The Pyramids of Egypt

Seven facts about one of the oldest seven wonders of the world

By Google Arts & Culture

LIFE Photo Collection

1. A World Wonder

The Great Pyramids of Giza are one of the oldest seven wonders of the world, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and an iconic symbol of Egypt.  

Stela of Harsiese Inscribed with BD 15 (Late Period, Dynasty 26, ca. 664-525 BC) by UnknownOriental Institute Museum

2. Royal Tombs

Built as tombs for Pharaohs, to facilitate their journey to the afterlife and carry them through to eternity.  

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3. Surviving for almost 5 millennia

They were built around 4,500 years ago during the Old Kingdom, west of the Nile river outside the ancient city of Memphis.  

Egypt (1940-07) by Margaret Bourke-WhiteLIFE Photo Collection

4. The Tallest for Longest

The oldest and largest of the famous three is built by the Pharaoh Khufu. It is a monumental feat of technical construction skills that were unsurpassed in height for thousands of years. Its original height stood at 147 meters, followed by Khufu’s son Khafre Pyramid, and the third by Pharaoh Menkaure’s is the smallest of the three.  

5. 20 years to build one

It took around 20 years to build the great pyramid alone.     

Limestone block from the pyramid of KhufuBritish Museum

Using around 2.3 million stone blocks that weighed 2.5 to 15 tons in average. 

The Pyramids of Giza from the Southwest (1858) by Francis FrithThe J. Paul Getty Museum

6. An Outer Casing

The yellowish limestone core blocks are what remains today. The pyramids used to be covered with outer casings of smooth white limestone which are almost completely gone now, except for what can be seen on the peak of the Khafre pyramid. 

   

Arc Reco Seven Wonders 2 Pharos Of Alexandria Pyramids Temple Diana Zeus OlympusLIFE Photo Collection

7. Thousands of Skilled Labour

The pyramids were built by thousands of skilled workers and seasonal labourers who resided at a village on site. 

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