A photograph inside of the Grand Gallery, a space within the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The Pyramids of Giza: Ancient Cemeteries or Science Marvel?

Introduction to the Pyramids around the world

A beautiful profile of the Great Sphinx including the pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre in the background in Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Great Sphinx (Image Credit: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
The picture shows the Three Great Pyramids of Giza, located in Cairo, Egypt
Pyramids of Giza (Image Credit: history.com)

The above pictures depict some of the popular Egyptian Pyramids. The Pyramid is a three dimensional geometric figure. It consists of a square base and four equilateral triangular sides. There have been numerous monuments built in the shape of Pyramid around the world in olden days. It is found today in places like Central America, Greece, China and Egypt. In China and Egypt, they were built as tombs to preserve the bodies of ancient Kings/ Pharaohs (as they are called in Egypt) and Leaders. Whereas most of the Pyramids of Mayan and Aztec in Central America and Mesoamerica were temples, a religious place of worship that was used by Hindus and Buddhists. But some of them had burial chambers.

This is a picture of the stepped pyramid built in the city of Aztec, Central America. It has a block on top of the pyramid.
Aztec Pyramid (Image Credit: Britannica)
This shows the remains of stepped pyramid of the Mayan city, Mesoamerica after various invasions that are believed to have happened.
Mayan Pyramid (Image Credit: businessinsider.com)

There are a total of 138 identified pyramids in Egypt. Initially, the Egyptians were known to have tombs built in box-shaped structures. Thus, the first tombs of the Pharaohs were flat and known as “Mastabas”. And then later, they started building grand tombs by adding layers on top, similar to placing rectangular strips one over the other in decreasing size. These are known as “Stepped Pyramids“. An example of such a stepped pyramid in Egypt is the Pyramid of Djoser.

This is the stepped pyramid of Djoser in Egypt. It has 6 levels and is regarded as the inspiration to the construction of The Great Pyramid.
Pyramid of Djoser (Image Credit: worldhistoryedu.com)

The construction of this stepped pyramid is believed to have inspired the successors of the Egyptian Pharaohs, who built the monumental pyramids of Giza during their reign. This post mainly focuses on the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The Pyramids of Giza, located on the outskirts of Cairo, is the largest among all. There are three pyramids of Giza that were built on the west banks of the Nile river, Giza in Northern Egypt. The names of the three pyramids come from the corresponding kings of the 4th dynasty, for whom they were built.

Name of the Pyramid Current location Pharaoh / Dynasty Approximate Dimensions of the structure
Pyramid of Djoser Saqqara Djoser / 3rd Dynasty Each side of base = 120metres
Height = 62metres (with 6 levels)
Pyramid of Giza – First Northern most Khufu / King II , 4th dynasty Each side of base = 230metres
Height = 147metres
Pyramid of Giza – second Middle Khafre/ King IV, 4th dynasty Each side of base = 216metres
Height = 143metres
Pyramid of Giza – third Southern most Menkaure / King V, 4th Dynasty Each side of base = 109metres
Height = 66metres
Table 1: Perks on some significant Egyptian Pyramids

Of these, the most popular one is the Pyramid of Khufu, also known as The Great Pyramid. It has been the largest and tallest man-made structure on the planet for many thousands of years.

How was the Great Pyramid built?

Having seen when, where and who built The Great Pyramid, let us dig into how the pyramid was brought into existence. The following are the physical observations of the man-made marvel:

Interiors of the Pyramid

  • The entrance of the Great Pyramid is on the north, 18 meters above ground level.
  • As you enter the sloping corridor and go straight, you will end up in an incomplete underground chamber of rocky soil.
  • There is an ascending pathway from the corridor, 46 meters straight. This will lead to a burial chamber located at a higher level, known as the King’s chamber.
    • This chamber is lined and roofed completely with granite.
    • Above this, there are five compartments separated by granite slabs, most likely to balance the heavy force exerted on the chamber by the masonry above.
  • From the diversion of the ascending pathway, if you traverse straight, you will find the Queen’s chamber, also built using granite.
  • There are shafts running from both the chambers to the external side of the pyramid.

