Information on the Great Pyramids

The period of the building of the pyramids was the first brilliant era in the history of Egypt. By this time the government of the Pharaohs had become consolidated and powerful. Moreover, the peculiar conditions of the Nile's overflow barred the peasants from their agricultural work during all the months of the river's flood. The population had so increased that thousands of workmen were thus left idle, subject to the whim of the ruler, who, with that vanity which is a part of human nature, devoted an army of his subjects to building those colossal pyramids, which will probably last through all the coming ages. On the plateau west of Memphis nearly seventy of these stupendous monuments were erected. The three most prominent, because of their prodigious size, are known as the pyramids of Giza, near which city they stand.

The greatest of all is the pyramid of Khufu or Cheops, founder of the fourth dynasty of Egyptian kings. Khufu's pyramid was four hundred and eighty feet high, but the breaking away of its apex has reduced it some thirty feet. Each side of the base is 764 feet in length, and the vast pile contains about 90,000,000 cubic feet of masonry, covering thirteen acres, twice the extent of any other building in the world. This pyramid is notable for several things besides its unprecedented size. It stands exactly on the thirteenth parallel of latitude, and the four sides face with geometric accuracy the cardinal points of the compass. On the north side, in the very middle, fifty-two feet above the original ground level, a door is cut leading into a passage three feet wide and four feet high. This passes downward to a chamber hewn in the rock of the foundation, a hundred feet below the ground level of the base. This chamber is directly under the apex of the pyramid and fully six hundred feet below. Two other chambers lie exactly over the first. Within these sombre graves were placed the stone coffins of the kings, who, despite their greatness and power, were compelled to lie down and share the common fate of mortality. There the royal mummies were put to sleep for centuries, and above them on the walls was graven the story of their deeds when in the flesh. The door of the passage was sealed with a stone and the name of dead monarch was added to the list of gods in the temple.

The pyramids form one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and their building is a problem which even in these latter days it is hard to solve. There is no machine or apparatus in existence today powerful enough to raise those colossal stones to their places in the stupendous pile. It has been suggested that they were moulded in their position by chemical means from the sands of the desert, but the marks of the machinery employed are still distinctly visible, so that the construction of the engines by which the stones were placed is another of the lost arts. It is said that 360,000 men were employed for twenty years in building the Great Pyramid.

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Read about Information on the Great Pyramids in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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