If you’re planning a trip to Egypt in the future, you probably know that you have to bring with you some other things aside from a pair of quality sunglasses for men or women, as well as decent skin care products that are capable of protecting you from sunburns and other such mishaps.
The first thing you have to bring with you is a guidebook with all of the interesting places you can visit in Cairo, as well as other cities. Egypt is a beautiful and colorful country, but it has gotten a bad rep over the years due to the many armed conflicts that have happened in this location in the past decade or so.
Some state departments might recommend citizens to steer clear of this country, but if you take the necessary precautions and stay in safe places and in the company of the right people, you can rest assured that everything will go well. It goes without saying that, should you ever be in Egypt, you will be interested in visiting the Pyramids, whether up-close or from afar.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the pyramids you might want to know before you set off for your next Egyptian adventure.
They weren’t built by slaves
This is a common misconception, unfortunately, but the fact of the matter is that the Egyptian Empire used to be very rich and powerful, and as such, most of its inhabitants had more than decent working and living conditions. In actuality, those that constructed the pyramids were given tax breaks and were well fed.
The peasants who are said to have worked on them were provided with clothing, shelter, as well as food. Some studies even suggest that more than 4,000 pounds of meat on average was fed to the workers who constructed the Great Pyramid of Giza.
To an untrained eye, the fact that these pyramids were ever built in the first place can seem almost impossible. The question to which almost no one has a decent answer is how the workers managed to move the immense blocks. In case you didn’t know, every block weighs around 2.5 to 15 tons per piece.
The most feasible explanation seems to be that workers used wooden ramps to push the blocks. Aside from this being quite improbable, the construction of the Great Pyramid was made in such a time span that a block should have been set every two and a half minutes. While it might be incredible, the fact is that Ancient Egyptians were amazing mathematicians and they surely came up with a solution to the problem, and it’s probably one that can’t be discovered on account of wood and other such materials being perishable.
For 3800 years, the Great Pyramid was the tallest structure ever
Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln, England, eventually replaced the Great Pyramid, but the latter was the tallest man-made building in the world for approximately 3,800 years. While the British cathedral stands at 160 meters, the Great Pyramid used to stand at 146.5 but both the absence of the uppermost stone, as well as its gradual erosion made it 138.8 meters high.
They were royal tombs
Unlike modern people, Egyptians firmly believed that life goes on after death and that pharaohs should have everything they require with them in the after-life. The purpose of the pyramids is, however, still unknown as no corpses of an actual pharaoh have been discovered in any of them. On the other, it is suspected that not all of the intricate tunnels systems have been opened or revealed by archaeologists.
Besides, many of the tombs were robbed throughout the 20th century and earlier, and since expensive artifacts such as jewelry pieces were typically buried with the mummy, it made more sense to the thief to steal it as a whole.
They’re aligned with the North Pole
In case you didn’t know, the Great Pyramid is perfectly aligned with the North Pole, and it’s even more so compared to the Greenwich Observatory located in London, which is a modern building designed and constructed by modern architects; as such, it should have been smarter. The supposition is that Ancient Egyptians used complex algorithms to determine the location of the North Star.
The writing’s not on the wall
Something that makes the Pyramid of Khufu stand out from the crowd is that, unlike the other pyramids, it doesn’t contain any writing or hieroglyphics at all. None have been found on the inside which appears to be quite odd considering that the Ancient Egyptians’ love for telling stories and keeping track of history, especially when it comes to the pharaohs.
The Golden Age
The three Giza pyramids were constructed during the Golden Age, the period where the fourth dynasty of the Egyptian old kingdom held the power. As we have noted above, they were mainly designed to serve as the tombs of pharaohs until the point where they moved to the after-life. Ra, the god of Sun, was the one that was worshipped during that time, unlike the one during Akhenaten, who tried switching to a monotheist religion by worshipping Aten, the god of the disk of the sun.
Smaller buildings around them
The pyramids, as we know them today or have seen them in pictures, used to stand in the center of a necropolis, which basically were smaller tomb towns. The pyramid was the only monument designed for the pharaoh’s tomb. In its proximity, though, there were also several temples where people could place offerings. The Sphinx is believed to be one such place.
Even though the climate of Egypt, in general, and that of the desert, in particular, is more or less challenging, the temperature inside the pyramids remains a constant 60 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s about 20 degrees Celsius). As one might guess, it can get quite cold at night and rather scalding during the day outside, but not inside the pyramids.
Closing the circle
Oddly enough, the end of the pyramid building age came to a halt with the one that belonged to Pharaoh Pepy II Neferkare. His pyramid is located at Saqqara, which is the place where Djoser’s pyramid lies, too, and that one’s the first ever to have been built. So, quite interestingly, the first can be found in the same place as the last.