The Great Pyramid


The Great Pyramid Essay, Research Paper

The Great Pyramid

The great pyramid was built during the reign of Khufu, 2nd king

of the fourth dynasty (2,720-2,560 BC). It stands on the Giza

plateau nearby Cairo and is the biggest pyramid in the world. It

measures 230 m (756 ft) on each side of its base and originally

measured 147 m (482 ft) high. Beginning in the 10th century AD

the entire Giza complex served as a source of building materials

for the construction of Cairo; as a result, all three pyramids

were stripped of their original smooth outer facing of limestone.

The core masonry consists of large blocks of local limestone

taken from the nearby quarries and built around and over a rocky

knoll. The size of the knoll cannot be determined, since it is

completely covered by the pyramid. The entrance to the pyramid is

in the center of the northern face. It is located in the

thirteenth course of masonry from the base. This entrance has a

pointed roof formed of massive slabs of local limestone and opens

into a long steeply descending passage. From there a 36 meters

long ascending passage leads to a 35 meters long horizontal

passage that leads to the so called ‘Queen’s chamber’. This

chamber measures 5.2 by 5.7 meters and the maximum height of its

pointed roof is about 15 meters. The north and south walls each

have a small hole a few centimeters square about 1 meter from the

floor. These lead into narrow channels that originally opened on

the exterior of the pyramid. At the juncture of the ascending

and horizontal passage is an opening of a shaft which descends to

a depth of 60 meters. It opens into the lower part of the

descending passage, close to the unfinished, underground chamber,

and is believed to have been an escape shaft for the workmen who

filed the ascending passage with huge stones after the king’s


From the horizontal passage the Grand Gallery, which leads to

the king’s chamber, starts. It is 47 meters long and 8.5 meters

high, and has a corbelled roof. In the center of the floor is a

sunken ramp about 60 centimeters deep. The Grand Gallery ends in

a horizontal granite passage which serves as an antechamber. It

measures 8.4 meters long and 3.1 meters high, and has slots for

three portcullises. Beyond the antechamber is the so-called

‘King’s Chamber’ which is lined, roofed and paved with red

granite. It measures 5.2 by 10.8 meters and is 5.8 meters high.

Its flat roof is formed of nine monolithic slabs of granite. The

northern and southern walls each have an ‘air channel’, one of

which is open to the outside. The Pyramid can be seen to have

about two hundred level courses of squared stones. The layers

all have a different thickness ranging between approximately 50

and 145 centimeters. The average block size is about 1 cubic


On the Khufu pyramid, all the casing elements were removed in

the 14th century. The few casing stones which do remain in the

Great Pyramid all lie in the 1.5 meter thick bottom course and

cannot be representative of the stones which would have been used

in the higher parts of the construction. The only examples of

face work such as this which remain are those on the pyramids at

Meidum, Dashur andGiza.

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