As one of the seven wonders of the world, The Great Pyramid of Giza is a site of ancient history, mystery and inspiration. Built between 2589 and 2504 BC, the tombs are relics of Egypt’s Old Kingdom era and Egypt’s pharaohs were expected to become gods in the afterlife so had the pyramids constructed to contain everything they would need for that next life.
With the Pyramids dating back over 4,500 years, there is so much mystery surrounding them with strange occurrences happening to those exploring them. While so much is unexplained, there are a few secrets which we managed to uncover.
All work, no rest
The Architect for the Great Pyramid of Giza was Pharaoh Khufu’s vizier, but he didn’t lift a finger in any of the work. When the Pyramid was first constructed, it measured at 146.5 meters, in comparison to today’s remains at 138.8 meters.
After extensive research by historians, it was found that in order for the Pyramid to be built within the 20 year time frame, it would have worked out that slaves placed 12 blocks per-hour. Truly back breaking work.
Although plenty of research by the famous Greek historian Herodotus has proved that the Pyramids were predominantly built by Egypt’s slaves, it turns out that there were others involved in the construction process.
There were other people who worked on the site, paid a good amount of money and were given food and water to keep them going throughout the day. Undoubtedly, those who were fed had vast amounts of energy to build, as opposed to the starving slaves.
Heavier than an elephant
To have any idea of how heavy one 2 to 50-ton stone block was, think about carrying an elephant on your back. There was no electric powered equipment to help the workers, everything was done by hand in sweltering temperatures.
It was estimated that over 100,00 men were involved in the project and 2 million bricks were used to construct one pyramid. When you consider how heavy it is, it is remarkable that the workers were even able to lift one brick.
20 ton doors
Considering the Pharaohs inside the tombs were supposed to be untouchable, it was only right that the heaviest possible doors were included to keep people out. One door on the pyramid weighs a huge 2 tons, but that doesn’t mean no one could open it.
The carefully thought out construction allowed for the doors to be balanced accordingly so that they could be opened with one hand. The doors weren’t intended to stand out, so they were camouflaged to fit in.
Sphinx the protector
The Sphnix was used often in ancient Egypt mythology to act as a guard and spiritual protector for anything that was deemed important to the Egyptians. With the body of a lion and the head of a human, it was supposed to be intimidating.
The Sphinx that sits next to the pyramids is a massive 65 feet 7 inches tall, 239 feet 6 inches long and 19 feet 8 inches wide. The Sphinx took years to build as it also needed to be carved properly.
Interior temperature control
In the summertime, temperatures in Giza can easily reach around 40 degrees in the day, resulting in many believing that the interior temperature of the pyramids is probably even higher.
It’s completely unknown how the Egyptians managed it, but the average temperature inside the pyramid is a cool and temperate 20 degrees. How the ancient engineers managed this is not known and just another mystery of the pyramids. The temperature control has also prevented the paintings inside from eroding.
Mortar secret ingredient
The Egyptians had worked out that the pyramids wouldn’t survive the elements without using mortar to keep all of the bricks in their given place. They managed to concoct a mysterious super adhesive mortar that has allowed it to last thousands of years through natural disasters and plenty of global warming and climate change.
With 5 million tons of blocks, plenty of mortar was needed, but scientists analysis still hasn’t proved what the Egyptians secret ingredient is.
Aligned to the True North
There was something about the Egyptians where they didn’t have the direct knowledge of science, but they somehow figured it out randomly. In regard to the pyramids, the Egyptians aligned the tip to the True North within the tenth of a degree.
Despite extensive research by scientists examining how they managed to do this, there is still no concrete proof. At this point we can only assume that they used the night sky as a guide.
Pyramids glistening in the desert
Today, the pyramids might just look like a stone construction in the desert, but it has been proved that when they were first built they used to be a gem of the Egyptian desert with the sunlight reflecting directly off them.
Initially, the pyramids were thoroughly polished with white limestone casing, almost diamond like. They were a direct representation of the stature and power of the Egyptian ancient dynasty, intimidating anyone who came within distance of them.
