There are some pyramids on Earth that are truly gigantic structures. The most famous pyramids on Earth is perhaps the Great Pyramid of Giza; an ancient monument believed to have been built some 4,500 years ago during Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty.
Egyptologists maintain that the Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as “Khufu’s Horizon” and The Great Pyramid of Khufu,” was built as the eternal resting place for the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu.
Once completed, this pyramid became the largest pyramid in Egypt, and never would a king in Egypt replicate the monument Khufu is believed to have commissioned.
The massive monument was constructed using approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone, the Great Pyramid of Giza was supposedly completed in a period spanning no more than 20 years. In this period, the builders hired by Khufu are thought to have constructed a pyramid that would remain unmatched in history.
Although not the largest in terms of volume, the Great Pyramid of Giza remained the tallest man-made structure on the surface of the planet for more than 3,800 years.
Of all the ancient wonders of the world, the Great Pyramid is the only one still standing today.
It is estimated that the Great Pyramid of Giza has a total weight of around 6.5 million tons. Despite this, it is not the most voluminous pyramid on Earth. That honor belongs to the Great Pyramid of Cholula, a massive ancient monument built by an ancient civilization contemporaneous with the builders of Teotihuacan.
Nonetheless, the Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the most unique pyramids ever built on the surface of the planet. Compared to all other ancient pyramids in Egypt, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only eight-sided pyramid in existence. Furthermore, it is the only pyramid in Egypt that was built with both inner ascending and descending passages.
Despite having explored the pyramid for more than a hundred years, we have not been able to fully understand how, why, and when exactly it was built.
Despite the uncertainties connected to the pyramid, Egyptologists argue that the pyramid was built as a tomb for Khufu. Their evidence is based on a mark supposedly left being in an interior chamber, which “names” the supposed work gang that participated in the monument’s construction, making reference to the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu.
However, not one ancient text has been found to date that makes reference to the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Despite the fact that we have explored, excavated and studied the ancient Egyptian civilization and its remnants since antiquity, scholars have never come across an ancient document that makes any sort of reference to the building process of the pyramid.
Never have we found any ancient document, hieroglyphic inscription, or illustration that tells us how the pyramid was built. We are absolutely left awestruck by a complete lack of written records that mention the construction and transportation processes involved in building the pyramid.
Imagine, more than 4,500 years ago, the ancient Egyptian civilization constructed a structure unlike any other on Earth. Supermassive in size, and aligned with unparalleled precision, yet despite being an excellent record-keeping civilization, they decided not to document one of their greatest, most complex architectural achievements.
The precise alignments and combinations of mathematical formulas embedded into the Great Pyramid of Giza have left experts baffled:
The ratio of the perimeter to a height of 1760/280 Egyptian Royal cubits equates to 2π to an accuracy of better than 0.05 percent (corresponding to the well-known approximation of π as 22/7). Some Egyptologists consider this to have been the result of intentional design proportion.
Egyptologist Miroslav Verner wrote about this incredible feature: “We can conclude that although the ancient Egyptians could not precisely define the value of π, in practice, they used it.”
Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie seemed to agree that advanced, complex, and deliberate planning was at play when the Great Pyramid of Giza was designed, “but these relations of areas and of circular ratio are so systematic that we should grant that they were in the builder’s design.”
According to recent estimates investigating the construction of the Great Pyramid, experts believe that more than 5.5 million tons of limestone, 8,000 tons of granite, and more than 500,000 tons of mortar were used by the builders to complete the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Some of the construction material–the 8,000 tons of granite–were transported to Giza from quarries located more than 800 kilometers away.
When studying the Great Pyramid of Giza, Petrie found much to wonder about. While analyzing the casing stones of the pyramid, the Egyptologist was left awestruck by their design and precision. Petrie related the precision of the casing stones as being “equal to opticians’ work of the present day, but on a scale of acres” and “to place such stones in exact contact would be careful work, but to do so with cement in the joints seems almost impossible.”
Various construction theories have tried answering the question “how the pyramid was built, more than 4,500 years ago, without technologies or tools other than sleds, stones, and sticks.
Many disagree on whether the blocks were dragged, lifted, or even rolled into place, mostly because there are no records left behind by its builders.
Egyptologists suggest that instead of slaves, the pyramid was built by skilled workers. The precision and complexity of the pyramid support this idea. Verner argues that the builders were organized into a hierarchy, consisting of two gangs of 100,000 men, divided into five zaa or phyle of 20,000 men each.
This, however, is mostly guesswork, as is nearly everything else related to the construction of the pyramid. In addition to the fact that the building process itself was left undocumented, another mystery is the pyramid’s planning.
Egyptologist John Romer argues that the Egyptians may have used the same methods that were used in the construction of earlier and later construction, and that the builders of the Great pyramid probably laid out parts of the plant on the ground at a one-to-one scale.
Romer explains that “such a working diagram would also serve to generate the architecture of the pyramid with precision unmatched by any other means.”
Despite the fact that the origin and exact purpose of the Great Pyramid of Giza remain shrouded in mystery, future studies such as the ScanPyramids project may help reveal the secrets this gigantic monument has been hiding for thousands of years.
Until these enigmas are revealed once again to the world, we can only admire the majestic monument and appreciate the legacy left behind by its builders.
And what better way to appreciate the true size and beauty of the pyramids, than by seeing what they look like from space, from a perspective that the ancient Egyptians probably never imagined would be possible, above the sky, right there from where their ancient gods originated from.
Here are ten images of the ancient Egyptian pyramids taken from space.