Ancient authors agreed that the third king of the 4th Dynasty was "Suphis, the builder of the Great Pyramid, otherwise known as Cheops (Greek) or Khufu (Egyptian). Khufu composed the Sacred Books, which the Egyptians hold in high esteem.

Only a tiny statue 3 inches high of Khufu seated on a throne remains as a record of this king and is currently in the Egyptian Museum

There does not appear to be a record of an intervening King between him and his father Snefru although records show him 3rd in line to the throne. Like his father, Khufu probably reigned for 23 or 24 years, and he also seems to have had military expeditions to the Sinai peninsula. Rock inscriptions in the Wadi Maghara record the presence of his troops, no doubt for the purpose of keeping the Bedouin in check and exploiting the turquoise deposits there. A faint inscription on a boulder on Elephantine Island in Aswan indicates the King had interests in that region quarrying the fine red granite.

Khufu's greatest achievement was the creation of the Great Pyramid of Giza a monument recognized as the first of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one now standing.

The surface of the Pyramid covers 13 acres. It is known that there is a huge natural rock of unknown dimensions within the mass of the pyramid. Originally 481 ft high now it is now only 451 ft having lost 30 ft from the top. It was the tallest man-made building in the world until the 19th century. A record proudly held by an Egyptian architect for 4,500 years. The four sides are orientated to the four cardinal points with only the smallest of error. The length of the sides is 755 ft,with only 8in difference between the longest and the shortest.

The number of blocks used to build the Pyramid is somewhere in the region of 2,300,000 blocks each weighing an average of 2.5 tons with a maximum of 15 tons
Herodotus believed that Khufu put his citizens into slavery and hard labor to build the Pyramid as this was standard around the world at that time. However, today evidence proves that the great pyramid was built by paid laborers who worked of their own free will and were paid for their work.
To this day it is still not known how the Great Pyramid was built. Records kept by the priests record that it took 10 years to build the causeway from the valley temple to the mortuary temple and 20 years to build the pyramid itself with the whole cost being close to 100 million at today’s prices.
Theories about how it was built vary from the use of a long ramp stretching out into the desert continually lengthened and heightened as the pyramid rose higher, to a ramp that wound around the pyramid face following each course upwards as it was built. Both are impractical. Herodotus said the structure was built as a series of terraces, raising blocks on all four sides at the same time with the use of tools made of timber. This method was tested by the late Peter Hodges, a master builder, using short lengths of timber with a metal-shod foot, and it is appeared to be more practical than the other theories.

The internal layout indicates there were at least two changes during construction. Initially it was determined that the burial chamber would be deep beneath the surface of the plateau. This was changed to incorporate a small chamber, now unfinished and known in error as the Queen's Chamber and 50 ft above the plateau. The final construction incorporated the Grand Gallery, 28 ft high and topped by a corbeled roof, leading upwards to a horizontal passage that enters the King's Chamber at the heart of the pyramid. A large granite sarcophagus, cut from a single block of Aswan granite was placed in the chamber. This must have been placed before the chamber was roofed because it is about an inch too wide for the Corridor.

The exterior of the pyramid was encased in shining white lime-stone, placed from the top down. The site was robbed during the building of medieval Cairo in the middle ages. The limestone has all gone from the Pyramid and only the black basalt floor remains of the Mortuary Temple and the Valley T emple disappeared under the Arab village, although parts of it were seen in 1991 when a new sewage system was laid.

Mainly on the west side of the Pyramid were located some tombs of courtiers who hoped to serve their King in death as they had in life. There are 3 small tombs on east side for the queens of Khufu. Two great discoveries relating to Khufu were found. In 1925 the tomb of his mother, Queen Hetepheres was found on the east side of the Pyramid and the second was an intact wooden ship discovered in 1954 close to the south face.

During clearance work in May 1954, Kamal el-Mallakh found a series of 41 large blocking stones, each weighing an average 18 tons. The pit beneath these stones revealed a long ship of cedar wood. Too long for the pit the ship had been carefully dismantled into 650 parts comprising 1224 pieces. After many years of restoration by Hag Ahmed Youssef Moustafa, in March 1982 the ship was presented in a specially designed museum covering the pit where the boat had lain for 4500 years. The ship or Bark as they were called was built to sail the King into the afterlife.

A second sealed pit with another bark has been discovered near the first and will be assembled in due course.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Avril Betts, I have over 25 years experience in all aspects of Travel and Tourism. I hold a CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator). Along with my partner Khaled Azzam we own A-Z Tours and Action Travel in North America along with Travelocity Travel Egypt in Cairo, Egypt.

I have co-chaired Atlantic Canada Showcase an International Travel Trade Show, managed 450 volunteers for the Tall Ships Visit in July 2000, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. In 1996 I hosted the president’s wives luncheon for the G7 conference. In 1988 I founded the Country Inn Association in Nova Scotia.

As an experienced speaker I have presented seminars for many years on subjects ranging from Marketing and Sales and Life Skills to Tourism, Travel and Real Estate, and operating an online Travel business.

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