The people of ancient Egypt believed that death on Earth was the start of a journey to the next world.  The embalmed body of the king was entombed underneath or within the pyramid to protect it and allow his transformation and ascension to the afterlife, and a place among the gods.

Each of the Giza Pyramids formed part of a pyramid complex that included an adjoining mortuary temple where rituals for the dead king and for the Egyptian gods may have been carried out.  A causeway ran to a lower temple near the Nile floodplain that acted as an entrance to the complex.  The complex around the Great Pyramid of Khufu also included three minor pyramids for his queens, pits for funerary boats and numerous mastaba tombs for the royal family and officials.

Unfortunately, pyramids became obvious targets for tomb robbers.  The Giza Pyramids were plundered long ago of bodies and anything entombed with them, despite the almost superhuman efforts of the Egyptians to protect the remains of their kings.

“The pyramids at Giza—descendants of primitive ‘stepped’ prototypes built in superimposed layers—are gigantic prisms unique in world architecture, mathematics at an ultimate scale. It is quite possible that Cheop’s Great Pyramid consumed more dressed stone blocks than any structure ever built, an estimated 2,300,000 of them, averaging 2.5 tons each. It is generally thought that the blocks were moved on log rollers and sledges and then ramped into place.”


Khufu or Cheop’s Great Pyramid is 756 feet (241 meters) square in plan, and 481 feet (153 meters) high. The angle of inclination of the triangular faces is about 51.5 degrees. The square of its height equals the area of each triangular face, as determined by Herodotus in 450 B. C. The base of the pyramid covers about 13 acres.

The other two pyramids in the famous trio are Khafre, 704 feet (214.5 meters) square, 471 feet (143.5 meters) high, with a face inclination of 53.2 degrees, and Menkaure, 345.5 feet (110 meters) square, 216 feet (68.8 meters) high, with a face inclination of 51.3 degrees (or possibly 330ft wide and 206 ft high (105m x 65.5m)).

For ease of modeling the pyramids, it may be useful to also know the triangular face height for each as measured along the surface instead of vertically. According to trigonometry, these surface face heights are: Khufu, 612 feet (195 meters); Khafre, 588 feet (179 meters); Menkaure, 276.6 feet (88 meters) (or possibly 263.6 feet (84m)).


~ by ferry1984 on June 27, 2011.

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