Construction

Egyptian idea of a pyramid had a square base, with four equilateral triangles meeting at a single point at the top. Structures could be solid or contain passages and chambers inside.

Solid pyramids where built either with roughly shaped stones, or consisted of a mass of rubble held together by an external casing of stone.

All the great pyramids seem to have been built for the purpose of containing chambers and passages. And since they wanted passages and chambers to remain intact, they took great care to use solid construction throughout.

There are 60 to 70 pyramids in Egypt. Most of them are found in the Memphis area. Some of them are still in a nearly perfect shape. Some are more or less in ruins. But most still preserve their ancient shape, when seen from afar. Two of them greatly exceeded all the other pyramids with their dimensions. They are correctly called "the Great Pyramid", and the "Second Pyramid". There's also a third pyramid in near proximity to the great two, called "the Third Pyramid", but it is much smaller.

Third Pyramid

Base: square of 354 feet on each side.

Height: 218 feet

Contents: 9 million feet of solid masonry

Weight: 702,460 tons

The height is not impressive. There are some churches that reach a height of 220 feet. But masonry is excellent, the mass is immense, and the ingenuity of construction is remarkable.

Inside, were a series of chambers. The largest of these, almost at the vertex of the pyramid, was empty. Another one contained the sarcophagus of the king, Men-kau-ra, who is believed to have built the pyramid. The chamber had an arched roof, and formed of a single mass of blue-black basalt. It was 8ft X 3ft X 3ft externally, and 6ff X 2ft internally. In the sarcophagus, was a wooden coffin of the monarch, with his name carved on its lid. The tomb-chamber, though carved in the rock, had been paved and lined with slabs of solid stone, which were fastened to the native rock by iron cramps.

Section of the Third Pyramid

Second Pyramid

Two passages lead from the outside into the tomb chamber. And the chamber is located on the ground level, beneath the vertex of the pyramid.

The first passage went through the substance of the pyramid for a distance of a 110 feet at a descending angle of 25 55', after which it became horizontal, and was tunnelled through the native rock on which the pyramid was built.

The second passage was completely in the rock. It began with a descent at an angle of 21 40', which continued for 100 feet; it was then horizontal for 50 feet; after which it ascended gently for 96 feet, and joined the first passage about midway between the tomb chamber and the outside.

Section of the Second Pyramid

Therewas no coffin in the sarcophagus at the time it was discovered, and no inscriptions. But it is believed it belonged to the predecessor of Men-kau-ra.

The Great Pyramid

Also called the First Pyramid of Ghizeh, this is probably the greatest human construction of ancient times.

Base length: 764 ft.

Height: 480 ft

Volume: 89,000,000 ft3

Weight: 6,840,000 tons

Area: 13 acres

Basement stone dimensions: 30ft X 5ft X 5ft

Basement stone volume: 600 - 700 ft3

Basement stone weight: 46 - 57 tons

If the contents of the pyramid were laid out in a line of 1 ft wide and 1 ft high, it would cover 17,000 miles, or 2/3 of the earth's circumference.

22,000 ordinary houses could have been built from the contents of the pyramid.

The stones from which the outside of the pyramid is built are getting smaller as you go higher. But at the lower levels, the size of the stones used are way beyond what modern construction is able to tackle. The stones even at the top are carefully cut and squared.

Ancient historian Herodotus says the construction must have required labor of 100,000 men for a period of 20 years.

Section of the Great Pyramid