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The Great Pyramid
"Khufu's Horizon"

Giza - The Places

The Facts and Figures

Tallest Monument in the World from 2560BC to 1311AD
Oldest of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World

Built: 4th Dynasty, during the Old Kingdom Period; built over approx. 15-20 years
Type: True Pyramid
Materials Used: 5,500,000 tonnes of Limestone; 8,000 tonnes of Granite; 500,000 tonnes of Mortar. 2.3 million blocks of Granite and Limestone. The Limestone was Tura Limestone, and this was used for the Pyramid’s Casing. It was quarried on the opposite side of the Nile and transported over by Boat. The Granite used to adorn the Pharaoh’s Burial Chamber were quarried in Aswan, approx. 800km south, and again were transported by Boat.
Architect: Prince, High Priest and Vizier to Pharaoh Khufu, Hemiunu
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Average Error in stone placement: 58mm or 0.58cm
Height: 146.7m or 280 Cubits
Base: 230.3m or 440 Cubits
Volume: 2,583,283 Cubic Meters
Weight: 6 million tonnes from approx. 23,000,000 blocks
Part of: Memphis Necropolis
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Where: Located in Giza, now part of South West Cairo
Who: Erected for Pharaoh Khufu, as confirmed by graffiti found inside the Pyramid which was engraved by one of Pharaoh’s work crews

2.   Causeway: which allowed the transportation of Pharaoh’s Body as well as being used for Pharaoh’s Mortuary Cult i.e. Festivals and remembrances after his death and for use by his Priests and for Offerings: Scant remains of the Causeway

As with most other Mortuary Complex of the period, Pharaoh Khufu’s Mortuary Complex consisted of:

 

  1. Valley Temple: placed close to the Nile or one of its tributaries or canals: Regrettably, all that remains of the Valley Temple for Pharaoh Khufu is a part of Basalt Pavement as the rest of the Temple was buried under the village of Nazlet el-Samman.

3.    Funerary or Mortuary Temple: Where Pharaoh’s Cult continued after his death with a collection of Priests who carried out his daily and annual ritual Cult requirements. The Home of Pharaoh’s Ka on Earth:  Little remains of the Temple apart from its Basalt Pavement. It measured 52.2m long from North to South and 40m wide from East to West

4.   Pharaoh’s Pyramid: Burial place of Pharaoh:

  • Construction: the current thinking leans towards an approx. workforce of 14,500 people working per day in teams to avoid burn out. This should equal a rotating workforce total of approx. 40,000 people taking approx. 10-14 years to complete the Pyramid itself.
  • Entrance: On the North Face, 17m above the ground level which then descend downwards in a Corridor which is just under 1m high and just over 1m wide, decreasing at an angle of 26 degrees, and continues for 105m. Afterward, it continues at a flatter level for a further nearly 9m before it enters the Lower Chamber which appears unfinished. Some Egyptologists believe that this is due to Pharaoh Khufu changing his mind, and deciding he wanted a higher chamber for his Burial Chamber.Today, any visitors enter the Pyramid via the Robber’s Tunnel which was probably restored during Pharaoh Ramses II’s Restoration Program, which was handled by his son, Crown Prince Khaemwaset, High Priest of Ptah at Memphis.
  • Ascending Passage: its was 39.3m long and angled to reach the Vertical Corridor or Grand Gallery. It is guarded by 3 Granite Blocks which are each approx. 1.5m long.
  • Grand Gallery: at the beginning of the Grand Gallery there is Corridor which leads to the Queen’s Chamber – see below for further details. The Grand Gallery is 8.6m high, 46.68m long and approx. 2.15m wide which differs along its length. The Gallery merges into a horizontal passageway which squares out to just over 1m high and 1m wide. In the ceiling there are 4 slots which seem to have originally contained 4 Granite Guard doors, these now seem to be missing. Above the Grand Gallery is a space currently called the “Big Void” which continues to be investigated. After the Gallery is the King’s Chamber.

