Although it’s not an official title, of all Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is the undisputed king. This could be because it was built so many centuries before the rest, in c.2650BC, or perhaps because it remained the tallest man made structure in the world for over 3000 years until the 1800s. On the other hand, it could be the undisputed king because it is the only one of all seven that still stands today, despite its age. Whatever reason you would like to choose, this structure is a man made marvel.
Due to its age, it’s difficult to know the exact details of the construction of the Pyramid, let alone how the slaves working on it managed to lift each 2.5 ton stone to rest on top of the previous. It’s widely believed, though, that the Great Pyramid was a tomb built for King Cheops (also known as Khufu), who died in C.2566BC. There are three chambers within the Pyramid, one known as the ‘Queen’s Chamber’ which lies high up, the Grand Gallery and the King’s chamber, where the sarcophagus was laid.
The greatest mystery surrounding the Great Pyramid of Giza is where the incredible amount of treasure King Khufu almost certainly would have been buried with, his body and the lid of his sarcophagus went, and how. As far as archaeologists have found, there were no exits made by robbers (many pyramids were robbed at this time) as the slaves who built the structure left granite plugs to block off the chamber entrances.
It was Abdullah Al Manum, an Arab leader of the Muslim state, and his team that first explored the Great Pyramid of Giza in just c.820AD. They discovered the Queen’s Chamber, the King’s Chamber and the Grand Gallery but after finding the King’s chamber empty, they stripped it of its limestone casing for their own buildings in Cairo; an act that was thought to have been carried out in revenge.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus also documented many details about the pyramid, although modern day historians maintain that much of what Herodotus wrote was sensationalist and exaggerated. Nineteenth century astronomer Richard Proctor held an opposing view of the pyramid to Herodotus and many archaeologists after him. Proctor analyzed the pyramid and explained the chambers and positioning of the structure would have allowed great views of the paths of many stars; he believed it was used as an observatory.
Where it is Today:
The Great Pyramid of Giza is – astoundingly, considering it was built thousands of years ago – the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still stands today. It remains a very popular tourist attraction in Egypt and it’s easy for anyone to visit, if they fly to Cairo airport.
Tourists can take a day trip to the pyramid, or antiquity tours of temples and ruins near the pyramid, along the River Nile that last anywhere from 4 days to a fortnight. If you do decide to visit the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt then it’s a good idea to investigate tours that allow time to go inside, as there is a limit to 150 people at any one time and this is an experience not to be missed. Tourists must also buy their tickets to go inside the pyramid themselves, and considering the office opens at 8.30am they should always arrive early.
We can find out a great deal about this pyramid and the smaller ones that surround it simply by visiting and taking one of the many guided tours that are available to visitors. However, if you don’t want to spend such a large amount of money on a holiday in Egypt then there are various museums around the world with displays dedicated to the Great Pyramid of Giza and its rich history. One such example is in Room 64: Early Egypt, of the British Museum in London, England, where one of its original Fourth Dynasty limestone blocks is kept.
Much of our knowledge of the Great Pyramid of Giza comes from ancient documentation made by historians such as Herodotus. However, because his documentations are thought to have been greatly exaggerated, much of what we know is an approximation made by modern day archaeologists, scientists and historians.