The Great Pyramids

Located on the west bank of the Nile River on the outskirts of Cairo, the pyramids at Giza, Egypt, rank as some of the best-known monuments in the world. The ancient Egyptians constructed the pyramids to serve as royal tombs. Built without the use of cranes, pulleys, or lifting tackle, the massive structures stand as testaments to the engineering skills of their makers.

The Great Pyramid in Egypt, built by King Khufu during his reign (2551 BC-2528 BC), has a complex interior. The illustration, on the next page, contains information about the most important passageways and rooms in the structure.

The base of the Great Pyramid forms a nearly perfect square, with only a 19 cm difference between its longest and shortest sides, out of a total length of about 230 m. This huge square is also almost exactly level. When newly completed, the Great Pyramid rose 146.7 m, nearly 50 stories high. The pyramid’s core probably includes a hill of unexcavated rubble, making it impossible to determine its exact number of blocks. Researchers estimate that 2.3 million blocks were used to build the Great Pyramid, with an average weight of about 2.5 metric tons per block. The largest block weighs as much as 15 metric tons.