The Egyptian Pyramids
CONSTRUCTION OF THE PYRAMID OF GIZEH
The pyramids of Gizeh were built during the period of the Ancient Empire, by the Pharaoh of the fourth dynasty (2613 to 2498 BC). The motive for using the triangular form in these constructions is not known, though it could be a way of reproducing the form of mountains where, for the ancient Egyptians, the Gods lived, or they could also be understood as staircases by which the spirit of the Pharaoh would reach the skies.
They are located in a rocky area, above the quarry itself from which the blocks of limestone of lower quality were extracted, used for the nucleus of the pyramids. The cladding of white limestone proceeds from the quarries of Tura; passing through the Nile towards the south, and the granite used in the construction of the corridors and the funerary chambers came from Assuan, 800 kilometres away. The pyramids are located on the west bank of Nile river and were connected to the river by means of elevated roads of stone, built to facilitate the transport of the stones which came from the quarries.
It has been calculated that with the blocks used for the construction of the three pyramids of Gizeh one could make a wall of 3 metres height of 30 cm thickness going all around France. In the biggest of them all, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, 2,300,000 blocks of limestone were used, with weight of each block weighing between 2 to 15 tons. It has a width of 230 metres in each one of the four sides and a height of 146 metres. The pyramids of Khafre, son of Cheops, is slightly smaller : 215 metres wide and 143 metres high, and that of Menkevre, grandson of Cheops, is the smallest:103 metres wide and 66 metres high.
The pyramid of Cheops is the biggest monument of stone ever built. Within the pyramid there would be room for, for example, five cathedrals put together : that of Florence, of Milan, of Saint Peter in Rome, and the two in London, that of Saint Paul and Westminster. Probably, before constructing the pyramids tests on scale were done, since scale drawings have been found. The first phase of the work consisted in making the terrain even. Something that is very striking is the geometric precision that permitted the perfect alienation of blocks ( something that did not occur in the pyramid of Sneferu, as we have seen). Each side measures 230 metres and is oriented perfectly towards the four cardinal points.
It is believed that for constructing the pyramid of Cheops 20 years were needed for preparing the blocks and 10 years for their installation. Work was done only when the Nile rose, when it was not possible to work in the fields. There are different theories about who and in how much time the pyramids were built. According to the historian Herodotus ( who visited Egypt in the century 5 AC), in the construction of the Great Pyramid about 100,000 people worked in sessions of 3 months a year, but the most recent theories sustain there were 4000 people.
The blocks of the pyramids fit into each other with great precision. This makes one think that the polishing of the blocks was done after the installation. The quarries wee close to the river, therefore, the transport of blocks was done in rafts on the Nile. The transport to the pyramid was then done by means of an elevated path made of stone, a path that was later used in the funerary processions.
The line of blocks were placed seemingly from inside to outside. To raise the blocks, probably a system of ramps was used and the stones were hauled over them by mans of skates. It is also possible that scaffolding was used for installation of the limestone. Of this cladding the only remains can be found in the upper part of the pyramid of Khafre. It is believed that the polishing of the cladding was done from the top to the base. What is certain is that in the constructions of these pyramids metal tools were not used, nor motors or wheels.
Almost 5000 years later, the funerary complex of Gizeh, with the enigmatic Sphinx constructed on a mountain of limestone of 5 x 4 metres presiding ( what is supposed to represent the Pharaoh Khafre, though this is only a theory), continues to be witness to all the history of Humanity. Increasingly the following assertion sounds more real " Man fears time, but time fears the pyramids."