 

  • King’s Chamber: It’s 20 Royal Cubits long by 10 Royal Cubits wide, or 10.47m by 5.23m, and has a flat roof at a height of 5.85m. The King’s Chamber has shafts which are considered to be direct ways for the Pharaoh’s Ka to leave his body and reach the Afterlife in the Heavens.Within the Chamber is one object, a Granite Sarcophagus of which one corner is quite damaged. The Sarcophagus is undecorated and looks rather “rough” compared to other Sarcophagi of the same period. Nothing else has been found.Above the roof of the Chamber are 5 Compartments which have been labelled as the Relieving Chambers, with the final Chamber having a pointed roof. The Chambers are, from lowest to highest: Davison’s Chamber; Wellington’s Chamber; Nelson’s Chamber; Lady Arbuthnot’s Chamber and Campbell’s Chamber. These are thought to be architectural necessities to avoid any rood collapse due to weight. Graffiti has been found within these Chambers from the Group of Workers, known as “Gangs”, who left their marks and names in them.

 

  • Queen’s Chamber: its entering Corridor is 1.1m high. The Chamber itself is 5.75m long (North to South), 5.23m wide (East to West) and is graced with a pointed Roof structure at 6.23m high. The Queen’s North and South Walls has 2 Shafts which both run horizontally for 2m before sloping upwards for 65m and are then blocked by Limestone blocks which originally had Copper Handles attached to them. Behind the block is a further block and Egyptologists have been unable to run any further than this at present. The handles and decorative nature of the back of the blocks suggest that they held a fuller meaning for the Ancient Egyptians than we have yet ascertained.
  • Earthquake: a large earthquake shook Cairo and Giza in 1303AD which loosened much of the remaining outer Casing Stones. These were the repurposed within Cairo for Fortresses and Mosques by Sultan an-Nasir Hasan in 1356AD. Further Casing Stones were removed by Muhammad Ali Pasha and can now be seen in the Alabaster Mosque in Cairo

5.    Queen’s Pyramids: Pharaoh Khufu had 3 Queens buried on site with him

Pyramid of Queen Hetepheres: G1a
In the Photograph to the left, this is the Pyramid on the far left

Size: 30.5m originally
Material: Limestone core of 3 or 4 steps and then encased in Tura Limestone
Entrance: North Face of the Pyramid
Internal: Corridor descends to a small Burial Chamber, but no Sarcophagus was located inside, only a hidden Alabaster Canopic Box which contained the Canopic Jars for Queen Hetepheres
Complex: Included a small Mortuary Temple which faced the East Wall and a small Chapel

 

Thought to be the Pyramid of Queen Meritites: G1b
In the Photograph in the top left of this section, this is the Pyramid in the middle

Size: Originally approx. 30m
Material: Limestone core of 3 or 4 steps and then encased in Tura Limestone
Internal: Too damaged to be entered
Complex: it is believed to have included a small Mortuary Temple, but this cannot be certain

 

Pyramid of Queen Henutsen: G1c
In the Photograph in the top left of this section, this is the Pyramid is to the right

Size: Originally approx. 30m
Material: Limestone core of 3 steps and then encased in Tura Limestone
Internal: Corridor descends to a small Burial Chamber which is lined with Limestone, but no Sarcophagus was located inside

6.   Solar Boats: Pharaoh had 3 Solar Boats buried in pits on site with him.

There are 4 Solar Boat Pits surrounding Pharaoh’s Pyramid, although only 1 remaining Boat has been located. It has 1,224 individual pieces of wood ranging between 10cm to 23m long. 

After reconstruction, it was confirmed that the Solar Boats, if all the same as the one remaining in situ, were made from Cedar Wood and were approx. 43.6m long

Looters:
Differing possibilities have been floated but it is viable that the Pyramid was robbed of any “valuables”, financial or historical, in the Ancient Egyptian Period. Potentially even before the end of the Old Kingdom

 

Locale:
The Artisans: located in the 1970s, the Artisans appear to have been housed within the South Field area of the Plateau, as mudbricks seals bearing Khufu’s Cartouche were located here.

Cult Practitioners: appear to have been lodged in Mudbrick Housing south of the Valley Temple.

The Workers for Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure: known today as “the Lost City” was discovered outside the Wall of the Crow which bordered the Giza Complex

Other Settlements: Barracks for Soldiers have been found adjacent to the Pyramid Complex of Pharaoh Khufu. These were joined by a Port and a prominent Town

Worker’s Cemetery: identified in 1990 south of the Wall of the Crown and was in use for the time period which covered the building of all the Complexes in the Giza Necropolis and on until the end of the 5th Dynasty