The Pyramids of Egypt
The Giza Pyramids were built by Pharaohs Cheops (Khufu or Kheops), Chephren and Menkaure on the west bank of the Egyptian Nile near the ancient capital of Memphis. These giant structures stand as the largest dressed stone buildings in the world today. The largest, built by Cheops, is 479 feet (about 146 meters) tall and covers an area of thirteen acres (5.3 hectare). Surrounded by the ever-growing suburbs of Cairo on one side and the seemingly endless Sahara on the other, the Pyramids look out on our modern world with a mute question:
How could men of 4500 years ago build so grandly, so precisely, when conventional archeology claims they had only recently been simple herders and farmers?
In all their attempts to explain away these massive stone structures, the archaeologists fall far short of plausibility. The Pyramids are simply too large, too well engineered to have been built at the beginnings of civilization.
Yet There They Stand.
The Pyramids at Giza,
Photograph by Francis Frith, 1862
To visit the Giza Pyramids today one must survive a gauntlet of merchants, camel renters and guides, each with their agreed-on territory which you must cross. After paying the entrance fee you share the narrow spaces inside with an endless stream of chattering tourists. Whether you regard the Pyramid as a tomb, a temple, or something else, there is precious little silence in which to take in the enormity of the place.
This website offers a tour of the most important Pyramids of Ancient Egypt, featuring descriptions by both modern and 19th century authors and a number of beautiful 19th century engravings. We point out some anomalies and questions along the way, but the intent is to give the feel of the place. The final page (you can skip to it HERE) explains why the Egyptian Pyramids defy the conventional view of history and must eventually force a re-appraisal of the origin of human civilization.
Scenes and Impressions in Egypt
by Moyle Sherer
Published in 1824.
Adapted for AscendingPassage.com, 2006.
From the moment that you leave Giza (Ghizeh or Gisa), until you reach the Pyramids they
seem continually near to you - you would think that you had but a narrow
field to cross to reach their base - yet you have four miles to ride.
certainly have an awesome look; everlasting as it were, compared to any
other structure which you have either seen, known to exist or can
imagine. But this does not arise, perhaps, so much from their apparent
size, as from your knowledge of what that size really is and also from the
sublime unity of design, the solidity of construction, and the severe
simplicity of their once sacred form.
He who has stood on
the summit of this most ancient, and yet most mighty monument of
power and pride ever raised by man; he who has looked out and round to the
far horizon, where Libya and Arabia lie silent; has seen, at his
feet, the land of Egypt dividing the dark solitudes with a
narrow vale, beautiful and green, the enameled setting of one
solitary shining river. The visitor receives impressions which he can never
convey, for he cannot define them to himself.
Let us come
down, let us leave this spot. Some one of our poets has placed on this
mighty pedestal that skeleton form with scythe and hourglass. Time
sits in triumph on this empty tomb, a fitting throne!.
The Entrance to Cheops' Pyramid,
Engraving by Vivant Denon, 1808
Today this entrance is closed,
the public is admitted via a forced tunnel some distance to the left.
passed into the Great Pyramid's dark chambers, long, gloomy passages; above, around,
all is vast masses of stone. The Arabs crowded on us noisily, and their
torches blazed and threw a gloss on their bronzed skins.
rested awhile near the empty and damaged sarcophagus in the King's Chamber, then clambered up
a crude ladder and crawled through a low passage to another low dark chamber known as Davidson's.
Afterwards we went down the well, an irregular hole cut into the body of the Pyramid, beginning near the passage to the Queen's chamber. The total
descent from the mouth of the well is 155 feet (47 meters); two of the portions are
perpendicular, while the third has a very rapid inclination.
With an Arab lighting you, and muttering incantations to drive the demons
from him, you let yourself down this tunnel, pressing your back against
the side, stretching out your hands to steady yourself, and feeling
with your dangling foot for the narrow, small, worn niches that scarce
give a resting place to the ball of your toe.
At length you reach the
bottom, and, after looking about you, and pausing awhile in the gloomy
depth, you make your way up a very long passage to the entrance. You catch the light of
day, and go gladly forth, tired, dusty, dirty; faces covered with
perspiration from the heat, and blackened by the smoke of torches. We
looked as I have seen men look in battle.
Interior of the Great Pyramid. (A.) The Ascending Passage. (B.) The Grand Gallery. (C.) The Queen's Chamber.
(D.) The King's Chamber. (The relieving chambers are above it, the lower of which is called Davidson's
for the man who discovered it.) (E.) The Descending Passage. (F.) The Well, a tunnel dug between
the ascending and descending passages. The upper third is lined with dressed stone,
smaller than that used elsewhere in the Pyramid,
the lower portion is roughly cut through the native rock. (G.) The Pit.
Engraving by Prisse d'Avennes, 1878.
We returned from our day's ride in silent delight.
They are the tombs of Cheops and Chephren, says the Grecian. They are
the tombs of Seth and Enoch, says the imaginative Arab. An
English traveler with a mind warmed by the desert sun, and misled by his heart,
tells you that the Great Pyramid contains the ashes
of the Patriarch Joseph.
It is all this
which constitutes the very charm of a visit to these mute ancient monuments.
You smile, and your smile is followed and reproved by a sigh. One thing
you know: that the king, and the philosopher, and the poet
of the times of old, men who mark fields as they pass with their own
mighty names, have certainly been here. Alexander spurred his horse to its base, and Pythagoras, with naked foot, perhaps stood upon its summit.
written by Moyle Sherer, 1824.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops (Left)
and the Pyramid of Chephren (Right)
From La Description de l'Egypte 1809 - 1822
The Pyramids of Egypt
an exploration of the dawn of civilization
Map of the Giza Necropolis
For ease of use, this map appears
on each page devoted to Giza.
by Prisse de l'Avennes, 1878.
Ancient Egypt's Age of the Pyramids
Please click the chapters:
Home Page (You are here)
Climbing the Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid of Cheops
The Second Greatest Pyramid - Chephren
The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Great Sphinx
More About Giza
The Pyramids at Saqqara
The Pyramids of Sneferu
The Greatest Mystery of All.
The Eye of Horus