Exteriors of the Pyramid

  • Each of the sides rises at an angle of 51 degrees and is accurately oriented against the cardinal.
  • The pyramid’s core is made up of yellowish limestone blocks and the outer casing and inner passages are made using finer, light colored limestone.
  • Roughly, 2.3 million blocks of stones were used to create the 5.75-million-ton structure.
  • The remains that still prove the architectural finesse include the seamless joints of the walls and shining blocks of limestone pieces.

Based on the above observations and given the fact that it was built near the Nile river, it is believed by historians that it must have taken around 20 years to complete it using nearly 100000 men laborers. It is a convincing speculation that the people who were doing agriculture along the banks helped with construction of the giant structure only when they had time off the fields. So, the amount of time taken to finish the construction is perhaps conclusive.

In the year 2013, when archeologist Pierre Tallet discovered the oldest known papyri with text until today, in the Egyptian desert near the Red Sea. Known as the “Diary of Merer”, it paved the way for arriving at a confirmed idea of how the huge blocks of rocks, limestones, statues were all transported to build the Great Pyramid. When such a magnificent structure has to be raised, without much technology, it ought to have the easiest way out from the available resources then. The white limestone was transported from Tura by boat over the Nile. The granite was perhaps brought from Aswan. Each block is believed to weigh 2-3tonnes. So, if the blocks had to be dragged over sand every time, it would have created a large deposition of sand at the construction site, making it more difficult to build. They could not have used wheels since it is a desert. Thus, the quarried blocks are believed to have been brought to the construction site using wooden sledges up and down the river.

The big rocks or stones were hammered into smaller chunks by inserting a wooden wedge in the natural stone faces and then soaking them in water. When the wood expands, absorbing water, it will naturally break the rock. These were then carried to the site. The foundation of the structure was accurately levelled at 2 centimeters, which is not a simple task, with the amount of tools and technology available at that point in time. Given the other mathematical aspects of the architecture, like the angle of inclination of the triangular side, perfect orientation along with the cardinal directions and so on, it is indeed a mysterious piece of work to be admired.

The above theories are most likely events of the past. There is still no conclusive evidence to clearly let us know how exactly the tomb was planned and built.

Why was the Great Pyramid built?

This is the most curious question all over. There are two approaches to the answer: spiritual and scientific. Spiritually, all of them were built for the resurrection of their Kings, who held a divine position in Egyptian society between God and humans. Scientifically, in particular, the Great Pyramid could have been a space station on earth sending signals to outer-space, or a coded mathematical monument left by our ancestors for us to decipher the meaning of time and space.

Pyramids as Tombs

Historically, it has been said that the pyramids were the places of resurrection for the god said to choose people, “Pharaohs”, whose spirits will exit the world to become God’s afterlife. They believed that a part of the pharaoh’s soul known as “ka” needed an earthly home. Thus, their corpses were preserved along with things needed for their new world of survival, like food, furniture, gold vessels and other items. It was also believed that this would protect the people of the kingdom from disasters and help lead a happy life.

Near all the pyramids, there are “mortuary temples” laid to embrace the soul of the Pharaoh. The smooth, angled sides of the pyramid symbolized the rays of the sun. It was designed to help the king’s soul to ascend to heaven and join the Gods, especially the Sun god, “Ra“.

The shafts from the chambers to the surface of the pyramid seemed to direct the soul from earth to heaven. The Great Pyramid was built large enough that it is clearly visible from outer-space in satellite images. This is a special connection between this specific pyramid and heaven.

The Great Pyramid: Perhaps with a greater purpose

The previous section provided cultural reasons based on Egyptian mythology for the construction of such a massive structure decades ago. But many facts surrounding the Great Pyramid gave astounding speculations to the researchers, who considered that being just a tomb was a small purpose to serve, as, made of the efforts taken and knowledge involved to maintain such precision in architecture.

Ancient Space Exploration Station

This picture shows the inside cross section of the Great Pyramid. Sloping entrance leads straight to underground chamber. At the end of ascending branch, lies King's chamber. Another branch from that, leads to Queen's chamber

Internal Cross section of the Great Pyramid(Image Credit: howstuffworks.com)

This picture depicts the interior of The Great Pyramid. It was glowing with finely polished limestone on the outside, making it a perfect reflector of light. Some say that the top covering could have been made of gold.

