The pyramid is today the most famous symbol of Egypt: it is the final evolution of the first idea of burial of the first pharaonic dynasties that started from a simple anonymous tomb in the vastness of the desert, up to the perfect fulfillment of the pyramis (of the form of fire) , the first and essential symbol of the 4 fundamental elements of man. From the first mastaba, basic steps with a truncated pyramid shape, the pyramids became something more complex thanks to the great Egyptian architect Imhotep, who I think to superimpose more mastaba, who originated the first step pyramid in the Saqqara desert. But we have not yet arrived at the definitive version of the classic pyramid that we know: King Snefru, father of Cheops, studied various solutions, and put them into practice,
The pyramids are the tangible symbol of determination, ingenuity and human supremacy over death : for this reason they will continue to intimately attract us in a total way.
Let’s discover together the most important Pyramids of Egypt .
1 – Pyramid of Cheops
The rocky plateau, or necropolis, of the city of Giza, a handful of kilometers from Cairo, hosts the most famous and best preserved Egyptian pyramids: an incalculable heritage gathered in a single common territory. The Pyramid of Cheops, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, is certainly the best known: it was built around 2500 BC with 2 million stone blocksand an indisputable grandeur, although time has changed its dimensions and ruined the external covering, which was made of stone, with a simply smooth external conformation.
Cheops was part of a more complex funerary complex, almost totally lost, except for a few examples such as the Pyramid of Chefren and Menkaure.
To date it is the only wonder still existing among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
- Dimensions : height 146.6 meters originally, now reduced to 138.8 meters / width 230.36 meters
- Period : 2550 BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (4th dynasty)
- Recommended cards, tickets and tours: Half day excursion to the Great Pyramids of Giza
2 – Pyramid of Chefren
The Pyramid of Chefren, part of the Cheops complex, slightly smaller than the famous “sister”, has the clear characteristic of the top covered with white Tura limestone , dotted with renowned limestone quarries, exploited since predynastic period. Inside, the only funerary furniture that could be found was a red granite sarcophagus, without inscriptions, with bovine bones next to it. Thanks to the Greek historian Herodotus, we know with certainty that the base was also made of red and gray granite from Aswan.
- Dimensions : height 136 meters / width 216 meters
- Period : 2550 BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Khafre (4th dynasty)
- Card, ticket and recommended tour: Desert Safari along the Pyramids of Giza by quad
3 – Pyramid of
Menkaure Photo by Ben Snooks The Pyramid of Menkaure closes the triptych of Cheops and Chefren: the smallest, built in various stages, with various materials and different techniques : blocks much larger than the others, but with imperfect surfaces, which it makes it appear as a disharmonious structure with respect to the result of its peers.
Originally conceived with a total coverage of red Aswan granite, then with the premature death of King Micerino it falls back on the partial use of Tura limestone, in a shorter time than the construction of the initial part.
The Pyramid of Menkaure is therefore a “small” structure, albeit very articulated in its anatomy, and with a great deal of precious granite from Upper Egypt, very hard and difficult to work. The peculiarity of this pyramid concerns a decree, issued by Micerino himself, which states that “… no man carries out forced labor but according to his own satisfaction”: an unusual inclination in the severe and very hard concept of the construction of the pyramids.
- Dimensions : height 65.5 meters originally, now reduced to 62 meters / width 103.4 meters
- Period : twenty-sixth century BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Menkaure (4th dynasty)
- Recommended cards, tickets and tours: Full day pyramid tour and Egyptian museum
4 – Pyramid of Djoser
The Pyramid of Djoser is certainly the first example of a majestic stone structure in the world , since mud bricks were used up to that time. We are talking about 4,600 years ago: the dawn of the entire history of the pyramids, so much so that Djoser is also known as the “Step Pyramid”, that is, the real transition from the first single mastaba to the new concept of overlapping more mastaba, 6 to be precise .
The necropolis of Saqqara, north-east of the ancient city of Memphis, hosts the wonderful idea of the great architect Imhotep, entirely surrounded by a wall inspired by the White Wall of Narmer, and covered with white limestone blocks from Tura: a monument which, in Imhotep’s conception, had to represent a real staircase towards the sun.