Along with the careful construction and magical mortar used, it is said that the curse of Pharaoh played a role in keeping the pyramids intact. Thieves and smugglers who tried to enter the pyramid in search of gold ended up being cursed, something that led to serious negative occurrences.
However, it wasn’t just thieves that ended up with bad karma, it was also given to archaeologists who studied the contents of the pyramids who regularly fell ill afterwards.
The location was carefully considered
With the careful construction that went into the pyramids, of course the Egyptians didn’t just choose the location of them randomly. They are situated on the West Bank of the River Nile, which according to Egyptian mythology was the land of the setting sun.
The Nile was sacred to the Egyptians so it would make sense that the pyramids intended for the Pharaohs would be placed in a special place. In addition, it was a convenient location to transfer materials to during construction.
The Pyramid Of Khafre
The Pyramid of Khafre gives off the illusion that it is in fact larger than the others, but this is actually not the case. It turns out that this particular pyramid was built on higher ground so it has a greater stature, but the actual construction is not bigger.
However, it is one of the most impressive pyramids in Giza and has visible elements of the original construction from thousands of years ago, giving us an insight as to what they used to look like.
The secret in the center
Inside the main chamber of the pyramid is a giant coffer, holding many valuables of the Pharaohs that they were built for. It was discovered that the coffer was much too big to be brought in the narrow entrance passage of the pyramid.
Instead, the coffer was placed in the center chamber and the stones were built around it. It must be incredibly valuable to have the whole construction built around it and hidden in the center.
Kurdish destruction plans
Many other kingdoms were intimidated by the impressive pyramids the Egyptians had built. The Kurdish in particular didn’t like that they made Egypt appear as strong and potentially more powerful than their own kingdom.
The King Al-Aziz, son of Saladin, a Kurdish ruler planned to destroy them altogether in the 12th century. Eventually, the plans were scuppered as they realized the task was too big and the construction was too strong. Nevertheless, they still left a gash on Menkaure’s pyramid.
The hidden hieroglyphics chamber
Heiroglyphics was the formal writing system used in ancient Egypt, combining logographic, syllabic and alphabetic elements, often found on Egyptian monuments. From this, people often relate hieroglyphics with the pyramids, but it turns out that there are no hieroglyphics visible in them.
It wasn’t until recently in 2011 that researchers sent a special robot into a secret chamber of the pyramids, where all the hieroglyphics were found. However, this chamber is out of bounds for visitors and cannot be seen on a tour.
The great shadow mystery
There are so many aspects of the pyramids that are undiscoverable by researchers and scientists, one of the most confusing being the lack of shadow time. Another use of the pyramids was that it acted as a sundial, one of the most sophisticated sundials in the world which indicated solstice and equinox.
Bizarrely, during springtime, the Great Pyramid of Giza has no shadow. It’s so geographically fixed that no matter where the sun is, there’s never a shadow around the pyramid.
The pyramids inspiration stone
In the temple in Heliopolis City, the most significant religious center for Egyptians, The Benben Stone was a pyramid shaped stone that was admired an honored. This stone and place of worship was at its most important during the construction of the Giza Pyramids.
It is widely believed that the shape of the stone was integral in the decision making process for the shape of the pyramids. The stone was also a symbol for the sun and the god of the sun.
Peak of the pyramids
The pyramid of Khufu was the last pyramid constructed by the Egyptians and was also the biggest one they ever made. It is the last remaining ancient wonder of the seven wonders of the world.
The last Pharaoh placed in the pyramid was Menkaure and historians believe that his ancestors were Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Khufu. They were the main three men who ruled Egypt during the construction of the last pyramids, overseeing the plans and employing the architects to design them.
The biggest treasure is still in there
Despite Pharaoh’s tomb being stripped of treasure and valuables a long time ago from raiders and thieves, the most valuable treasure still lies in there.
