Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Look At The Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza

NEWS BANJUL, THE GAMBIA(MB)-There is a saying that when one visit the Arab Republic of Egypt, and fails to make a visit to the Pyramids, his or her trip is not complete.
The Pyramids have become a cite of attraction to not only Western tourists, but even to some Africans visiting the Arab Republic of Egypt for various reasons.
This was why when the group of African journalists, which included this reporter, visited Egypt at the fag end of last year, for the 34th Training Course for Young African journalists, they could not afford to fail to visit the Great Pyramid of Giza, with the kind assistance of the Egyptian Ministry of Media.
The visiting journalists, no wonder met at there a group of western tourists who also came to get a panoramic view of the Pyramids.
But what is the Great Pyramid of Giza?
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also called the Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now Cairo, Egypt, and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that survives substantially intact, Historians have it.
It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for Fourth dynasty Egyptian King (Pharaoh) Khufu(Cheops in Greek) and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC.
The visiting journalists were informed by their tour guides to the Great Pyramid that it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, and unsurpassed until the 160 meter tall spire of Lincoln Cathedral was completed.
Originally the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface, but what is seen today is mainly only the underlying core structure.
Some of the casing stones that once covered the structures could still be seen around the base.
However, the African journalists were informed that "there have been varying scientific and alternative theories regarding the Great Pyramid's construction techniques.
"Most accepted construction theories are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place".
But according to available information about the Great Pyramid of Giza, there are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid.
The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber "are higher up within the pyramid structure''.
Available information further revealed that The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller "satellite" pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles.
The total mass of the great pyramid today is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes, and the first precision measurements of the pyramid were reported to have been done by Egyptologist called Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880-1882, and published in 1885 as Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh. And almost all reports are said to be based on his measurements.
According to historical records, in AD 1300, a massive earthquake loosened many of the outer casing stones of the Great Pyramid, which were then carted away by Bahri Sultan An-Nasir Nasir-ad-Din al-Hasan in 1356 in order to build mosques and fortresses in nearby Cairo (the capital city of Egypt).
The Great Pyramid is also noted to be the only pyramid known to contain both ascending and descending passages.
The original entrance to the Great Pyramid is said to be 55' vertically about ground level and 24' east of the centre line of the pyramid. From the original entrance,the Descending Passage is said to be 3'11" in height and 3'5" in width which goes down at an angle of 26° 31'23" through the masonry of the pyramid and then into the bedrock beneath it.
Some Egyptologists are of the view that the Lower Chamber was intended to be the original burial chamber, but that King Khufu later changed his mind and wanted it to be higher up in the pyramid.
But Egyptologist Bob Brier is said to have the belief that it was an insurance policy in case Khufu died early. That when he was still alive and healthy after about 5 years of construction, the second (Queen's) chamber was begun. Sometime around the fifteenth year this chamber was also abandoned unfinished and the last or King's Chamber was built high up in the center of the pyramid.
Today, tourists enter the Great Pyramid via a forced tunnel said to be dug by the Caliph Al-Ma'mum and his men around 820 AD.
The King's Chamber, according to history, is entirely faced with granite, the blocks of stone being fitted with such precision that it is impossible to insert a piece of paper between them.
"Above the roof, which is formed of nine slabs of stone weighing in total about 400 tons, are five compartments known as Relieving Chambers. The first four, like the King's Chamber, have flat roofs formed by the floor of the chamber above, but the final chamber has a pointed roof.
"Vyse suspected the presence of upper chambers when he found that he could push a long reed through a crack in the ceiling of the first chamber. From lower to upper, the chambers are known as "Davidson Chamber", "Wellington Chamber", "Lady Arbuthnot Chamber" and "Cambell's Chamber". It is believed that the compartments were intended to safeguard the King's Chamber from the possibility of a roof collapsing under the weight of stone above the Chamber.
"As the chambers were not intended to be seen, they were not finished in any way and a few of the stones still retain mason's marks painted on them. One of the stones in Cambell's Chamber bears a mark, apparently the name of a work gang, which incorporates the only reference in the pyramid to Pharaoh Khufu," it was gathered.
According to authors Briar and Hobbs , "all the pyramids were robbed" by the New Kingdom, when the construction of royal tombs in a desert valley, now known as the Valley of the Kings, began.
Joyce Tyldesley was reported to have held that the Great Pyramid itself "is known to have been opened and emptied by the Middle Kingdom", before the Arab caliph Abdullah al-Mamun entered the pyramid around AD 820.
It was therefore an opportune moment for the young African journalists from 15 African countries when they had the pleasure of seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza, thanks to the Egyptian

No comments: