egyptians left no documentation about they achieved this magnificent feat. They wanted the Pyramids to demonstrate the divinity and power of the Pharaohs.
The Great Pyramid is 13-acre wide at the base, and it is 479 feet high. The 2.3 million limestone blocks correctly form the pyramid, creating one of the most ostentatious displays of wealth in the history of humanity. The people of ancient Egypt were in awe of their rulers for building these pyramids, and now thousands of years later, we can’t have enough of them.
Egypt is suffering through a wave of bombings and terrorism, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of tourists who want to see the Pyramids of Giza for themselves. More than 5 million people visited the site last year.
Most visitors would fit into either of two categories; they want to cross Egypt off their bucket list and don’t let anything get in their way, or they are qualified Egyptologists, archeologists, and historians who cannot resist the mysterious pull of this relic.
Do you know the Seven Wonders of the World? The ancient wonders include the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Olympic Statue of Zeus, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria and of course the Pyramids of Giza.
All the other beautiful structures have perished in the sands of time, but the Pyramids of Giza stand proud, laughing at the time itself.
Professor Giulio Magli of Milan Polytechnic has reason to believe that the Great Pyramid is hiding a throne carved out of meteoric iron. In 1922, archeologists discovered a dagger made from meteoric iron in Kink Tut’s pyramid.
Since then, the search is on for King Khufu’s profound space secret weapon, and there is a good reason to believe that it may be a throne. “In (Pyramid) texts, it is said that the pharaoh, before reaching the stars of the north, will have to pass the ‘gates of the sky’ and sit on his ‘throne of iron,’” says Giulio Magli.
The Pyramids have captured the imagination of millions of people for many thousands of years. For the past 100 years or so, these structures have repeatedly appeared in movies and videos across the world. The enigma of the ancient Egyptian culture and the grandeur of their kingdom has given rise to many stories that have been transferred to the big screen.
We’ve all seen Hollywood flicks like The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Stargate, to name a few. The Great Pyramid also made an appearance in The Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and X-Men: Apocalypse. The animated musical The Prince of Egypt revolved around Ancient Egypt from the perspective of the Bible.
Recently, historians found some new evidence to suggest that the locals didn’t visit the Pyramids unless they were showing it off to a guest, i.e., someone who was new to the area. This sheds new light on the overall culture and traditions of Ancient Egypt.
Researchers from University College London unearthed new papyrus rolls that endorse this story. According to Professor Sidney Colliver, “Recently unearthed papyrus rolls dating from 2400 B.C. confirm that most Egyptians of the time went to the pyramids of Giza once as a kid and thought they were pretty cool, but seldom returned to the majestic tombs unless they had a buddy visiting who had never been there before.”
The Pyramids were burial grounds for the kings, and the ancient Egyptians buried great treasures with their royalty to ensure that their afterlives remain comfortable and worry-free. Unfortunately, Egyptologists could never find any of those treasures as desert thieves had already robbed the Pyramids hundreds of years before they were officially excavated.
The illegal activity around the Pyramids has robbed the world of some great finds. Authors such as Briar and Hobbs think that “all the pyramids were robbed” by the New Kingdom. It is also believed that stone that made up the slope to the foundations of the Great Pyramid was stolen.
It is no secret that the River Nile made the ancient Egyptian kingdom rich beyond all imagination. However, the river used to flow a lot closer to the pyramids back then. Mark Lehner, the prominent archeologist, and Egyptologist discovered the remnants of a port quite close to the site.
It is thought that the slave builders lived on massive ramps that connected the port to the pyramids. This way, they could easily transport the stones into place on a pyramid as it was being built. Lehner’s team also found ‘The Lost City’ a little farther away from the port. This used to be a bustling neighborhood where the slaves lived.
In 2013, an ancient roll of papyrus was unearthed in a cave near Wadi-al-Jarf. Finally, archeologists and historians had found some first-hand information about the construction of the Pyramid.
The papyrus is the oldest of its kind as it has been carbon-dated and found to be more than 4,500 years old. The hieroglyphics, written on it, reveal never-before-known information about how the pyramids were built.
Pierre Tallet was the industrious archeologist who found the papyrus with details of the pyramid’s construction. He had discovered them in caves that had been carved into limestone hills far away in a remote part of the Egyptian desert. These were entire rolls of papyrus that were still intact despite being thousands of years old.
Tallet knew that he had the earliest papyri known to humanity and that he had, in fact, changed the face of Egyptology forever. But his work had only just begun as Tallet spent the next decade deciphering and translating the hieroglyphics and hieratic on these rolls. He had to find out what exactly was written on them.
It turns out that Tallet’s Papyri were more like a diary maintained by an ancient Egyptian official who went by the name of Merer. He used to travel across Egypt, making deliveries and picking up information as he went along. He noted in his diary the exact details of how the pyramids were built.
Merer wrote that the workers transported 170,000 tons of limestone along the river Nile, from Tura to Giza. He accounted that it took many thousands of men to build the Great Pyramid.
Merer wrote that the workers first created an intricate canal system from the River Nile to the site of the construction of the Pyramids of Giza. This is how they were able to transport the materials efficiently to the site.
The Pyramids of Giza were built quickly, efficiently, and required minimal downtime. These structures indeed are a feat of engineering, as Merer told us in his memoirs.
The diary of Merer also reveals important information about the ruler of the time, Pharaoh Khufu. It is written that Khufu himself told the engineers that he wanted the tomb to be adorned in limestone from Tura.
Merer also wrote about reporting to the ‘noble Ankh-haf’ who was not only Pharaoh Khufu’s half-brother. He was in charge of some areas of the construction of the Great Pyramid when Merer met him.
Pierre Tallet and Official Merer’s collaboration across 4,500 years brought us new information about the Pyramids of Giza. And then acting on this new-found information, Mark Lehner set out to find the lost waterways of Giza as described by Merer.
Soon enough, Lehner and his team of archeologists found it. “We’ve outlined the central canal basin, which we think was the primary delivery area to the foot of the Giza Plateau,” says Lehner. Now, researchers have the Diary of Merer, Khufu’s solar barge, and whereabouts of the lost waterway to prove the Pyramids’ origins.
Tallet, Lehner, and countless other archeologists and historians are now working on verifying the facts that were unconfirmed for thousands of years. The diary of Merer disclosed the fact that boats and canals played an essential role in the building of the Pyramids of Giza.
Granite and limestone were brought in from Aswan and Tura to build the Great Pyramid, and it was also revealed that close associates of the Pharaoh played a role in overseeing the construction.
From the days of the Greek Egyptologist Herodotus to the Czech Egyptologist Miroslav Verner to everyone else who came after them, their love for ancient Egypt has connected them all through the millennia
Despite their groundbreaking discoveries and comprehensive theories, a lot’s left to be discovered about ancient Egypt. While some of its biggest perplexities have been unlocked, inspiring archeologists are working hard to unearth the next big secret of Egyptology.
The Pyramids of Giza are an architectural masterpiece that has taught humanity many lessons in engineering and planning.
They also show us the power of the ancient faith and the extent of the Pharaoh’s wealth.