All three pyramids were most likely built during the 2500s BC. That’s over 4,500 years ago.
Construction of the first pyramid was ordered by a ruler named Khufu (Cheops in Greek). His rule started around the year 2590 BC and continued for maybe 30 years. Construction of his pyramid took 20 or 30 years.
Khufu’s pyramid is mostly made of limestone brought from nearby quarries. Some if it is made of granite brought 600 miles (1,000 km) down the Nile from
People who get paid to study ancient
Egyptologists also disagree on how many workers were involved. Estimates range from tens to hundreds of thousands.
When workers finished Khufu’s pyramid around 2560 BC, it stood 481 feet (147 m) high. Over time it suffered theft and erosion and is now 25 feet (8 m) shorter. Each side of the pyramid is 756 feet (230 m) long. The side of the pyramid with the main entrance faces due north.
Khufu’s son Khafre became ruler of
Khafre outdid his father by also ordering the construction of what we now call the Sphinx. The Sphinx was actually sculpted out of the limestone bedrock located a few hundred meters east of Khafre’s pyramid. It is 241 feet (74 m) long, 63 feet (19 m) wide, and 66 feet (20 m) high. It has the body of a lion but the head of Khafre.
After 500 BC,
Menkaure was the son of Khafre. Like his father and grandfather, he too ordered the construction of a pyramid for himself at
Construction of these pyramids took a sense of permanence we lack today. Cutting 2,300,000 stones and putting them carefully into place, by hand and using no wheels, means that no real change in society, culture, or nature was expected ever.
Their construction also took an unimaginable amount of wealth.
Finally, and oddly enough, this unusual sense of unlimited time and wealth was expressed in the construction of just three tombs (and one huge statue). A tomb is a place where a dead body is put. So Khufu used 2,300,000 cut stones simply to mark the spot where his dead body would be put.