For many years people have marvelled at the pyramids of Egypt, how they were built and exactly what they mean. An in depth look at one of the seven wonders of the world reveals that the Egyptians were experts in their field and able to build these mammoth landmarks to such a high level that it actually beggars belief.
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as Khufu’s Pyramid, Pyramid of Khufu and Pyramid of Cheops) was built for King Khufu who was a Fourth dynasty Egyptian King. While the construction of the phenomenon was completed in 2560BC it actually took 20 years to complete and remained the world’s tallest structure for nearly 4,000 years.
To get an idea of the size of the Pyramid for those who have never been to the region, it covers an area of nearly 14 acres and each side covers an area of more than 5 acres. However, this is where the really startling facts begin to fall into place!
There is some debate as to the exact number of stones used in the construction with estimates of between 2.3 million and 5 million which gives you an idea of the size and complexity of the structure. While the inner structure is a mixture of complex passages, rooms and secret caverns the outer layer of the Great Pyramid of Giza was covered by around 144,000 casing stones.
Each casing stone weighed in the region of 15 tons, was over 100 inches thick, polished to an accuracy of some 1/100th of an inch and placed at perfect right angles to the stone blocks used in the main pyramid structure. It is believed that these stones were used to protect the pyramid from the heat of the sun, the strong winds, chill of the winter and harsh desert storms. Unfortunately there are no casing stones left attached to the pyramid today with suggestions that general wear and tear and a number of earthquakes caused the stones to break loose and detach themselves from the structure.
Computer analysis of the structure shows that each casing stone was placed with an accuracy of 5/1000ths of an inch with an intentional gap of 2/100ths of an inch left for the mortar which was used to hold the whole structure together. Interestingly the mortar used has been tested, broken down and analysed but nobody has yet been able to find the components to reproduce an exact mix.
The more standard stones which actually formed the main structure of the pyramid were between 2 and 39 tons in weight but there is evidence that some of the stones weighed as much as 70 tons. How these were positioned and actually brought to the site is still something of a mystery which we shall cover below.
While there is much debate about where the limestone based building blocks came from and how they were transported to the region, two theories seem to take centre stage. The first theory is that the actual stone blocks were built on site using nearby materials but the second theory suggests that the stones were transported from nearby limestone quarries when the Nile river was flooded. Whichever of the two theories, or any other method, is true there is no doubting that it was a phenomenal effort and a masterpiece in construction and organisation.
It has been recognised as almost certain that the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed using a workforce of 100,000 men who were split into two teams of 50,000 and sub-teams depending on the specific skills of the members. Originally it had been thought that the workforce consisted of slaves captured in nearby battles but the modern theory is that it was an early form of state labour or a way of paying off taxes due to the government. The idea that these men were dragging huge lumps of stone up and down these massive constructions each and every day for twenty years (minimum) is something which we in the modern era could not even start to comprehend.
While we will cover the actual internal designs of the Great Pyramid of Giza, and how they managed to add so many secret passages and rooms, in a later article there is still the matter of how the paper design of the pyramids was actually replicated in real life. How did they manage to lay the first stones so perfectly in order to give the structure its base?
Even though nobody is quite sure how they managed to stick with the design so closely it is believed that a 1 to 1 base structure was produced and laid on the ground where the pyramid was built. The initial stones were then laid on top of the actual plans and the construction took shape from there
When reading about the construction of the pyramids you will come across a measurement which is commonly referred to as Pyramid Inches (PI). For reference a PI is 1.00106 British inches or 2.5426924 centimetres which shows perfectly how much of an influence the ancient Egyptians have on our world even today.
The base of the Great Pyramid of Giza is not square and is in fact a four pointed star with each side of the pyramid sloping inwards towards the base of the pyramid. While not visible to the naked eye this deliberate design is only visible from the sky at certain times of the day
In order to house the massive workforce, who on average placed 800 tonnes of stone on the pyramid each and every day, there is evidence of a number of villages in the area where workers ate, sleep and rested. In 1990 archaeologists Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner discovered what is thought to be a workers cemetery which was the final resting place of the thousands who died building the Great Pyramid of Giza.
How much would it cost to build the Great Pyramid of Giza today?
Aside from the cost of 46 million tons of limestone and the mortar used to secure the stones, can you even guess the cost of the labour force at today’s market rates?
100,000 workers at 35 hour week x 52 weeks x 20 years = 3,640,000,000 working hours
At today’s minimum wage rate of £4.77 for 18 to 21 years olds (although the workers would have actually worked for 20 years) that equates to a labour cost of some £17,362,800,000 before even taking into consideration the design and others who worked on the project.
We think that the information and the figures speak for themselves!