Unwritten Mystery: Why No Ancient Texts Mention the Great Pyramid or its Purpose

What if we still have not uncovered the true purpose of the Great Pyramid?

The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza is attributed to the ancient Egyptian civilization. Egyptologists argue that at around 2560 BC, the Egyptian finished the Great Pyramid of Giza, designed and built as the eternal resting place for Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu.

The Pyramid of Khufu also called “Khufu’s Horizon” in ancient times, is the oldest, largest, and most massive of the three pyramids standing at the Giza plateau part of the greater Giza pyramid complex.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is believed to have been commissioned by Khufu based on a series of marks that have been supposedly discovered within the pyramid’s chambers. One of these marks has been translated and reads: “Khufu’s Friends,” supposedly describing a group of people who participated in the construction of the pyramid.

The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, photograph by C. Zangaki ca. 1880. Shutterstock.
The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, photograph by C. Zangaki ca. 1880. Shutterstock.

But other than the marks found inside the pyramid, not much is known about the pyramid and its construction. We know that the competition of the Great Pyramid of Giza marked the peak of ancient Egyptian Pyramid building and that for years, centuries and millennia to follow, no other building in Egypt would pair with the Great Pyramid of Giza in terms of size, design, complexity, and mystery.

And the mystery surrounding the most famous of all pyramids is well deserved.

Despite having studied the pyramid of Khufu for centuries, scholars have been unable to crack its mystery.

How was the pyramid built? What kind of technology did the ancient Egyptians make use of ( I am not talking about aliens)? How did they quarry the massive blocks of stone and chisel them down to perfection? What kind of logistics were involved? And how did they move the blocks of stone across the desert? They didn’t have the wheel, so was everything achieved by means of force? They made use of the Nile River, yes, but how where the massive stones placed on the boats and then moved to land once the ships arrived at their destination?

The Great Pyramid of Cheops, IV Dynasty, ca. 2680 B.C. photograph by J. Pascal Sebah, ca. 1880. Shutterstock.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops, IV Dynasty, ca. 2680 B.C. photograph by J. Pascal Sebah, ca. 1880. Shutterstock.

When was the Pyramid exactly built, and can we be sure it was commissioned by Khufu? If the pyramid was really intended as the eternal resting place of the Pharaoh, why haven’t we found any traces of a tomb inside the pyramid? Where’s the Pharaoh’s mummy if the Pyramid was his eternal resting place? The only thing we have found in the alleged King’s Chamber is the remains of a terribly built granite sarcophagus that’s unworthy of a king.

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The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza was a behemoth construction process, pushing the limits of ancient Egyptian construction to an entirely new level. It was a project that left an imprint on the ancient Egyptian civilization for millennia to come. Then why have we not found any papyri, documents or hieroglyphs that mention how the pyramid was built? Who participated in its construction? And why can’t we find references to the building of the pyramid anywhere in Egypt?

Shutterstock.
Shutterstock.

The only possible reference we’ve ever discovered that might indicate a small part in the building of the pyramid is the so-called Merer Journal, a collection of ancient papyri–the oldest ever found in Egypt–dating back to the reign of Khufu. The journal written by a man called Merer tells us that he and his workers participated in the transportation of blocks of limestone from different quarries across Egypt to the Giza plateau via a cargo boat. Since Mere’s journal makes reference to Khufu, archeologists argue it was written during the Fourth Dynasty, around 2560-2570 BC.

Therefore, scholars have come to the conclusion that, since the papyri date back to the time when the pyramid was most-likely being built, and it mentions the Giza plateau and limestone, Merer and his crew most likely participated in the construction of the Great Pyramid, by transporting massive blocks of stone to the construction site. But despite this, there isn’t direct evidence that tells us that. There aren’t any writings that speak of the construction of the pyramid, how workers transported the blocks of stone, nor how the stacked them up to eventually form the Great Pyramid.

This is just crazy in my opinion.

You mean to tell me that the ancient Egyptians completed the most impressive construction project ever attempted in their history, and decided not to record a single word about it? Not a single phrase, hieroglyphics, word, image, mentions the construction of the pyramid. There aren’t any records that mention for who the Pyramid was built and what its purpose was. The only thing we do know is that it is a massive stone structure, unlike any other stone monument on Earth. We know that its builders used 2.3 million blocks of stone to build it. We know that for 3,800 years after it was completed, it remained the tallest building in the world. And there isn’t a single piece of written evidence that mentions its construction.