Archaeologists are unearthing an artifact that belonged to the king himself, a mighty ship completely dismantled for the Pharaoh to use in the afterlife. The dismantled pieces of wood are giving archaeologists a greater understanding that specially trained sailors transported the limestone bricks to the site of the pyramids using this boat.
What wasn’t inside
One of the greatest misconceptions about the pyramids was it’s contents. Experts had always believed that a mummy lied within the pyramids, but since it has been searched, absolutely no remains have been found. Nothing inside the pyramids ever suggested that one was placed there.
While there were no findings, raiders were known to have ransacked the pyramids for all the treasure, so perhaps there was a mummy and they had just taken it. Nonetheless, the mystery remains.
The other pyramids
The three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis are undoubtedly the most famous pyramids in the world, drawing in around 14.7 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited historical sites in the world.
Despite the pyramids being unique and impressive in their stature, it turns out that they are not the only ones in Egypt. In fact, there are as many as 140 pyramids in the area of Ancient Egypt, all built at different times by different Pharaohs.
The older pyramid
Even though the Giza pyramids are over 4,000 years old and there is much mystery surrounding them due to the fact they are so old, they are not actually the oldest standing pyramids.
The most ancient Egyptian pyramid is believed to be the Pyramid of Djoser which was built during the 27th century BC, around the area of the Saqqara Necropolis. Pharaoh’s of different times relied on the pyramids to carry them into the afterlife which is why they were constantly being built.
Used to be the tallest
For an unprecedented 3871 years, the Great Pyramid of Giza held the title of being the tallest structure in the world. Considering it was entirely man made and no electronic machinery was not around in ancient times, it is an incredibly impressive feat from the Egyptians.
The structure that took the tallest title from the Great Pyramid was the Lincoln Cathedral in England, built in 1311. Today, the enormous skyscrapers across the world dwarf the pyramids but it held it’s title for a record-breaking amount of time.
Taking it to the next life
Egyptians believed in the afterlife and everything they were buried with in the pyramids was expected to travel with them. Anything they thought would be needed in the next life would go into the pyramids.
Objects from jewelry and treasure to chariots and boats would be packed into the pyramids along with Pharaohs. People often say you can’t take things with your after you pass, but in the case of the Egyptians you totally could!
How they were built
For the most part, experts and historians agree on the prediction that the pyramids were constructed from huge stones that were carved using copper chisels from stone quarries.
However, the process by which the pyramids were put together and the stones moved is still a widely debated concept with many different opinions and theories. What we do know is that a special adhesive kept them together, but the whole construction process is still confusing to most.
How construction progressed
Throughout time, the Egyptians came up with innovative ways to construct the pyramids, instead of just using a huge force of men to carry huge bricks to and from the construction.
In later years, the pyramids were built very differently from the earlier ones. It was suggested that beams were used to lift the bricks and ropes were tied around the bricks to fit them into place. It was certainly still hard work, but not as back breaking as previously.
They could be seen from far away
It wasn’t just the sheer size of the pyramids that made them so prominent and spotted from miles away. The pyramid bricks were covered with limestone and when they reflected off the sun they would shine like gems.
Due to this, it was said that they could be seen as far as the mountains in nearby Israel and perhaps from the moon on a clear day. They continue to be a staple of Egypt and its greatest attraction.
A stable structure
It was known that the Egyptians were ahead of their time, but this was proven in the construction of the pyramids. They were aware of natural disasters which could occur and potentially prove detrimental to the pyramids so came up with a solution.
The cornerstones of the pyramids were found to have been built in a ball and socket construction in the event of an earthquake or more commonly, heat expansion during the searing hot Egyptian summer months.
Can’t be replicated
Despite the vast technological advancements throughout the years, it has been suggested that it would not be possible to build an exact replica of The Great Pyramid of Giza. Put simply, we do not have the precise technology that the ancient Egyptians had to build the pyramid.
They took so many factors into consideration when building the pyramids to ensure they lasted for centuries. Especially as it was all built out of bricks, we are better off sticking to modern day skyscrapers!
