We were so excited to continue our hunt to see as many Wonders of the World as we could. So far, we have seen 5 of the man made wonders of the world: the Colosseum in Italy, Petra in Jordan, The Taj Mahal in India, The Great Wall of China, and Machu Piccu in Peru. Finally, we were able to visit the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, the Pyramids!
Anybody who has seen the pyramids in person knows that no picture can show how magnificent these structures are. Some of the rocks used to build them are as tall as I am!
We visited the six most famous pyramids in Egypt. The most well-known is the Great Pyramid of Giza along with the two other giant pyramids beside it. The three giant pyramids are tombs for three pharaohs, the father Khufu, his son Khafre, and his grandson Menkaure.
The biggest one was built for Khufu, the medium sized pyramid, Khafre’s, had to be built smaller than his father’s out of respect, and the smallest one, Menkaure’s, also had to be built smaller than his father’s out of respect.
One interesting thing we learned was that Khafre built his pyramid on higher ground than his father’s to make his own pyramid look bigger, but still be respectful. They were all built sometime between 2550 and 2490 B.C., around 4,500 years ago.
The ancient Egyptian pharaohs built their pyramids as tombs for themselves to contain all of the things they would need in the afterlife such as jewelry, pottery, furniture, and other valuables.
This reminded me of the Terracotta Warriors found in China because Emperor Qin created a whole army of clay warrior statues for him to take to the afterlife so that he would be protected.
What many people don’t know is that there are also three smaller pyramids located around the base of the three main ones. The three smaller pyramids were built for Khufu’s wives.
Nobody really knows how the pyramids were built, but we learned a couple theories.
The first theory is the ancient Egyptians could have built a giant ramp to haul the stones up so they could build the pyramid one level at a time. (This ramp is similar to the ramp the Romans built to attack Masada). The problem with this theory is the ramps would have to be several kilometers long so the stones could be easily moved along.
The second theory is that they built the pyramids using a spiral ramp going around the pyramid as they were building.
I don’t know which theory is true, but let me know what you think in the comments and share any other theories you may have heard.
It is also likely that the pyramids were not built by slaves as most people think, since the work is so precise, it was more likely built by educated laborers and engineers. This is similar to the building of the Acropolis in Greece.
There also used to be a limestone casing on all three pyramids, but most of it has fallen off from past earthquakes. Now there is barely any evidence that the limestone was even there. The limestone which fell from the pyramids was then used by local people to build their homes and other buildings nearby.
Inside the Pyramid
We also had the opportunity to go inside the largest pyramid. There are four sections inside leading up to the burial chamber which held the sarcophagus: the first section was cave-like and rocky, and was easy to go through.
The second section was the most difficult part to go through for all of us. It was a ramp we had to climb up, but it was such a narrow space, we couldn’t stretch our arms out, and the ceilings were so short, even I had to crouch down in order to climb up.
The third section was the same kind of ramp, but it was less narrow, and the ceilings were nice and high, so we felt less trapped.
The last section we had to go through was the crawl space, where it was so narrow and the ceilings were so low that we had to crawl for about 5 meters. Can you imagine how my 6′ 4” dad must have felt?!
Finally we arrived at the burial chamber, which was incredible to see. All of the stones were carefully shaped to fit together like a puzzle. We could only spend a couple minutes inside the room, as it was extremely hot inside and more people were coming in.
It turned out there was only one exit from the pyramid, and it was the same way we came in. The narrow ramps and crawl space that were already small seemed to become even smaller when people were trying to go up to the burial chamber while we were trying to go down at the same time. In the end we exited the pyramid with another Wonder of the World to check off the list, and a great story to tell. What an amazing experience we had!
The pyramids reminded me very much of Machu Piccu in Peru because both structures had giant, heavy stones fitted perfectly together to create a great building without the use of modern technologies.
Next, we visited the Sphinx which, for those of you who don’t know, it’s a giant statue of a lion with the head of an Egyptian Pharaoh. The Sphinx was built as the guardian of the pyramids.
The Sphinx is one of the most impressive and largest statues in Egypt. It was carved out of a single piece of limestone and there is evidence that it was painted, but the colour has worn away. Nobody knows for sure who built the Sphinx, but many people believe it was built for Khafre (who was buried in the second of the three pyramids).
We also found out why the Sphinx is missing its nose:
The Pyramids and the Sphinx were incredible to see and we are so lucky we got the chance to visit these ancient works of art. One more wonder checked off the list!