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Great Pyramid of Giza

For thousands of years the Great Pyramid of Giza has amazed and inspired all that view it, only in very recent times has any man-made structure surpassed it's height after a 3,800 year reign as the world's tallest man-made structure.

On the outskirts of Cairo in an area called Giza you'll find the oldest and only intact Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Widely believed to have been built around 2560BC, many of our customers are surprised to find out that the Great Pyramid of Giza only took between 10-20 years to construct.

Construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza

Many believe the Great Pyramid of Giza was built by slaves, however the reality is quite different. 100,000skilled people worked on the structure for 3 months of each year during the Nile's annual flood, when farming was impossible and unemployment was high. During the construction process the pharaoh provided good food and clothing for the workers, and this was remembered in folk tales for many centuries afterwards.

The dimensions of the Great Pyramid are astonishingly accurate, with each side of the base 230.4 meters long and angled at 51degrees to a height of 147 meters. To build such a massive structure today to these tolerances would be an engineering triumph, let alone over 4,000 years ago when the tools we take for granted today did not exist.

Another aspect of the pyramid that our travellers often find interesting is that each corner of the Great Pyramid is oriented exactly to the four cardinal points of the compass, facing North, East, South and West.

Stone Blocks

The largest pyramid ever constructed, the Great Pyramid of Giza consists of approximately 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing between 2.3 to 15 tonnes! It is estimated that a new block would have had to been set every 2 minutes in order for construction to have been completed in the 20 year time-frame. As well as all these granite blocks, the Great Pyramid also incorporates an estimated 8,000 tonnes of granite and half a million tonnes of mortar!

We believe the massive stone blocks used to construct the Great Pyramid were dug from local granite quarries, although the biggest - used in the Kings burial chamber, would have come 500 miles away from Aswan by boat.

Traditionally Ancient Egyptians cut out these massive stones by first hammering in a wooden wedge, which when soaked with water would expand and cause the rock to crack.

Polished Limestone Exterior of the Great Pyramid

Once the granite blocks of the pyramid were laid, a highly polished white limestone layer of blocks was built on top which were cut at an angle, giving the Great Pyramid of Giza a completely flat surface.

When the famous Egyptologist Flinders Petrie came across these limestone blocks he famously remarked that the precision of the casing stones was equal to present day opticians standards, but ont he scale of acres.

Today only small sections of the polished limestone exterior can be seen covering the huge granite construction blocks of the Great Pyramid of Giza, most being taken away throughout the centuries after being loosened by an earthquake in 1303.

On our tours of Cairo you'll see many examples of where these stones were used on other projects such as the Alabaster Mosque in central Cairo.

How was the Great Pyramid of Giza Constructed?

It's still not known exactly how the magnificent and awe-inspiring Great Pyramid of Giza was made, theories include the stones being dragged, lifted, rolled and even floated into place. A modern construction management study suggests an average workforce of 14,567 people and a peak workforce of 40,000 would have been required, and that the project would require approximately 10 years from start to finish.

Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza

The original entrance to the Great Pyramid lies 17 meters above ground level and leads to a passageway which descends through the stone blocks of the structure down to the bedrock beneath it. This passageway leads to the lower chamber which appears to have been left unfinished after the Pharoh decided he wanted to be buried higher up in the pyramid.

Another entrance lies 28 meters above ground level, originally hidden by huge 1.5 meter long granite blocks. This passageway leads to the Queens Chamber.

Did you know?

Several mystery shafts extend from the king and queens burial chambers. We know that they weren't air shafts because they were sealed, and they weren't hallways because they were too narrow, so many are left to believe they must have been designed to allow Khufu to travel up to the stars in the afterlife.

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