The stones of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Shutterstock.
The stones of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Shutterstock.

We also know that unlike other pyramids across Egypt, the Great Pyramid is the only one that has both ascending and descending passageways. Furthermore, the ScanPyramids project has proven that there’s still much we don’t know about the pyramid. In 2017, they scanned Khufu’s pyramid using muon radiography and found that there is at least one hidden chamber inside the pyramid that was previously unknown.

Dubbed “the Big Void,” the mystery chamber has a length of 30 meters (98 ft), its cross-section appears similar in design to the Grand Gallery.  The exact purpose of the chamber remains a mystery, although some researchers suggest the void may have been used during the construction of the pyramid.

But since we don’t have any writings about the pyramid whatsoever, we can’t possibly understand what its purpose was.

For all we know, there could be many other voids and undetected chambers inside the Pyramid. But then again, that’s the problem we are faced when studying the pyramid.

There’s only so much we can find by excavating and exploring ancient Egypt.

The Great Sphinx with the Pyramid of Pharaoh Cheops in the background. 1877 photo by French photographer Henri Bechard. Shutterstock.
The Great Sphinx with the Pyramid of Pharaoh Cheops in the background. 1877 photo by French photographer Henri Bechard. Shutterstock.

And while archeological excavations in the past have revealed a plethora of information about the possible functions and meaning of the pyramid, we can’t conclude anything as almost everything we know about the pyramid is based off of theories and assumptions.

No direct evidence can back up these theories.

For example, it is widely claimed that all three pyramids at the Giza plateau were intended as tombs for the Pharaohs. And while all three structures are majestic and worthy of a god, never have archeologists found a single piece of evidence that may suggest the pyramids at Giza served as tombs.

In fact, all three pyramids, that of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure lack their corresponding mummies. In other words, never have we found the pyramids to contain the mummified remains of the Pharaohs. Not only that, we haven’t found inside the pyramids a room that is worthy of a Pharaoh either.

Scholars argue that the burial chambers inside the pyramids were looted a long time ago and that their contents, including the mummies, were taken by grave robbers and are since lost to history. But why on Earth would you steal a mummy? I mean even thousands of years ago, it would have no made any sense, just as it doesn’t make any sense today.

Does this look like a King's burial chamber? Se any inscriptions or hieroglyphs?
Does this look like a King’s burial chamber? Se any inscriptions or hieroglyphs?

But let’s just stop there for a minute and say that that’s true and that looters actually stole everything, including the mummies, from inside the burial chambers of the pyramids.

Then why on Earth are those alleged burial chambers lacking any inscriptions? Markings? Where are the impressive hieroglyphs and images that the ancient Egyptians are so famous for?

Compare some of the other ancient Egyptian tombs across Egypt with the interior of the pyramids. Tombs across Egypt are intricately decorated with images of the Pharaoh’s, the ancient Egyptian gods, and scenes of the afterlife. Take for example the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and compare it to the above image of the King’s chamber inside the Great Pyramid and ask yourself, does it look like a burial chamber worthy of a king?

The decorated interior of King Tutankhamun's tomb. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.
The decorated interior of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.

The answer is no, it doesn’t. It looks empty. It looks cold, and there aren’t any signs or clues that suggest that there ever were intricate, beautiful hieroglyphs inside it.

Despite the fact that the Great Pyramid of Giza is the most impressive pyramid ever built, there are no ancient texts mentioning it or its exact purpose. There are no clues or tell-tale signs that may hint at the existence of hieroglyphs, or for that matter anything else related to a well-built ancient Egyptian tomb.

The ancient Egyptians built a stone monument with a total volume of 2,583,283 cubic meters (91,227,778 cu ft), supposedly as a tomb, and then what? Forgot to decorate the burial chamber in their typical manner?

I believe that we have not seen the entire picture when it comes to the interior of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Either the monument was not intended to serve as a tomb (for that matter all three pyramids at Giza), or there are voids, chambers, and tunnels beneath and inside the pyramid that have not yet been found, and could possibly reveal the true purpose of the Pyramid.

I am Ivan Petricevic, and this is a small excerpt from my upcoming book, Pyramidomania: a world of Pyramids.