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Like in 1001 Arabian Nights, Egypt remains a mystery as it has been for thousands of years. Built during a time when Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilizations in the ancient world, the pyramids are some of the most magnificent man-made structures in history. Their massive scale reflects the unique role that the pharaoh, or king, played in ancient Egyptian society. They fascinated the travelers and conquerors in history and continue to inspire wonder in tourists, archeologists, and mathematicians who visit, explore, measure, and also describe them.
Though pyramids were built from the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the close of the Ptolemaic period in the fourth century A.D., the peak of pyramid building began with the late third dynasty and continued until roughly the sixth (c.2325 B.C.). More than 4000 years later, the Egyptian pyramids still retain much of their majesty, providing a glimpse into the country's rich and glorious past.
Although they are all masterpieces, no pyramids are more celebrated than the Great Pyramids of Giza, located on a plateau on the west bank of the Nile River, on the outskirts of modern-day Cairo. The oldest and largest of the three pyramids at Giza, known as the Great Pyramid, is the only surviving structure out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built for Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops, in Greek resources), Sneferu's successor, and also the second of the eight kings of the fourth dynasty. The pyramid’s base covers over 13 acres and its sides rose at an angle of 51 degrees 52 minutes and were over 755 feet long. It originally stood over 481 feet high; today it's 450 feet high.
Scientists also estimate that its stone blocks average over two tons apiece. Two other major pyramids were built at Giza, for Khufu's son, King Khafre (Chephren), and a successor of Khafre, Menkaure (Mycerinus). The last of the great pyramid builders was Pepy II (2278-2184 B.C.), the second king of the sixth dynasty, who came to power as a young boy and ruled for 94 years. Another building that comes to our mind when we say pyramids is the famous Sphinx, a massive statue of a lion with a human head, carved during the time of Khafre.
To mention what we know from these structures where many mysteries about its construction still remain a secret it is known that most of the stone for the Giza pyramids was quarried on the Giza plateau itself. Some of the limestone casing was brought from Tura, across the Nile, and a few of the rooms are cased with granite from Aswan. Marks of the quarry workers are found on several of the stone blocks giving names of the builders group such as "craftsman-gang".
Part-time crews of laborers probably supplemented the year-round masons and also some other skilled workers. Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone (averaging about 2.5 tons each) had to be cut, transported, and also assembled to build Khufu's Great Pyramid. The Greek historian Herodotus reported in the fifth century B.C. that his Egyptian guides told him 100,000 men were employed for three months a year for twenty years to build the Great Pyramid, but later archaeological evidence suggests that the workforce might have been around 20,000.
Egypt is a country that you can learn while traveling and it is a great chance for us to see the ancient treasures that remained as they were when they were first built. If you would like to learn more about the pyramids' history, and the relation between astronomy and mathematics, visiting Egypt will provide you the best experience. In the meantime, you can listen to stories from local people living around this pyramid and try to find out the magic of the area from them.
So, would you like to go 4500 years before without a time machine?
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