- Dimensions : height 62 meters / width 109 x 125 meters
- Period : c. 2630 BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Djoser (3rd dynasty)
- Recommended cards, tickets and tours: Tour of the Pyramids of Djoser and Dahshur
5 – Red Pyramid
Between the necropolis of Giza and Saqqara, we find Dashur, which is actually an agglomeration of some pyramids, noble tombs and a village of workers and officials . A place of absolute tourist and archaeological importance, which in 1967 became an impassable military area, and then returned to public use in 1996. It remained a much less “studied” area than the other more famous and almost inflated ones: yet right here and A pyramid of nodal importance in the history of Egypt was built: Snefru, or Red Pyramid, due to the color of its stones, built in a square plan, inclined at 45 ° and progenitor of the famous Cheops, with which it competes on equal terms, despite has always been second in terms of popularity.
- Dimensions : height 104 meters / width na
- Period : c. 2616 BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Snefru (4th dynasty)
- Recommended cards, tickets and tours: Private tour to the Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Memphis
6 – Pyramid of Snefru
In the Dashur area, the same Pharaoh Snefru, after having built the Red Pyramid, wanted to build another, the largest in the area, which was called the Rhomboidal Pyramid of Snefru . Its peculiarity is in the slopes: here we find, from the base, a slope that is 54 °, but reduced to 43 ° on the top. In reality there was a first project with the smaller base and a slope of 58 °, but probably due to stability problems, the slope was reduced and the whole completed less accurately. Because of its limestone exterior, and the best preserved pyramid.
- Dimensions : height 105 meters / width na
- Period : 2560 BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Snefru (4th dynasty)
7 – Pyramid Meidum
Photo by KurohitoThe Pyramid of Meidum takes its name from the homonymous archaeological site, south of the capital Cairo. If the first news of the pyramid came from the Danish explorer Norden in 1737, it was only with the archaeologist Mariette in 1881, that it was possible to access it, and with the Egyptologist Petrie the first excavations began, between 1888 and 1891, that they managed to give the right nomenclature and rationality to what was coming to the surface.
This very particular pyramid also takes the name of “False Pyramid”, because of its steps that make it look more like a mastaba, actually. The original project included seven steps, when it was then preferred to add an eighth, so as to balance the various differences in height.
- Dimensions : height 42 meters / width: 144 meters
- Period : about III millennium BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Tomb of Pharaoh Snefru (4th dynasty), which completes the work begun by the previous Pharaoh Huni
8 – The Great Sphinx of Giza
The Sphinx, a mythological figure with the head of a man and the body of a lion , is the most famous and majestic symbol of Egyptian culture in the necropolis of Giza. Limestone structure obtained from a rocky substrate, the Sphinx is something that takes your breath away for its grandeur and for its proportions, being the largest monolithic statue among the various monuments of this type.
Built during the construction of the various pyramids of Giza, and the only “isolated” sphinx, since the subsequent sphinxes are always conceived in pairs, due to their function of protection of a building. Sculpted directly, and in some small parts remodeled with repairs and additions, the structure has different rocky layers, from the most fragile type of the base, up to the hardest corresponding to the head: its sunken position causes its burial in the sand in alternating phases , along with the erosion of rainwater infiltrations and Nile floods.
The hidden passages of the Sphinx , which feed various popular legends and researches, are the essence of the charm of this magnificent structure, known and admired all over the world.
- Dimensions : height 20 meters / width 6 meters
- Period : about 2558 – 2532 BC
- Pharaoh / deity : Built by Chefren or by his father Cheops (4th dynasty)
- Recommended cards, tickets and tours: Private tour of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza
How Pyramids Were Built
Solved the Mystery!
The method of construction of the pyramids is one of the most fascinating mysteries in the history of the earth. We have always wondered about the mechanism that allowed the transport of the enormous blocks of stone , but above all about the technology used for the almost perfect alignment of the Pyramid of Giza with the four cardinal points .
In recent years it seems that some scholars have managed to unravel the mystery. As for the transport of the blocks, the archaeologists of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities have discovered a particular ramp, presumably used to lift and tow the blocks. It had long been suspected that something similar existed, but so far no traces have been found. Finally this theory has been verified by some precious archaeological finds near the Hatnub Quarry. But that’s not all, in addition to the remains of the ramp, precious engravings and even a papyrus have been found which confirms its usefulness. According to these testimonies, the transport took place with the help of ropes and wooden logs that were used to overcome uphill stretches and to position the blocks on large boats.
Regarding the alignment with the cardinal points, the engineer Glen Dash has elaborated a theory according to which the builders were able to achieve this precision using as a reference the autumnal equinox, or that “moment of the earth’s revolution around the Sun in where the latter is located at the zenith of the equator “when day and night have the same duration.