Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx The Pyramids of Giza, built between 2589 and 2504 BC.
The Pyramids of Giza, built between 2589 and 2504 BC. [click image to enlarge] Constructed between 2589 BC and 2504 BC, the Egyptian pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, built in that order, are a testament to ancient planning and engineering.
How these pyramids were built is a source of speculation and debate, with a general consensus that ramps of some form, and a tremendous amount of brute human labor, were used. When they were completed the pyramids were encased in white limestone, most of which is lost today.
Despite the differences between them (Khufu’s pyramid is several times the mass of Menkaure’s) the southeast tip of each pyramid aligns together almost precisely. Each pyramid had a mortuary and valley temple, with a causeway connecting them. They also had smaller pyramids referred to as “satellite” or “queens” pyramids. The Sphinx, an enigmatic monument usually associated with king Khafre, stands watch near his valley temple. In addition, tombs sprawling to the east and west of Khufu’s pyramid contain the remains of officials, royal relatives and others who had the privilege to be buried there.
To the south of the Sphinx is the “Wall of the Crow,” which is a 656 feet (200 meters) long and 32 feet (10 m) thick. South of it is a place known, in the words of the excavators, as “the lost city” that housed at least some of the pyramid builders.
When it was completed by Khufu, the Great Pyramid rose 481 feet (146 m). Today, with the loss of the some of the stone, it is slightly shorter, measuring 455 feet (138 m). It was the tallest building in the world until the 14th century, when the Lincoln Cathedral was completed in England.
Three smaller pyramids, often referred to as “queens’ pyramids,” are located adjacent to Khufu’s pyramid. It’s difficult to say for sure whom they belonged to but one of them may have been for Khufu’s mother, Hetepheres. In addition, a smaller “satellite” pyramid, located between the queens’ pyramids and Khufu’s, was discovered in the 1990s.
Seven boat pits have been found at Khufu’s pyramid, two on the south side, two on the east side, two in between the queens’ pyramids and one located beside the mortuary temple and causeway. The best preserved boat, carefully reassembled from over 1,200 pieces, is 142 feet (43 m) long, with wooden planks and oars. The purpose of these boats is a mystery. [Natural Disasters in Ancient Egypt Revealed]
Internally, Khufu’s pyramid held three chambers. A grand gallery lead up to the “king’s chamber,” a red granite room that contains a now-empty royal sarcophagus. In the center of the pyramid is the so-called “queen’s chamber,” although it probably never held a queen. Beneath the pyramid is a subterranean chamber, its purpose, like the queen’s chamber, a mystery.
Both the king’s chamber and the queen’s chamber contain two “air shafts” (it’s doubtful they were ever used as such). The shafts from the king’s chamber now lead outside, while the two from the queen’s chamber stop after a distance, robot exploration of one of the shafts revealing what appears to be a door with copper handles along with hieroglyphs.
The construction of Khufu’s pyramid complex was a massive undertaking. Archaeologist Mark Lehner, who excavates at Giza, estimates that — assuming Khufu reigned for about 30 years — an estimated 251 cubic yards (230 cubic meters) of stone per day had to be put down. That’s “a rate of one average-size block every two or three minutes in a ten-hour day,” he writes in his book The Complete Pyramids, adding that estimates for the average size of these pyramid stones are as high as 2.5 tons.
Khufu’s successor, Djedefre, built his pyramid off-site at Abu Roash. The person who succeeded him, Khafre, returned to Giza and built a pyramid that, although smaller than Khufu’s, was on a slightly higher elevation.
It contains only a single satellite pyramid on the outside and inside its architecture is simpler than Khufu’s. It has two entranceways, both on the north side, one located 38 feet (12 m) above the base of the pyramid and another on ground level.
Both entrances lead to passageways that ultimately lead to the burial chamber. Robbed long ago this chamber contains a black granite sarcophagus that, when found in the 19th century, contained the bones of a bull, an animal loaded with religious symbolism in ancient Egypt, the body of the king himself was gone.
