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Great Pyramid of Giza - Cheops

Cheops Pyramid

Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the pyramid of Cheops – also know as the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Pyramid of Khufu – is the only one we can still admire today. Along with the burial sites that surround it, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Embodiment of the genius of Egyptian civilization architects, it represents the apogee on a monumental scale of an art and knowledge which rapidly evolved over a few centuries. If the pyramid of Cheops fascinates as much eminent specialists as the youngest, it is certainly because it continues to hide multiple enigmas. Questions remain unresolved and enliven the most imaginative minds.

Heir to the step pyramid dedicated to the pharaoh Djoser and built around 2650 BC by the architect Imhotep in Saqqara, the pyramid of Cheops presents four smooth faces, like those of the Snefrou pyramid which preceeded it. The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza begins with the seizure of power by the pharaoh which reigns from 2590 to 2565 BC. The Cheops Pyramid adopts impressive dimensions which are proportional to the wealth of the sovereign. Reaching at its peak a height of 147 meters, today diminished by 9 meters, and a width of 230 meters, it covers five hectares. The Khufu Pyramid is crossed by long straight corridors that lead to an underground chamber which houses the queen and the king’s room. Dominating the Giza plateau as its architects meant it, the Great Pyramid of Giza is surrounded by the pyramids of Kephren, Mykerinos as well as the legendary Sphinx.

A pyramid, but why?

The absence of remains in the pink granite sarcophagus has given rise to many theories. For centuries, hypotheses abounded. The Cheops Pyramid would not be the burial place of a royal mummy. Thus, the Great Pyramid of Giza was successively seen as a granary, a gigantic library, a safe, a place to store egypt unit of measure, the place chosen for the rites of initiation of the cult of Isis, an astronomical instrument, a materialization of the knowledge of the number pi and the rotundity of the Earth, the architectural representation of prophecies or the story of the Bible, but also and more curiously, a beacon emerged to guide Noah in full deluge, a sarcophagus containing the Ark of the Covenant, the testimony of survivors of sunken Atlantis or access to an alleged world inside the Earth.

Astronomical instrument

The astronomical thesis could be retained because the arrangement of the Cheops Pyramid, whose four faces are exactly oriented in the direction of the four cardinal points, can cast a shadow of mystery. In addition, the ventilation ducts in the king's and queen's chambers point in constant ascendance to the north and south. But it is useless to make any hazardous interpretation of these observations without material proofs. The scope of Egyptian civilization knowledge in the fields of mathematics and astronomy, precise and reliable, can only be noted as well as their belief of deceased pharaohs uprising to the stars.

A long and arduous work

The question of the conditions and the construction mode of the Cheops Pyramid and the two other pyramids of Giza also brings a flow of hypotheses and a beginning of certainties. The Egyptians did not leave us any testimony on this subject. The results of the archaeological excavations make it possible to advance a more or less precise picture of the site. This is a real anthill that brings together the foremen, surveyors and various specialized craftsmen, such as stonemasons. The labor force, recruited among peasants of the country and not among whipped slaves as the legend likes to repeat, can count up to 30,000 individuals during floods of the Nile. They are housed and fed but not paid. Only the boss of the agricultural domain to which the workers belong is compensated. According to Herodotus, the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza lasted twenty years.


The central question remains: how were the Egyptians able to move and raise 2,300,000 blocks of stone and make such architectural marvels? Transported on a flooded Nile, the stones were then landed on the plateau before being deposited on sleds of wood to be moved towards the building site. And then ? Different theses oppose each other. Some historians, like Herodotus, have advanced the idea of ​​the pendulum but the device seems insufficient given the weight of the blocks which is measured in tons. The possibility of using a pulley and winch is just as impossible when you know that the road does not exist yet. The hypothesis of the ramp is therefore the most plausible, especially since this technique has left memories in some drawings and in the soil surrounding the Great Pyramid.

The ramp, which evolves based on the elevation of the construction site, can take different aspects. The helicoidal ramp runs along the walls, the spiral ramp wraps around the pyramid, the frontal ramp runs from the outside to one side, perpendicular to it. The constraints of each of these devices lead archaeologists not to stop definitively on any of them. The helicoidal ramp poses the problem of turning the stone 90 degrees and the spiral ramp can only be imagined at the end of construction when the frontal ramp becomes too long or too inclined to reach the last heights of the pyramid.

Extraterrestrial help

All these long-elaborated theories are swept away by some ufologists who claim to hold the explanation. They argue that the Egyptians would have simply resorted to extraterrestrial help. Conclusions that are not without disarming the scientific community.