King Tutankhamun Burial Mask

Egypt’s Unknown History Behind the Giza Pyramids and Archeological Findings

The Giza Pyramid

What is the first thought that comes to mind when “Egypt” is mentioned? Many points to Pyramids, and specifically, the Giza Pyramid. The Giza Pyramid is a world-renowned attraction site due to its historical richness, cultural beauty, and mysterious background. Nonetheless, it has also earned its popularity as the last of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World.


The Giza Pyramid is situated on a plateau on the west bank of the Nile River in the city of Cairo. The Pyramid was built during the reign of King Khufu (2589 BCE – 2566 BCE) or the 4th Dynasty (Egytian Pyramids 2009). The purpose of the Pyramid was to prepare King Khufu for his transition to the afterlife. Aligning with ancient Egyptian tradition, King Khufu was buried along with his officials and relatives. The Giza Pyramid possesses a sophisticated interior design with three major rooms: The King’s Chamber, Queen’s Chamber, and Grand Gallery (Mark 2016). These rooms are designed for the burial of the King, Queen, and treasures. 

Credit: Britannica

Mysterious history

Despite the archaeological and technological advancements of the Modern Era, our understanding of the ancient world remains limited. One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Giza Pyramid is its method of construction. The Pyramid has a height of 146 meters and a base of 754 meters; the whole architectural construction was built with over two million blocks of stone (Mark 2016). Many people suspected that slaves were involved with the construction of the Pyramid, but skeletons indicate that workers of the Pyramid were most likely native Egyptian agricultural labourers (Egytian Pyramids 2009). Moreover, there is no evidence that connects the Giza Pyramid to the Book of Exodus. Others then pointed to the presence of extraterrestrial creatures (aliens) that aided ancient Egyptians in constructing this pyramid. However, up to date, there has not been any empirical evidence to support this speculation. 

It is known to man that the Pyramid was built by the Vizier which is the common term given to the second most powerful man in Egypt. King Khufu’s Vizier was Hemiunu which means he was in charge of the construction. Hemiunu was tasked with a wide range of responsibilities including delegating resources, transportation, human labour, payments etc. The aspect that draws the most attention is the technical precision, symmetry, and angle of the Pyramid which points to the usage of technology beyond ancient times (Mark 2016). 

Theories of construction

With mysteries come theories, and the Giza Pyramid is no exception. The first theory proposed by archeologists is the Ramp Theory, which is also the most accepted theory including all of its variations. The Ramp Theory suggests that ramps around the foundation were built as the Pyramid itself was constructed. The ramps were used to transport rocks to the next level. Through ancient wall paintings, archeologists found evidence that Egyptians used to wet the sand on the Ramp in order to reduce friction (Ford 2017). Despite all the evidence to support this theory, there are loopholes that remain unexplained. According to the Archaeological Institute of America, the maximum slope is 8% (limited to human force) which suggests that the ramp must be one mile long in length in order to reach the peak of the pyramid. However, there is no room for a ramp of this length on the Giza Plateau and there was no evidence of mass construction either (Brier 2007).  

Architect Jean-Pierre Houdin then came up with a variation of the Ramp Theory – Internal Ramp Theory. This theory asserts that shafts were built internally instead of externally around the Pyramid. This theory is supported through modern 3D software computer models (Rigby 6). The Internal Ramp Theory solves the previous concerns surrounding the unreasonable length of the ramp. The internal chambers also explain why external ramps were not found by field observations or satellite images (Klemm and Klemm 2010). However, this theory is also not without its own flaws; according to experts, internal ramps do not account “for the weight of the stones or the number of workers on the ramp required to move them up an angle inside the pyramid and into position” (Mark 2016). 

Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

The last theory attempts to resolve the “human power” flaw prevalent in the prior theories. The Water Power Theory claims that internal ramps in combination with hydraulic power were used to transport rocks to the Pyramid. Situated beside the Nile, it seems reasonable that Egyptians could have harnessed the energy created by the Nile through flooding. According to new discoveries uncovered by Lost Secrets of the Pyramid “giant dykes were opened to divert water from the river and channel it to the Pyramid through a man-made canal system (An Ancient Papyrus Reveals How the Great Pyramid of Giza was Built). 

The construction of the Giza Pyramid still remains a living mystery yet to be fully unveiled. The truth of construction might fall into one theory or be a combination of all theories. One truth remains unchanged: the breathtaking ancient feat will continue to attract both experts and tourists alike. 

Recent discoveries

To date, discoveries surround the Giza Pyramid and the history it encapsulates, continue to be uncovered by experts around the world. The most recent discovery revealed a hidden void that is at least a hundred feet long using muon radiography. This discovery is published in National Geographic (Greshko 2017). Although the void was discovered, it is unknown the purpose of the space and what lies within. Nonetheless, egyptologists have already started speculating its purpose. Cambridge archaeologist Spence claims that the void may be leftover from the Pyramid’s construction (Greshko 2017). Since the void aligns with the upper chamber which is where King Khufu was buried, the void could have been used as an internal ramp that transports rocks. A similar theory suggested by Salima Ikram (Egyptologist at the American University in Cairo) asserts that the void could have been involved in the construction of the lower Grand Gallery (Greshko 2017). 

Credit: Live Science

Most important person – King Khufu

The Pyramid of Giza was constructed with the sole purpose of preserving the body of King Khufu and securing his afterlife. Ironically, King Khufu’s body has never been seen by anyone. French Egyptologists have claimed that the body is in an undiscovered chamber within this Pyramid. However, this speculation was never confirmed because the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has refused to grant permission for further exploration (Here lies the body of Cheops – or maybe not 2004). 

