The last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza is still wowing travelers from all over the world well into the 21st century. Though it is no longer the gleaming spectacle it once was, the colossal structure is still powerful enough to humble even the worldliest of visitors.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is an icon both of Egypt today and the Ancient World, but still remains something of an enigma. There are a few evidence-backed facts we do know about the monument, but much of it remains a mystery.
Check out these 10 things you didn’t know about the Great Pyramid of Giza.
10 It Was Once A Different Color
We know the Pyramid of Giza as the color of the desert that surrounds it. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, according to On the Go Tours, all the Pyramids of Giza, including the Great Pyramid, were once white.
Not only were they white, but they sparkled and glimmered due to the limestone they were encased with. This limestone was so polished that the pyramids actually reflected the sun’s rays. It would have been an amazing sight! Over time, the limestone was taken to build other structures.
9 The Chambers Were Robbed For Many Years
It wasn’t just the limestone outside the Great Pyramid that was robbed. Historians believe that humans have looted the treasures of the chambers within the Great Pyramid over the years. Mental Floss points out that evidence reveals that human remains were present in the King’s Chamber around the 9th century CE, but due to theft, the interior was left nearly empty.
What was found inside the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid was the red-granite sarcophagus, or stone coffin, of the Pharaoh Khufu, for whom the structure was built.
8 It Took A Lot Of People To Build
It is still debated as to how the Great Pyramid was built, considering that two million stone blocks had to be transported to the site of the monument. The stone blocks range between two tons and more than fifty tons, so it wouldn’t have been an easy task.
According to historians, it took 100,000 people to construct all of the Pyramids of Giza. There is still no confirmed explanation as to how they were able to transport the stone, but it is clear that many hands had to help with the task.
7 But Those People Probably Weren’t Slaves
The legend goes that slaves built the Pyramids of Giza. But that theory has since been challenged by various historians, who believe that those who constructed the monuments were actually skilled laborers who were paid. The job required the skills of stonemasons, engineers, surveyors, builders, architects, and other craftsmen, and these workers may have been conscripted but they were paid for their effort.
Some Egyptologists believe that there was a permanent crew who worked full-time on the pyramids while the rest of the labor force only worked during the summer months.
6 Historians Don’t Know Exactly How The Stone Was Transported
There have been a number of theories as to how the workers were able to transport such massive amounts of heavy stone in order to construct the Great Pyramid. One of the most popular theories—that is still not backed by any clear evidence—is that there was a system of ramps in place.
At other pyramid sites, there has been evidence to suggest that there were various kinds of ramps which elevated the stone and steered it in order to build the pyramids. Historians also believe that in addition to ramps, the Egyptians used levers to then position the blocks.
5 The Great Pyramid Was Built Around A Granite Coffer
Most people recognize the outside of the Great Pyramid without any difficulty, but the interior is less iconic. Inside the pyramid’s main chamber lies a granite coffer that archeologists believe was made out of a single piece of granite. What’s interesting about this is that the solid piece of granite is huge—far bigger than the narrow passageways of the Great Pyramid would allow.
Considering this, many historians believe that the Great Pyramid was actually built around the coffer rather than bringing the coffer inside once the pyramid was constructed.
4 For Centuries, It Was The Tallest Structure Made By Man
Seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza in life is a breathtaking experience. The iconic landmark stands 481 feet tall, and for many years, it was the tallest structure to exist. It lost its position as the tallest manmade structure in 1311 when the Lincoln Cathedral was completed.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is also the largest of all the tombs built in the ancient world. Inside there were tombs for the wives of Khufu in addition to the Pharaoh himself as well as a mortuary temple, boat pits, a causeway, and a valley temple.
3 The Great Pyramid Is The Last Remaining Wonder Of The Ancient World
One fact that still draws thousands of tourists to the Great Pyramid of Giza is that it is the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World. Unlike the other six Wonders of the Ancient World, the pyramid managed to survive for thousands of years, into the modern age.
While there has been evidence to suggest that some of the other Wonders of the Ancient World actually did exist, historians believe that the others were purely mythological. The Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, for example, are yet to be certified as having actually existed.
2 It Was Built For A Pharaoh Named Khufu
The Great Pyramid wasn’t built for one of the most well-known figures of Ancient Egypt, but instead for a Pharaoh named Khufu. We have limited information about the Pharaoh, whose name was Hellenized as Cheops, but it is thought that he first came to rule in his 20s. There is one known statue of him, but with a height of three inches, it doesn’t have the same grandness as the Pharaoh’s pyramid has!
Khufu was the second Pharaoh of the 4thDynasty, and, according to Mental Floss, was the son of Sneferu and Hetepheres I.
1 The World’s Oldest Intact Ship Was Found In The Pyramid
Many of the treasures within the Great Pyramid may have been looted over the years, but one that remained was the Khufu Ship. The oldest intact ship to ever be discovered, the Khufu Ship is 153 feet long and was found inside an enclosed pit at the foot of the pyramid.
According to Real M of History, the ship was packed with goods that would be of assistance on the journey into the afterlife and was believed to carry the spirit of the Pharaoh after his death. You can check out the ship at the Giza Solar boat museum.