Some Other Sites at Giza
The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx- if you read the popular tourist guides or take the popular tours that is all you likely will see of Giza. Indeed much of the mystery and secrets of the place can only be appreciated by those who have spent considerable time studying archaeology, be it conventional (the location of the important Old Kingdom tombs) or unconventional (weathering patterns of the Sphinx enclosure, exotic stone lathe work).
The Pyramids of Giza
by Johann Frey
To upset the monopoly of the two "Greats" here are a few thought provoking images, kind of a random walk around Giza.
A small quarry north of Chephren's Pyramid
by E.J. Andrews, 1842.
This old engraving poses several questions. It shows the area where the hillside was excavated near Chephren's Pyramid, the stone blocks that were removed were presumably used in that construction. The area seems to be as the builders left it, the raw stone showing the marks of processing that would be removed in the final finishing. If this engraving is accurate, and since it was made as part of a scientific survey of the Pyramids the assumption is that it is, the spaces between the stones are in the neighborhood of 10 inches (25 cm). It is thought that the Egyptians cut stone with saws similar to those used in woodcutting, a man on each end. Logically there would be a single cut between stones, with a width of something like 1/4 inch (1/2 cm). And why did they cut so deeply into the stone that was not to be removed?
But the greatest mystery is in the foreground - the cuts simply end, giving no clearance for the workmen to use their saw.
This quarry, again if the engraving is accurate, implies that we do not know how the Egyptians quarried their stone blocks.
The Gateway in the Southern Dike.
by E.J. Andrews, 1842
The recently explored village of the Pyramid craftsmen has received a lot of attention in the conventional Egyptology media. These interesting discoveries document that the men who built the Pyramids were respected artisans with comfortable homes located South of the complex. The above gate, now called the "Wall of the Crow", has been pictured in these stories, giving the impression that it is a recent discovery. This 1842 engraving shows that it was known at that time.
Little information on this structure is available. The artist calls it the "bridge in the southern dike", implying that it is part of a long wall, perhaps at one time enclosing the entire group of Pyramids and smaller tombs. It has been found to be 33 feet (10 meters) high and 39 feet (12 meters) thick. If it is a wall it certainly is an impressive one. But that should not surprise us by now.
There are the remains of a causeway built of large limestone blocks running north-east from the plateau. The existing remains go down to about half the height of the plateau.
Piles of discarded stone scraps 100 yards (meters) long are found on the North and South slopes of the plateau. The total volume is a little less than 1/2 of that of the Great Pyramid. This shows a low percentage of wastage if these represent the scraps from all the Pyramids of Giza.
A substantial amount of black diorite stone chips were found in one of the scrap piles. Since Diorite is not used in the known portions of the Pyramids, this find made Plazzi Smyth speculate that undiscovered chambers were constructed of that material. Diorite is very hard and difficult to work, the Egyptians used it for statues and hieroglyphs. It would be expected that such finely detailed work would not be done at a construction site, so the source of the diorite chips is not known.
The unopened tomb of Cheops' mother, Hetepheres, was found intact in 1925 in a 85 foot (25 meter) vertical shaft at Giza East of Cheops' Pyramid, just North of the so called "Queens' Pyramids", with no structure above it. This discovery is the source of most Old Kingdom royal grave goods now known, yet her sarcophagus was empty.
There are a number of small Pyramids at Giza, the larger are three to the East of Cheops' Pyramid and three to the South of Menkaure's. The above are cut away views of those beside Cheops. The function of these Pyramids is uncertain. Some appear to have been step-pyramids, but their small size appears to have attracted stone scavengers and most are severely damaged.
Perhaps, as is often supposed, they were the tombs of Queens. All have chambers inside as if to house burials. But Cheops and Menkaure each have three and Chephren has only a very small one which makes that explanation less likely. (Imagine what Chephren would have to endure after telling his Queen that she only gets a tiny Pyramid!!) If the Pyramids are seen as energy devices, amplifying the flow of cosmic energy from the dead Pharaoh/god, perhaps the small Pyramids located in rows at the East and South of the complex serve as some kind of buffers or stabilizers.
The Small Pyramids South of Menkaure's Pyramid.
by E.J. Andrews, 1842
Cut away views of the small Pyramids South of Menkaure's Pyramid.
Casing stones on the North face of Cheops' Pyramid
engraving by E.J. Andrews, 1842.
Only a few of the original fine limestone casing stones remain of what once covered the Great Pyramid. The story is that an earthquake loosened some of them and allowed them to easily be gathered and transported for building projects in Cairo, in particular the Mosque of Sultan Hassan. The Mosque is a beautiful building, but one would wish that the Sultan had found another source for his stone. Other Pyramids have various small portions of their casing remaining, the Bent Pyramid has most of it.
Those stones allow us to imagine what the finished Pyramids looked like, their angles, the size of their casing, and the precision of their construction (there is only a paper-thin crack between them). We can extrapolate most of the building from those few stones.
If we had the completed structure it would be even more beautiful and powerful than what we have today.....
And even more a reminder that our civilization is not as advanced as we often like to think it is.
The Pyramids of Giza
For Beautiful Jewelry of Nepal and Tibet
Map of Gisa and the Pyramids,
constructed without benefit of aerial photography
by Prisse de l'Avennes, 1878.
a fresh look at
Ancient Egypt's Age of the Pyramids
Please click the chapters:
Climbing the Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid of Cheops
The Second Greatest Pyramid - Chephren
The Pyramid of Menkaure
The Great Sphinx
More About Giza (you are here)
The Pyramids at Saqqara
The Pyramids of Sneferu
The Greatest Mystery of All.
For many more pictures, stories and secrets
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