Believe it or not, there were tourist guide books in ancient days just like there are now. Thousands of years ago, someone got the great idea of naming the 7 wonders of the world for Hellenic tourists who were fortunate enough to be able to travel and visit exotic and mysterious locales around the Mediterranean Sea.
Six of the original 7 wonders of the world have disappeared or been greatly damaged due to the toll that time has taken. However, the most ancient of them all still remains largely intact and stands as a testimony to the power and capabilities of a very old civilization.
History of the Great Pyramid of Giza
Located in Egypt, scholars believe that the Great Pyramid, as well as two others located nearby, were completed in 2560 BC. They are believed to be constructed as a memorial for the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty, although not much is known about his reign.
The Greek historian Heraclitus accused the pharaoh of being a tyrant and of enslaving his people to build the monumental structure. Modern scholars see his reign differently. Evidence suggests that he was interested in trade and helped his country develop the technology to work copper and other metals. Fragments have been found that suggest he traded these metal products for lumber from the Biblically mentioned Great Cedars of Lebanon. It is thought that trees were used during the construction of the Great Pyramid.
Construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza
The Great Pyramid at Giza won its title as one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world for a good reason. It was the tallest man-made construction of its time. Not only that, but it remained the tallest building ever built for more than 3800 years!
No one really understands how the pyramid was built. More than 2 million blocks were used when it was built and each one of those blocks weighed an average of 2.5 to 15 tons a piece. In order to get an idea of how big those blocks really were, think about how much the average elephant weighs. Adult male elephant clock in around six tons a piece. This means that workers somehow were able to raise blocks that could weigh more than two full grown African elephants.
There are three burial chambers in the Great Pyramid. The king’s chamber was protected by an enormously heavy sliding granite door. Shafts were built that reached from the chamber to the upper reaches of the pyramid. It is thought that these shafts provided a portal to let the Pharaoh’s soul exit the chamber and rise up to the stars.
Most of the blocks were made of limestone. They came from a limestone quarry located on the banks of a river that was nearby the construction site. However, those enormous sliding granite doors have a very different history. Weighing between 25 and 80 tons, they were transported 500 miles to Giza. Without the power of steam, coal, or gas-powered engines, no one has any idea how the ancient Egyptians accomplished this feat.
The size of the crew that built was thought to number in the 100,000. Workers were divided into groups of 20,000 and labored under the direction of very skilled workers. Feeding and housing that many people took a great deal of organization. Special members of the government made arrangements to have food and other essential delivered throughout the twenty years of its construction.
Most people who visit the Great Pyramid of Giza are overpowered by the sheer size of its construction. In photographs, we can see how small people look when they stand next to it. However, visiting it in person really brings home the extent of the job.
While we may never understand much about this wonder of the ancient world, it still stands as an incredible accomplishment today.