A trip to Egypt is indeed a bucket list-worthy tour. A camel ride under the sun along the bank of the longest river in the world, a walk among rich archeological sites that lay as the only reminiscences of a rich civilization, or better yet, as some say, the ruins of a lost civilization. Egypt indeed holds a special place in my heart as my first plane ride was a visit to Egypt.
Among all the significant landmarks in Egypt, everybody remembers one monument as soon as they hear the name of the country: the pyramids. When I first saw huge blocks of rocks piled together in the shape of a pyramid, I was a six-year-old girl who was too scared to even look at the top of the pyramid. The feeling of a rock toppling down and crushing me to the ground shrouded my thoughts on that day. Fifteen years later, looking back at that 6-year-old girl, I regret not choosing to explore what lay inside those pile of rocks.
Pyramids are tombs built for the kings and queens of ancient Egypt. The first thing to note when studying the pyramids is that the pyramids’ location was guided by mythology. Most were built on the west bank of the Nile and for a specific reason. As the pyramids were the final resting places of pharaohs, it only makes sense they should reside where their souls can begin their journey into the afterlife. For ancient Egyptians, the afterlife and the sun were closely intertwined. Osiris, an Egyptian god, closely connected with the afterlife, represented the strength of new life. Over time, he also became associated with the cycle of the sun and how it brought new growth from dormant seeds.
Thanks to this association, the setting sun came to symbolize death and the sun “died” in the west each night. The souls of the pharaohs were meant to connect with the setting sun before rising again in the morning, a symbol of eternal life. By placing pyramids to the west of the Nile, they lived right in the area that metaphorically signified death. Amongst all the pyramids in Egypt, the grandest of all, the great pyramid, surely holds the most stupefying details of Egyptian history.
The great pyramid of Giza, aka the pyramid of Khufu, is the largest pyramid of Egypt. Situated on the west bank of the Nile River near Al-Jīzah in northern Egypt, the great pyramid of Giza covers over 13 acres of land. Like the Eiffel Tower for France, and the Burj Khalifa for Dubai, the great pyramid of Giza stands as the definition of Egypt. The limitless specialties of the landmark gave recognition to the pyramids as a wonder of the ancient world. The Egyptian pyramids were declared as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO in 1979.
More than two million blocks of stone, each weighing nearly 2.5 tons, were pushed, pulled, lifted, and dragged into place on the Great Pyramid. What is significant is that the pyramid has been estimated to be about 4600 years old by two principal approaches: indirectly, through its attribution to Khufu and his chronological age, based on archaeological and textual evidence; and directly, via radiocarbon dating of organic material found in the pyramid and included in its mortar.
The Great Pyramid’s core is made of yellowish limestone blocks. The outer casing and inner passages are of finer light-colored limestone. The interior burial chamber is built of huge blocks of granite. The pyramid has three main chambers the king’s chamber, the queen’s chamber, and the subterranean chamber. Another significant segment of the pyramid is the grand gallery connecting the main entrance with the king’s chamber.
Until the construction of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311, Giza’s great pyramid was considered the tallest structure in the world at the height of 479 feet (146 meters). The biggest surprise regarding the structure comes with this fact. When even the wheel was not invented, how were humans able to lift stones, each weighing 2.5 tons up to such a height? Egyptologists are still attempting to find out what kind of technology was used to build such an extraordinary structure. Some debate that the ancient Egyptians placed heavy stones on a sledge that workers pulled over the sand but pulling 2 million rocks to a height would not have been a possible task either.
Ancient Egypt and astrology were intrinsically entwined. It is said that they took measurements from the stars to align their pyramids accurately. Furthermore, the ancient Egyptians have used two bright stars in the Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellations to align the great pyramid of Giza in a north-south direction. Some also suggest that the Giza pyramid also functioned as a sundial, and the ancient Egyptians could tell the time based on the shadow of the pyramid.
The dependence on astrology and advanced mathematical knowledge in building the great pyramid and the Mass amounts of facts of earth encoded into the pyramid gave birth to a novel series of ideas. Was there an extraterrestrial involvement in the construction of the pyramid? The almost accurate alignment to the true north is said to be impossible in an age where modern technology didn’t exist. The Egyptologists have found that the great pyramid is located in the center of the earth’s landmass. The next exciting fact is each of the pyramid’s four walls, when measured as a straight line, make a total of 36,524 inches – if you move the decimal point over you get, 365.24. This is the exact length of the solar year as measured by modern science. What are the chances of all these becoming a mere coincidence?
We still don’t know the purpose of the pyramids. Maybe they are just tombs made to place the remains of the ancient kings and queens, or maybe there was extraterrestrial involvement. There are so many mysteries yet to be resolved, so many things we don’t know. The only thing we can be sure of is the great pyramid of Giza, built to endure an eternity, has done just that.
– Rtr Dinithi Athulathmudali