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Giza Pyramid of Khufu


The Great Pyramid of Khufu was called Akhet Khufu - 'The Horizon of Khufu'. It contains about 2,300,000 blocks of stone, each of which is thought to weigh on average 2.5 tons. Its base is 230.33m long, and it rose to a height of 146.59m. The finished pyramid was surrounded by a Turah limestone wall, over 8m high, enclosing a court which was paved in limestone. Access to this court could only be gained via the valley temple, causeway and mortuary temple.

The causeway was 810m long, and its foundations rose an amazing 40m to carry the corridor from the edge of the plateau down to the valley temple. Writings left by Heroditus and the discovery of some carved pieces have led to the belief that the walls of the causeway were covered by fine relief carvings.

Khufu's mortuary temple was demolished down to bedrock over the centuries. It is square and much larger than the small chapels associated with previously built pyramids. What remains is some black basalt pavement of an open court, sockets for the granite pillars of the surrounding colonnade and western recessed bay, and the bedrock cuttings for the outer wall. The walls were made of fine limestone carved in relief. There was an inner sanctuary and storage rooms, but it is not known whether the five statue niches and false door that became standard later was already part of the plan.

Khufu's pyramid has 3 Queen's pyramids built at the front of the pyramid

The 1st pyramid is thought to have been built for Queen Hetepheres, who was the wife of Sneferu and probably the mother of Khufu. Texts in her burial chamber referred to her as 'Daughter of the God' and 'Mother of the King'. The burial chamber was discovered by accident in 1925, in a deep shaft to the north of the pyramid. This shaft was 27m deep and was blocked with stones and other debris - at its bottom was a chamber with an exquisite alabaster sarcophagus and a small sealed alabaster box containing the queen's internal organs. The chamber also contained the disassembled parts of two sitting chairs, a carrying chair, a tube for walking sticks, a headrest and two sets of silver bracelets - all the essential items for the private boudoir of a queen.



The 2nd pyramid might belong to Queen Meritetes - who lived through the reigns of Sneferu, Khufu and and Khafre.

The 3rd pyramid, which is thought to have belonged to Queen Henutsen, is the only one of the three Queen's pyramids which still has its mortuary chapel still intact. This is probably due to the fact that the chapel was converted during the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty into a temple of the goddess Isis - the 'Mistress of the Pyramids', with whom Queen Henutsen came to be identified during this period.

The boat pits on the eastern side of the pyramid could have been symbolic transport mechanisms for the king's ascent to the heavens - westwards with the setting sun and eastwards with the rising sun.

These two rectangular boat pits on the southern side were discovered in 1954 - covered by huge limestone slabs, these pits contained the dismantled remains of two boats. These are thought to be the boats which transported Khufu's body to his pyramid, since it was common practice to bury all the items connected with the royal funeral close to the final resting place of the King. So far one of the boats has been reconstructed - it was found in 1,224 pieces, all of which had been stitched together with rope. The reassembled vessel is 43.3m long and 5.9m wide, and is now housed in its own boat-shaped museum next to the pyramid.

Discovered in 1991, the satellite pyramid does not appear to have been used as a tomb. Several theories have been put forward about its function - it could have been a residence for the king's ka (spirit), it could have housed his viscera, or else it could have had a role in the king's sed (jubilee) festival in the afterlife.

Also built around the pyramid were the "Mastabas" (tombs) of the minor sons of the pharoah and the "Mastabas" of officials and workers related to the funerary complex.

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