My rough 'x-ray' drawing shows some of the mysterious inside passages and chambers. It is not to scale.
The pyramids of Egypt are well-known to most people. The largest of them, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, has a double distinction. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is still standing. It is also the oldest of the Seven Wonders.
It was originally built for the pharaoh (ruler) Khofu. The ancient Greeks called him Cheops. (Now is the time to find out how to pronounce these names!) It was built approximately 4,500 years ago, in about the same era as Stonehenge in England.
It covers an area of 5.37 hectares. About 2,300,000 stone blocks used to build it. The weight of a single stone block is estimated at between 2 and 15 tonnes (the average is 2.5 tonnes). The total height was originally 145 metres. Due to the ravages of time, and thieves, it is now only 135 metres high.
The length of one side is 229 metres. The difference between the longest and shortest side is only 20cm. This indicates the enormous skill and accuracy of its architects and builders.
An ancient historian wrote that the building work required 360,000 workers. Others say that about 100,000 workers were needed. It took about 30 years to build.
Archaeologists believe that the Egyptian pyramids were built as tombs, places where pharoahs were buried. The pharoahs were immensely rich, and wanted to be comfortable when they reached what they believed was the life after death. For this reason, many of their treasures were buried with them.
Although the Great Pyramid is still standing, it has suffered some minor disasters. It was originally covered in white marble. This has all been stolen. The treasures in the tomb were looted long ago by tomb-robbers.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops, Challenges
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