The Egyptian Pyramids: How were they built?

Ever since I was little, whenever I pictured Egypt in my mind, the first thing I would see was giant pyramids. As beautiful as that picture may be, it tends not to be an original idea. With Egypt containing more than 100 pyramids throughout the country, it comes to no surprise why the country is considered pyramid country. Although there are many pyramids, no others stand out as much as the Great Pyramids of the Giza Plateau. Being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it comes to no question as to why Egypt is so famous for their Great Pyramids. With the Khufu pyramid standing 455ft tall, the Khafre pyramid standing 448 ft tall, and Menkaure standing 215 ft tall, these massive man-made structures leave tourists and visitors all around the world wondering how they were constructed.

Over the years, many construction techniques were theorized on how the Egyptians built their famous pyramids. One of the most daunting hurdles the Egyptians had to face was getting extremely large and heavy stones all the way up the pyramid. According to a few studies, it is estimated that the Great Pyramids comprise of some 2.4 million stone block that would average a size of 2.5 tons each. Because of this hurdle, the Egyptians had to come up with a plan that would help aid in the transportation of stones up the side of the pyramid.

The only PROVEN tactic used for this task was the usage of ramps. These ramps had to be constructed up the side of the pyramid at large inclines while they were entirely made up of mud brick and rubble. In addition to the ramp, the Egyptians had to innovate a way to ease the transport of the large, heavy stones up the ramp. For this, the Egyptians used sledges to drag the stones up the pyramid sides. As the pyramid grew, more and more ramps were needed to be constructed. Once many tiers were constructed (the internal construction), packing blocks were used to fill the “step” of the pyramid that were created by the tiers. Once the packing blocks were put in place (typically Limestone), the completed structure of the pyramid would represent a true pyramid, one worthy of a king.

The building of the Great Pyramid, Khufu, was estimated to have taken nearly 20 years from start to finish. With this time estimation, it would have required the workers to have placed 1.1 blocks in their final resting place on the pyramid literally every to minutes (and this is taking into account their work schedule would consist of at least 10 hours a day, ever day, for every 365 days)!!!! After taking in the shear amount of hurdles the Egyptians had to overcome to create these structures, it creates the opportunity for others to really grasp the tremendous work the Egyptians must have done to have achieved such magnificent structures. No wonder why they are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

1 thought on “The Egyptian Pyramids: How were they built?

  1. Sam Miller

    I too have envisioned Egypt in my mind growing up. Although I must say that I didn’t ever really see the pyramids as the first thing that came to mind. It was more that I thought of the Prince of Egypt movie. Growing up, it was always the Prince of Egypt. Then the Ten Commandments movie was added and I focused on that more. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I saw “Scooby Doo! in Where’s my Mummy?” that kind of forgot about the Ten Commandments. Even though I have learned more facts about Egypt, its pharaohs, discoveries, etc and I know that the movie was completely fake, I still think of “Scooby Doo! in Where’s my Mummy?” whenever Egypt is mentioned.
    Maybe it is because I am a romantic at heart (and I do love my fairytales) that I want to believe that there is a secret tomb beneath the Great Sphinx. I don’t think it would be Cleopatra’s, but any secret tomb under it would be awesome.
    I recently watched a NOVA episode that was about 2 groups of scientists and builders trying to recreate the Sphinx – on a much smaller scale of course – in order to figure out how long it would have taken workers to chisel and mold the limestone into the shape of the Sphinx and also try to figure out what pharaoh built it. Since the nose is gone, it is hard to tell which pharaoh it looks like and there is some evidence suggesting that the Sphinx also had a beard. One guy was building a small likeness of the Sphinx out of the same limestone that was used on the Sphinx. 2 other people got a block of limestone and starting chiseling away stone with handmade mallets and chisels that the ancient Egyptians would have probably used. They then switch to modern tools in order to finish the nose in time.

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