The Great Pyramid Essay

The great pyramid was built during the reign of Khufu, 2nd king
of the fourth dynasty (2,720-2,560 BC). It stands on the Giza
plateau nearby Cairo and is the biggest pyramid in the world. It
measures 230 m (756 ft) on each side of its base and originally
measured 147 m (482 ft) high. Beginning in the 10th century AD
the entire Giza complex served as a source of building materials
for the construction of Cairo; as a result, all three pyramids
were stripped of their original smooth outer facing of limestone.

The core masonry consists of large blocks of local limestone
taken from the nearby quarries and built around and over a rocky
knoll. The size of the knoll cannot be determined, since it is
completely covered by the pyramid. The entrance to the pyramid is
in the center of the northern face. It is located in the
thirteenth course of masonry from the base. This entrance has a
pointed roof formed of massive slabs of local limestone and opens
into a long steeply descending passage. From there a 36 meters
long ascending passage leads to a 35 meters long horizontal
passage that leads to the so called ‘Queen’s chamber’. This
chamber measures 5.2 by 5.7 meters and the maximum height of its
pointed roof is about 15 meters. The north and south walls each
have a small hole a few centimeters square about 1 meter from the
floor. These lead into narrow channels that originally opened on
the exterior of the pyramid. At the juncture of the ascending
and horizontal passage is an opening of a shaft which descends to
a depth of 60 meters. It opens into the lower part of the
descending passage, close to the unfinished, underground chamber,
and is believed to have been an escape shaft for the workmen who
filed the ascending passage with huge stones after the king’s

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From the horizontal passage the Grand Gallery, which leads to
the king’s chamber, starts. It is 47 meters long and 8.5 meters
high, and has a corbelled roof. In the center of the floor is a
sunken ramp about 60 centimeters deep. The Grand Gallery ends in
a horizontal granite passage which serves as an antechamber. It
measures 8.4 meters long and 3.1 meters high, and has slots for
three portcullises. Beyond the antechamber is the so-called
‘King’s Chamber’ which is lined, roofed and paved with red
granite. It measures 5.2 by 10.8 meters and is 5.8 meters high.

Its flat roof is formed of nine monolithic slabs of granite. The
northern and southern walls each have an ‘air channel’, one of
which is open to the outside. The Pyramid can be seen to have
about two hundred level courses of squared stones. The layers
all have a different thickness ranging between approximately 50
and 145 centimeters. The average block size is about 1 cubic

On the Khufu pyramid, all the casing elements were removed in
the 14th century. The few casing stones which do remain in the
Great Pyramid all lie in the 1.5 meter thick bottom course and
cannot be representative of the stones which would have been used
in the higher parts of the construction. The only examples of
face work such as this which remain are those on the pyramids at
Meidum, Dashur andGiza.


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