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About Pyramids Of Giza

During the Old Kingdom, Egyptian civilization really came of age. The power of Egypt expanded considerably through the four dynasties of the Old Kingdom. This was probably due in part to the increasing centralization of government and the creation of an efficient administrative system. The concept of kingship changed too, with greater emphasis being placed on the the divine nature of the office. The king was considered to the incarnation of Horus, and from the fifth dynasty, son of the sun god Re. At the same time, the advances begun in previous centuries, in building, technology, hieroglyphic writing and artistic representation, reached new heights in the Old Kingdom. This can be seen best in the spectacular program of pyramid construction, which reached its height in the 4th Dynasty. Djoser's step pyramid at Saqqara, the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza and the Sphinx are among the most remarkable structures in the world.

The earliest important pharaoh of the 3rd Dynasty (2686-2613 B.C.E.) is Djoser, who had to overcome political infighting. Djoser probably managed to extend his rule as far south as Aswan, at the First Cataract on the Nile, which later became the official southern boundary of Egypt. The name Djoser appears only in later records, and is thought to have been his birth name. The pharaohs had up to 5 names, not all of them are known. Djoser's Horus name was Netjerikhet, which was used on all his monuments. 

The Great Pyramid, as it is known, was originally 481 feet, and over 4500 years was the tallest building in the world. All resources were channeled into the building of his pyramid, and it was said that it took 20 years to build at a cost of 1600 talents, or $7.5 million. Just how it was built is not known. Some have speculated that a straight ramp was built that stretched far out into the desert to drag the stones up, others saying that a spiraling ramp was built around the pyramid that grew in height as the pyramid did. Small models of a pulley system have been found, that when built up, allowed for 3 men to easily lift blocks of stone weighing over 2000 pounds. A larger system could have allowed 7 or 8 men to lift stones the size of those used on the Great Pyramid. 

The exterior of the pyramid was cased with white Tura Limestone, which was later scavenged during the Middle Ages to build Cairo. To the east of the pyramid stood a Mortuary Temple measuring 171 x 132 feet, and on the bank of the Nile a Valley Temple was built. Nothing but the basalt floor remains of the Mortuary Temple, and the Valley Temple is now under a modern village. Nobles and courtiers were buried around the pyramid.
In 1925 the tomb of Queen Hetepheres was found on the eastern side of the pyramid at the bottom of a 99 foot shaft. It remained exactly as it had when sealed in antiquity. Its contents included a large alabaster sarcophagus with a canopic chest, various gold, alabaster and copper vessels, and a quantity of furniture, including a large dismantled canopy frame, two armchairs, a bed and a carrying chair, all of which have been reconstructed.  Her sarcophagus was empty, but it had been used as her viscera were still in the canopic chest. It seems that her original tomb near her husband Snefru had been robbed and Khufu had a new tomb dug for her. However none of the priests wanted to be the one to tell the king that the body of his mother had been destroyed, so they resealed her sarcophagus and buried it.

In 1954 another discovery was made next to the Great Pyramid. On the southern face of the pyramid, a pit was discovered with the remains of an intact wooden ship. Made of cedar, probably from Lebanon, the boat measured 141 feet. It had been dismantled to fit into the pit, and was in 650 parts when discovered. It was reconstructed and is now in a museum around the pit that it was found in. Another pit lies nearby, but undisturbed.


Sites To Visit
Sharm El Sheikh
Western Oasis
The Egyptian Museum
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