The Sphinx and the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt are pictured here. USGS and University of Pennsylvania research shows that ancient pollen and charcoal preserved in deeply buried sediments in Egypt's Nile Delta document the region’s ancient droughts and fires, including a huge drought 4,200 years ago associated with the demise of Egypt's Old Kingdom, the era known as the pyramid-building time.
The Sphinx:Natural Disasters in Ancient Egypt Revealed:Researchers say they've traced a record of ancient Egypt's droughts and fires with fossil pollen and charcoal deposits preserved in the Nile Delta. The record provides evidence for historic climate catastrophes, including a huge drought linked to the downfall of Egypt's Old Kingdom, the era sometimes known as the Age of the Pyramids.
Scientists with the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Pennsylvania expected that they would find less wetland pollen, an indicator of vegetation, and more deposits of charcoal, the leftovers from fires, in buried sediments from times of drought. USGS reported that they found exactly that in four different periods up to 6,000 years ago.
One of those droughts documented in the study occurred around 3,000 years ago and is linked to the fall of the Ugarit Kingdom and famines in the Babylonian and Syrian Kingdoms in the Near East. The researchers also found evidence of a global mega-drought of around 4,200 years ago, which had serious consequences, including famines, and probably played a role in the end of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, USGS officials said.
"Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt said in a statement. "This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people."
The research appears in the journal Geology.
All three of Giza’s pyramids had mortuary temples connecting to valley temples through a causeway. However, in the case of Khafre’s pyramid, his valley temple also has an enigmatic monument nearby known as the Sphinx with an uncompleted temple dedicated to it.
The Sphinx was a mythical creature seen in art throughout the ancient Middle East as well as India and Greece. The face of the giant example at Giza may have been based on that of Khafre. Efforts at conserving and restoring the Sphinx go back at least as far as 3,400 years.
With a height of 215 feet (65 m) and a base of 335 by 343 feet (102 by 105 m), Menkaure’s is by far the smallest of the three pyramids, Lehner notes that its building mass is about one-tenth that of Khufu’s pyramid. Its complex includes three “queens’ pyramids” on its south side.
It’s a mystery as to why it’s so much smaller than the others, it could simply be that there wasn’t room at Giza for another large pyramid or perhaps events during Menkaure’s reign prevented him from building another large structure.
The entranceway is located just above ground level, its passages leading to an antechamber and burial chamber. An ornate sarcophagus was found in the 19th century by Howard Vyse but it was lost when he tried to send it to England, the ship he put it on, the Beatrice, sinking with it.
What purpose did the pyramids have?
The simplest explanation for the use of the pyramids is that they were places of burial for their respective kings, the discovery of a sarcophagus in all three pyramids backing this idea up. The pyramid complexes, and the grave goods once located inside them, helped the king ascend to the afterlife.
Interestingly the spiritual importance of Giza appears to cross the ages. In late 2010, archaeologists announced the discovery of about 400 malnourished people, buried with few grave goods, located near the Wall of the Crow. They date to between 2,700 and 2,000 years ago, two millennia after the pyramids had been built, their burial location suggesting they had a desire to be near Giza. ------------> My opinion by Bluesbaby5050: Let's be frank, none of us present day humans were here when those structures were build, and so we have no true ways of knowing how it all was done, and all of this has only been guessing by the scientists, and people that did the many experiments to seek out the ways, and means to solve these mysteries, and this has only been guessing on the part of many people of great minds, and also by you people in this forum as well. And so the answers to all these important questions will just have to wait their time, until we see what information will be provided to us [if we are still alive by then, to realize how this was done] by the off planet aliens that come here to inform humanity on how they were built when they share with us our lost history. Those of you that want follow others by your watching your Ancient History Channels on your Tel-a-visions must realize that it's all done by guessing on behalf those that you choose to watch, and then believe. If you can prove how this was done, then please do so, and then share, and post your work in this forum so all the readers can learn. I never said any of this was TRUE in the first place, and so when I make postings it does not mean that I believe what the topic matter contains. I just put it out there for people to view, and then they can make their own conclusions. When I do agree with the subject matter, I will add my views to the posting.
http://www.livescience.com/22621-pyramids-giza-sphinx.html By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | August 22, 2012 06:24pm ETFiled under: Ancient / Mythology
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