Digging up the past

Chapter 1 Land of the pyramids

Khufu's Great Pyramid

The Great Pyramid

Then came Sneferu's son Khufu, (known to the Greeks as Cheops), who built the biggest pyramid of all - 229 metres from corner to corner, almost a perfect square, and 146 metres high when completed. The pyramid was perfectly oriented to the four points of the compass. Apparently the builders were familiar with the geometrical formula for the circumference of a circle, because the perimeter of the base is exactly equal to the height multiplied by 2pi.r. 2,3000 stones were used in the building of this colossal monumental,  each stone averages 1.2 tonnes in weight and some of them as much as 7 tonnes. (If all these stones were cut into cubes 30cm by 30cm by 30cm, there would be enough of them to go right around Australia twice).

Sixteen and a half metres up the north face and slightly off-centre to the left that had been subsequently filled-in and concealed. From this entrance, a corridor less than 120 centimetres by 120 centimetres slopes down at an angle of 26 degrees, first through the stones of the pyramid and then through the solid bedrock for a distance of 105 metres. Then it levels out and enters an unfinished burial chamber. Down the descending corridor, about 18 metres, another corridor of the same dimensions slopes upwards also at 26 degrees, for a distance of 39 metres. The entrance to this ascending corridor was subsequently plugged from above with three large stones and the mouth of the corridor was faced with a limestone slab so that the entrance could not be seen.

The size of the stones overshadows most people

Ascending passage within the Great Pyramid

Khufu's sarcophagus under the top of the pyramid

At the top of the ascending corridor a passage was cut horizontally into the exact centre of the pyramid, where it terminated in what is called the Queen's Chamber, though it is more likely that this was a place for a statue of the dead king.

In 1986 French scientists used stone-scanning equipment on the pyramid and discovered three chambers on the west side of the passage leading to the Queen's Chamber. A TV lens inserted into one of these chambers revealed that it was empty. The purpose of these chambers is unknown.

Also from the top of the ascending corridor, a superbly constructed gallery sloped upwards 46 metres to the King's burial vault. This vault is lined with polished blocks of granite, floated down the Nile from Aswan, some 1000km upriver to the south. These blocks, weighing up to 15 tonnes each, are so perfectly squared and fitted together that it is not possible to fit a postcard between them. A large granite sarcophagus stands at the south end of this vault. It must have been deposited in the vault as the pyramid was being built because it is slightly larger than the ascending corridor.

Two small 'vents' slant upwards from the side of the vault and reach to the outside of the pyramid. These are not likely to be for ventilation purposes, as is commonly believed, for they would be totally inadequate for the workmen, and the dead king would not need to breathe. They were more likely to have been of ceremonial significance, perhaps to give the king's soul access to the outside world. Recently a small robot was made to crawl up the vent on the south side of the Queen ' s Chamber and it is claimed that there is a stone portcullis door at the top.
Further investigation may reveal what is behind this door.

Aswan quarry produced granite blocks for pyramids

Pink granite showing its true colours

Faulty obelisk left unfinished at the quarry