Tomb robbing

The amount of wealth that can be obtained by robbing the treasures within the tombs is immeasurable; therefore, it has given incentives to everyone from the upper class to serfs in Egypt to rob tombs. Even though there were warnings in the wall paintings suggesting that the dead mummified body can interact with the living, the deterrence was simply not strong enough. Aside from financial gains, ancient Egyptians also robbed tombs as an act of revenge. During an economic crisis, the tombs of the previous leaders would be robbed as citizens are enraged by their failure to provide for them. Coincidentally, many tom robbers were the exact group of people involved in the burial process, making the robbing process easier (Tom Robbers in Ancient Egypt). The Giza Pyramid also fell victim to this phenomenon, It is known that the Great Pyramid of Giza was looted in the 19th century by thieves who blasted the thick stone doors (Tom Robbers in Ancient Egypt).

Activities worth pursuing

A tour inside: While visiting the Giza Plateau, the three Pyramids worth seeing include the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure. The general admission ticket costs around USD 20 with an additional USD 5 for each Pyramid. It is important to remember that the sale of tickets for entering Pyramid Giza and Khafre is limited. However, far from many people’s expectations, the chambers are completely empty due to centuries of tomb robbery and modern plunders. 

Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings

After knowing about the history of tomb-robbing. the question that you might ask is: is there anything left to see? The answer is, yes. With centuries of looting and robbing, the one remaining body that remained untouched belongs to King Tutankhamun or more commonly known as King Tut. According to National Geographic, a team led by archaeologist Otto Schaden discovered the valley that housed King Tut’s tomb. This site is later named KV 62 for simplicity (Handwerk). When the artifacts were initially discovered, it was put on display around the world in museum show exhibitions. Today, the artifact remains in Egypt and inside the original place of burial (KV 62). Aside from the Valley of the Kings, King Tut’s golden mask was specifically taken to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (Tutankhamun 2021). 

Valley of the Kings

The Valley of the Kings is a royal tomb where kings, queens, and nobles of the New Kingdom (1500-1070 B.C.) were buried. The tombs are located on the west side of the Nile, the ancient necropolis of Thebes. The most intriguing aspect of this valley is the fact that chambers are filled with all types of treasures, from jewels to boats (Canadian Museum of History). The entire Valley contains hundreds of tombs; yet, some tombs were robbed.

Credit: Britannica

King Tut’s treasures

According to records documented by the Canadian Museum of History, over 3000 treasures were placed in King Tut’s tomb as tools to help his transition to the afterlife. King Tut’s body is placed within a coffin made out of gold, weighing 110.4 kilos. King Tut’s body is wrapped in linen and his face is covered with a gold mask (Canadian Museum of History). 

Credit: National Geographic

Mysterious past

First mystery

Although the tomb of King Tut remains intact, the real identity of King Tut is not without intrigue. The first mystery of King Tut is his familial ties. There are two speculations for who King Tut’s mother is in academia: Akhenaten’s principal wife (Nefertiti) and second wife (Kiya). Even though scholars have conducted DNA tests on King Tut, it was inconclusive in identifying his parents given that all the close relatives in the family share similar DNA traits (Zorich 2016). 

Second and third mysteries

The next two mysteries are regarding King Tut’s predecessor and successor. Akhenaten reigned in 1336 BC when he appointed another co-rule named Neferneferuaten; some scholars speculate that this is just Nerfititi. After Akhenaten died, someone called Smenkhkara took over the throne; however, it is unclear if Smenkhkara is another name Nerfititi used. The reason why King Tut’s successor also remains unsolved is that King Tut died at the young age of 19 after only ruling for four years. King Tut had no heir to succeed his throne at the time of death (Zorich 2016).

Fourth mystery

Another point of peculiarity with King Tut’s tomb is that it is surprisingly small for a pharaoh of his prominence and influence. Members of the Royal family with similar status as him had much more extensive decorations in their tombs. According to Professor Reeves, the tomb seemed to be repurposed from the ones of earlier rulers (Zorich 2016).

Fifth mystery

Even though there is substantial evidence to show that King Tut has died abruptly, the cause of his death is still unknown. DNA evidence has shown that King Tut might have suffered from malaria and bone disease, yet none of those are fatal illnesses. It is speculated that King Tut died from over bleeding after fracturing his leg, but it is also possible that his leg was injured after his death (Zorich 2016).

Final comments

In conclusion, every aspect of King Tut’s life remains a mystery for the most part; everything from his birth, death, and connections are still topics of heated debate. 

Even though King Tut only ruled over Egypt for 4 years, his political power is undeniable. His predecessors have reestablished Egypt as a monotheistic state whereas King Tut restored the power of the old gods and erected the old temples. He brought the kingdom back to stability which was lost in the years before him (Niiler 2019). Therefore, understanding all the mysteries surrounding his identity and the events of his life can be hugely beneficial to understanding the history of Egypt. 


If the description above sparked your curiosity and you are thinking of Egypt as your next travel destination, here are some travel guides to consider. All the tombs in the Valley of Kings have specific opening times and dates due to the need for preservation. Therefore, it is empirical to conduct prior research before visiting. For those who are passionate about Egyptology, you can book a private tour of the Valley of Kings. Additionally, there is an electric train that runs through the visitor center to the tombs area if tourists do not want to walk in boiling hot weather (Lee).

Credit: Earth Trekkers

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