The pyramids on the Giza Plateau near
There are about 110 pyramids currently known in
How the Egyptians managed the complex organisation of labour and the physical movement of large stone blocks is still a matter for debate. Pyramid construction may have involved ramps being erected around the pyramid. Blocks of stone would have been pulled up on sledges and the ramps dismantled later. It is believed that most of the labour for the construction of the pyramids would have come from farmers who were available during the inundation season when the
The earliest pyramid was the Step Pyramid of king Djoser of the
Underneath Djoser's pyramid was a complex system of corridors with a burial chamber lined with
The first true pyramid (at right) was developed for King Sneferu during the 4th Dynasty of the
The largest pyramid ever built was the Great Pyramid at
It is estimated that the pyramid contains approximately 2,300,000 blocks of stone with an average weight of 2.5 tonnes each and some up to 15 tonnes. Its sides measure 230 metres in length. The structure would have towered about 146.6 metres high, but it is now a little shorter owing to the outer casing having been removed to build many of
One of its most spectacular features is the enormous sloping Grand Gallery. At the Gallery's top is a low corridor which leads into the King's Chamber, the walls of which are made of polished granite. A large granite sarcophagus is open and no burial goods have ever been found.
To the east of the pyramid, some of the smooth basalt paving of the mortuary temple remains and the causeway which led to the river temple is now buried with the valley temple being under modern buildings. Small pyramids for queens are adjacent to the Great Pyramid, as are boat pits.
In 1954, a large cedar boat (pictured at left) was uncovered in one of the pits and then reassembled. It is now on display next to the pyramid. A second boat remains in pieces in another covered pit. The boats may have been provided for the deceased king to travel through the underworld.
The Giza Plateau also is home to two other large pyramids for the subsequent kings, Chephren and Menkaura. As with the Great Pyramid, both of these pyramids have valley temples and mortuary temples connected by causeways. However, next to Chephren's valley temple is the famous 73-metre long Sphinx and its associated temple.
Despite controversy over its age, most Egyptologists believe that the Sphinx was carved from a rocky outcrop at the same time as Chephren's pyramid.
The resources for building enormous pyramids during the rest of the
During the Middle Kingdom, kings again built themselves pyramids, but being largely of mud-brick, they have not survived very well. Elaborate interior designs failed to stop ancient tomb robbers from breaking in and stealing the burial goods.
The time of large pyramids had passed, although small pyramids were used in some
Pyramids were also built south of