Ancient Tombs of Pharaohs Who Refused To Be Forgotten
Three massive stone structures pierce the sky in the middle of the hot desert of Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza.
These wonders were built as mortuary monuments for three different Pharaohs of the 4th Dynasty in the Old Kingdom: Cheops, and his two sons, Chephren and Mycerinus. The largest, the Great Pyramid, was built for Cheops and originally stood the tallest at approximately 146 meters.
Many mysteries surround the construction of these pyramids. The Great Pyramid’s faces are positioned, almost exactly, in the directions of the four cardinal points—north, south, east and west—with less than one degree of error! It is also built at the exact centre of the earth’s landmass, which means that it lies in the centre of all the world’s land area, dividing the earth’s landmass into approximately equal quarters.
A structure this heavy would require an extremely strong foundation to support its weight. It just so happens that the pyramid is built directly on top of a flat solid granite mountain, which easily supports its immense weight.
Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza there are three principle chambers on three different levels found at the heart. One of these chambers is for the actual body of Cheops, the second for his treasures and necessities for the afterlife—including a cult temple to pray in—and the smallest chamber is for his wife, the Queen.
More about the actual construction of the pyramids continues to astound researchers and enthusiasts alike. For example, the Great Pyramid is made up of approximately 2,300,000 stones, and the average weight of each stone is between two and 10 tons. It is believed that the stones were floated over the Nile River during flooding, and brought to the edge of the desert. But there continues to be controversy as to how these extremely heavy bricks were placed with such precision; the pyramids have a near perfect square base, with sides that differ by no more than eight inches.
The builders of these pyramids also accounted for the expansion and contraction that the stones might undergo, as well as natural disruptions that might damage the shape. Much like modern buildings, the pyramid’s cornerstones have balls and sockets built into them. The precision with which the pyramids were cut would almost be impossible to duplicate today, and would take an enormous amount of work, even with our most advanced technology and modern capabilities.
Originally, the pyramids were covered with a protective coating of polished white limestone. The coating gave off such a shine from the hot desert sun that not only could they be seen from the Israeli mountains hundreds of miles away, but it is also said that the glare would have been visible from the moon!
Unfortunately, the protective coating no longer covers the pyramids. During an earthquake 600 years ago, the stones were loosened, and later stolen and used to complete palaces and mosques in Cairo. Because the inner limestone was not as hard and resistant to the elements as was the outer coating, the pyramids have become rough and worn down; although, the cement that attached the stones remains intact and watertight even today.
Researchers and Egyptologists have found, within the pyramids, four sets of what was first thought to be air shafts. These shafts are no more than 20 cm by 20 cm. Researchers soon realized that these shafts allowed for viewing of the stars, consistent with the Ancient Egyptian beliefs that some of their gods and dead pharaohs exist in the sky as stars. However, two published academics, Virginia Trimble and Alexander Badawy, were the first people to recognize that these “air” shafts seemed to point towards the constellation Orion. And further to that discovery, a man named Robert Bauval, an Egyptian engineer, found that the “imprecise” alignment (the 1 degree difference) of the pyramids is actually an exact mirror image of the Belt Stars of Orion.
It is believed that the purpose of the pyramids is to protect and preserve the bodies of the kings during their afterlife. Their significance remains open to interpretation; although, it is popularly thought to relate to the status of the pharaohs. The Egyptian people regarded their pharaohs as god-like and sacred. By having a burial place as grand as the pyramids, it symbolized their importance and their power.
However, a discussion of the pyramids would not be complete without mention of their eternal guardian—the Great Sphinx of Giza. In Greek mythology the Sphinx was a mythical beast with the head and breasts of a woman, the body of a lion and the wings of a bird. She would ask visitors entering the city of Thebes to answer a riddle, and if they could not answer, they would be put to death. In ancient Egypt, however, a sphinx was normally seen with the head of a pharaoh and the body of a lion. The most famous sphinx is, of course, the Great Sphinx of Giza.
The Sphinx is carved from solid bedrock and has what is believed to be the face of Chephren (the son of Cheops), and the body of a lion. It is about 20 meters high and about 73 meters long. Unfortunately, the face of the Great Sphinx has been severely damaged by brutal sandstorms and vandalism, yet it still majestically watches over the Pyramids of Giza.