The Great Pyramids
The Great Pyramids of Giza are one of the most enthralling and captivating pieces of architecture the world has ever seen. One of the seven wonders of the world, these ancient structures continue to amaze us to this day.
Scientists and historians have studied, debated, and even guessed how structures of this magnitude could be built with near perfect measurements. The baffling and wonderment of the pyramids have even caused some to suggest they were built by visitors from another planet.
However, there has been no proof of such a thing occurring. A more sustainable theory is that the pyramids were the result of trial and error through hundreds of years. Scientists found evidence of much less sophisticated pyramids built well before the magnificent Giza pyramids we see today were built. The royal mortuary complex runs inline with this theory.
Three Generations of Three Pyramids
The three main pyramids of Giza were built over three generations by Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, respectively. The pyramids were built to commemorate and hold the body of each ruler when they pass. Each pyramid in the royal mortuary complex had a temple and a long causeway built by stone to a temple in the valley 1km away to the east.
The Pyramids of the Queens
Smaller, less-known, but equally as fascinating, pyramids are strewn across the plain surrounding the 3 large pyramids. Built to house the bodies of the queens and other important figures, the smaller structures act as a satellite to the 3 most famous pyramids.
Egyptologists suspect the triangular shape of the pyramid is in reference to the rays of the sun. Ancient Egyptians documented how the pharaoh would reach the heavens by using the sun’s rays to climb. Earlier pyramids, like the Step Pyramid of Dsoser, were designed in the shape of stairs.
How Were the Great Pyramids of Giza Built?
How the pyramids were constructed has been up for much debate. The methods used to build such giant structures in a time when tools were very basic. One such theory is that there were skilled craftsmen and builders who worked on the construction. They were helped by approx. 2000 peasants who were divided into smaller working groups.
To move the 2.5 tonne blocks from the quarry to the building area, experts estimate it would take approximately 20 men 20 minutes. To make the process easier, the path would be lubricated in order for them to slide the blocks. 350 stones could be moved daily at this rate, with the upper stones being much smaller, therefore weighing less.
The Giza Pyramids Nowadays
Looking at the magnificent Great Pyramids of Giza on the television or in photographs, you would assume they are in the middle of the desert, adding to their allure. Many will be surprised to find a large metropolis right on the doorstep of these ancient wonders.
Nearby, lies a golf course and resort a stone’s throw away. The Giza suburbs are extremely close to the Sphinx, and this brings a whole host of problems. This includes pollution, crime, waste, traffic, and crowds. Unfortunately, the pyramids are now under threat from these problems, causing many who wish to preserve these astonishing structures to be protected.
Back in 1979, the Giza Pyramids were officially inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. The organization has made 12 sponsored missions to evaluate the state of them since 1990. Not only the pyramids, but the Sphinx has also been the subject of measures to reduce the damage done by controlling the expansion of the nearby suburbs.
Air pollution from the burning of the waste is resulting in the stones degrading. Huge holes can be seen, even on Google Earth, where illegal quarrying has taken place on the neighboring plateau. In 2011, Egypt was in political turmoil with an uprising taking place. Tourism was badly affected, which is one of the most important industries for Egypt.
UNESCO has worked tirelessly to protect the pyramids from any further damage. Recently, a highway was planned to cut through the desert and inbetween two of the Great Pyramids. After much protest, the Egyptian government eventually agreed to build the highway North of the structures.
Since then, local building planners have called for a multilane tunnel to be built directly underneath the Giza Plateau. The booming population of 20 million – the largest in Africa, requires a solution to maintaining the pyramids and serving the local population.
Calls for site management and in-depth studies of the projects are being spearheaded by UNESCO and ICOMOS. They hope to reduce the expansion of modern structures into the Giza Plateau and halt any illegal quarrying or dumping.
The Great Pyramids of Giza are going to require protection as the battle between a rapidly growing population and significant history collide.