If you ever looked at google earth you know that the pyramids are almost swallowed by Gizeh. You drive through the streets and suddenly you glimpse at one of the pyramids in the lighting between two buildings. Feels a bit like a hunt after the sighting of Eiffel tower on the busy streets of Paris. Very surreal. Then you turn a corner and there they are. So, you think, ok, they are big, very impressive. And then you try to get from one pyramid to the next one and realize, you have to drive. They are not just big, they are massive! Much bigger than I ever imagined. And still I think I could only appreciate their size by realizing the huge distance between them.
I won’t write here about their history as there are many theories. Many tried to define their age, but the exactness stays, at least from what I gather, elusive. The Egyptian government is very protective of its treasures and doesn’t want too many scientists poking around the ancient ruins. People have come up with some less invasive ideas on how to explore them. They have tested cosmic rays going through them, they have sent miniature robots to get into all the cracks.
We know for sure they were not built by slaves. We don’t know exactly how they were built, every single theory falls apart when you try to test it in a practical simulation.
We don’t know how many rooms or chambers they contain. Archaeologists are quite certain there are more of them still hidden away. Were they really graves for Pharaohs? Well as far as I know, we haven’t found a sarcophagus with a mummy in any of the pyramids so far. Current understanding is that they were robbed long time ago, but we don’t know for sure.
Why are they aligned the way they are? Is it really the Orion’s Belt or the architects were adapting to the geological reality at the time? Is the Sphinx older or younger? And are the tunnels underneath it just a hoax or is there some truth there to be discovered?
One of my favourite pyramid construction theories is actually quite simple and I would love for it to be true. Apparently, some of the stones that the pyramids were built from have an odd consistency. There are air bubbles and some hair in it. Those are the main characteristics of cement. Imagine if the segments were poured into place! So simple and it would explain so many things! But again, this is just a crazy theory I read somewhere years ago. It was probably in one of Erich von Däniken’s books. He also popularized the idea that the ancient Egyptians had some sort of artificial light. One of the hieroglyphs looks very much like a bulb.
All this craziness aside, pyramids are a classic site and they definitely deserve all the rave. One of my favourite things was getting inside one of them. You can take the Grand Gallery right up to the King’s Chamber. It’s really hot inside. And you also realize that the ceiling above you holds tons of granite blocks and it’s only thanks to the genius of ancient architects that it doesn’t collapse on your head.
One surprise for me was that as the pyramids turned out to be much bigger than I thought, the sphinx was that much smaller. And because they have been excavating around him, he looks like he is sticking out of a ditch. But don’t get me wrong, he still makes a long-lasting impression.
More images here.