The Great Pyramid of Giza contained three burial chambers, all huge in size. One of the chambers was built into the bedrock underground. The queen’s chamber was slightly higher than below ground, and the king’s chamber was the highest of them all.
Khufu went against ancient tradition and didn’t intend to use the queen’s chamber for any of his wives and instead intended to use it for a huge statue of himself. Clearly he thought this was more important to have in the afterlife instead of his wives!
Decline of the pyramids
Throughout the fifth and six dynasties the pyramids continued to be built, but they weren’t nearly as strong or impressive as the earlier ones. The general quality and the scale declined throughout this period, a result of the decline in power and money of the kings during this time.
The last of the great pyramid builders was Pepy II, the second king of the sixth dynasty who ruled for 94 years. After Pepy’s death, Egypt’s kingdom and central government collapsed and Egypt went into the phase known as the First Intermediate Period.
While there has been so much speculation for thousands of years how the pyramids were actually built, there are only a handful of theories which actually seem feasible.
The most plausible one is that the Egyptians used sloping and encircling embankment of brick, earth, and sand which was then increased in height as the pyramid rose. The bricks were said to have been hauled up the ramp by sledges, rollers and levers. However, there is still no concrete proof that this theory was accurate.
It really is huge
The Great Pyramid of Giza has a perfect square base and each side of the square measures a huge 756 feet. The base itself spans over 12 acres of land, that is big enough to hold nearly 10 full size football fields.
Each individual side of the pyramid covers 5.5 acres, so when combined, the surface area is 22 acres. Today, it would take 203 steps to reach the summit of the pyramids. When you consider how large it is, it’s incredible how the Egyptians built it.
Where the shiny stones went
We have already mentioned that the pyramids used to glisten like gems due to their white limestone casings that could be seen from thousands of miles away. But where did they go?
It turns out that the stone casings were eyed up by many people and it was the Arabs that eventually ripped off the casing stones and used them for building mosques in their own countries. It would be interesting to know what they would look like today with the casing stones still intact.
What lies beneath
Considering the massive weight of the pyramids, it is quite surprising that the earth’s surface is able to support such a huge weight.
It turns out that it is able to support it due to a solid flat mountain made out of granite that lies right beneath the earth’s surface where the Great Pyramid lies. The Egyptians must have known about this to place it in this particular spot an ensure that the earth could support it.
The mysterious void
While scientists worked hard to delve deeper into the construction of the ancient wonder, they discovered a hidden void which measured at least 100 feet long. The void was an incredible discovery and the first large inner structure found in the 4,500-year-old pyramids since the 1800s.
Experts and archaeologists hailed the revelation as the “discovery of the century”. The exploration of this previously secret area would now pave the way for new mysterious areas to be uncovered in the pyramids.
Pharaoh’s throne uncovered
It was thought that the greatest treasures had already been stolen from the pyramids years ago by thieves and raiders. However, after expert Guilio Magli professor of Archaeoastronomy analysed ancient religious text, he believes that a throne may lie in a secret chamber in the pyramid.
A secret void in the pyramid was discovered in 2017 and the size of it indicates that it played an important part of the structure, and perhaps something very special was placed inside.
A surprise discovery
In 2019, on the southeastern side of the Giza Pyramid, a 4,500-year-old ancient tomb was uncovered. Archaeologists uncovered part of a cemetery, and among the treasures found were wooden tombs painted in various colors and limestone statues.
Some historians believe that the tomb was placed in this location to be close to the Pharaoh’s in the pyramid. Being so close to the pyramids would have shown that these figures had stature and importance in ancient Egypt.
There are secret tunnels
It turns out that the pyramids contain intricate web of passages, shafts and chambers, hidden underneath the structures. The Egyptian authorities have excavated and taken possession of most of the found commodities, but there is still plenty of history and artefacts that have been hidden from the public.
The public do not have access to these tunnels, so what was found in them has always remained a mystery, but there is probably a serious reason why the government has covered it up.