From the above cross section of the Great Pyramid’s interior, it also qualified to be treated as a machine instead of just the tombs of Pharaohs, according to some engineers and technologists. The subterranean chamber is evidence by itself. It was proved by an engineer named John Cadman, who modeled such a chamber and tried experimenting it by feeding it with water. It was observed that the water would rush down to the underground that was about 330 feet below and when it bypassed a valve, it was found to produce shock waves that hit the ceiling exactly below the King’s chamber.

As the chambers are all built using granite, it is a material used in microphones or telephones. It acts as a transducer that converts mechanical vibrations due to sound into electricity by emitting electrons proportional to the frequency of vibrations. Thus, the shock waves produced by introducing water can actually lead to vibrations that control the granite parts of the pyramid. So also, you can consider a pyramid as a machine that can help vibrate the granites inside and produce electromagnetic energy. Studies show the possibility that the pyramids could have been sending microwave signals to outer space, to a satellite to communicate with extraterrestrial beings, similar to the SETI program where we have been sending signals from earth now.

A picture depicting signals transmitted to outer space by the pyramids.
Pyramids possibly emitting signals to outer space (Image Credit: history.com)

Mathematical Marvel : Key to discovering time, space and creation of planet Earth

  • Nikola Tesla is a famous engineer who invented the design of generators that has been used worldwide till date. He believed that the earth can be a generator rotating between two magnetic poles that could be used to harness a limitless amount of power when it is tapped using the correct shape or medium of device.
    • He proposed what is called “Tesla’s Electromagnetic Pyramid“, which is a way to generate electricity from the spinning earth itself. It resembled the triangular shape of a pyramid.
    • But it is believed that he realized through his investigations that was more than the shape. It was the location of the pyramid that created the power.
    • He went on to build a model, near Colorado Springs and then on the East Coast, based on the laws of construction followed by the Pyramids of Giza.
    • But the discovery and device remains a mystery after his demise.
    • The location of the Pyramid is roughly 30 degrees north. The deviation could be because the latitude was derived based on astronomy. Due to the lens effect of the atmosphere on earth, there is a tiny difference between the horse latitude and their astronomical latitude
    • This value is special, because it is exactly one third the way from the equator to the North Pole.
  • The accurate horse latitude coordinate of The Great Pyramid is 29.9736897 degree North. This is exactly equal to the speed of light in vacuum at meters per second, which is 299,736,897 meters/second.
  • It is aligned within 360th of a degree of North. Physicists today believe that the minute difference in the degree of alignment could be because of the fact the the Earth’s axis / wobble shifts and hence altering today’s cardinal north would make this difference although it was aligned precisely in the past . This pyramid is regarded as the most accurately aligned structure on earth to the true North in the past.
  • Also, the placement on earth itself shows significance. When circles are drawn through its ordinal and cardinal directions, the circumference is meant to cover most of the land mass on earth. Thus, the pyramid is technically at the center of the land mass of earth.
  • The unit of measurement used was “Royal Cubit
    • 1 Royal Cubit = 1.86 feet = 1/25,000,000 X (Pole diameter of earth)
    • That is, one cubit is exactly equal to one twenty-five millionth of the pole diameter of earth
    • If you chop the entire length from the North Pole to the South Pole into 25 million pieces of equal length, then each of them is 1 cubit.
  • The length of the base is 365.242 cubits. This is exactly equal to the number of days the earth would take to complete one revolution around the Sun.

Takeaway from the Great Pyramid

It is clearly evident that the purpose of building “The Great Pyramid” (Pyramid of Khufu in Giza) is attributed to both spiritual and scientific reasons. When Egyptologists choose to believe that it was just a tomb, it is too na├»ve to dismiss the whole lot of scientific numbers associated with it as mere coincidences. Leave alone the scientific theories, the truth revealed by the natural language of the universe – “Mathematics & Numbers” is just not something that can be neglected.

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