Everyone has admired pictures of the Great Pyramid of Giza from the outside. But what is on the inside - who has wondered what it would be like to be inside the Great Pyramid? Is it true that there's just a maze of tunnels in there that one would be forever lost? There are a lot of myths and legends about the Great Pyramid after all it is one of mankind's most bewildering feats of engineering.
It is true that the Great Pyramid was built to protect against looters. It was also built with an emphasis on its exterior as the interior was designed to be sealed off and never accessed again. The pyramid is a work that has fascinated people throughout the centuries and there are likely to be many things about the Great Pyramid that one doesn't know.
Introduction To The Internal Structure of The Great Pyramid
In internal structure of the Great Pyramid is made up of three main chambers, the Grand Gallery, and various corridors and shafts (it is not possible to go into depth about all of them here).
Originally there was only one entrance into the great pyramid, although today there is another forced passage. It is important to remember that the Great Pyramid was part of a much larger complex of buildings with other small pyramids, a causeway, temples, tombs (including that of Queen Hetepheres I, and other structures.
- Three Main Chambers: The King's, Queen's, and Subterranean Chambers
- Galley: The Grand Gallery
- Passages: Various Corridors and Shafts
A fuller list of the known corridors and chambers are:
- Original Entrance
- Robber's Tunnel: Today Used As The Tourist Entrance
- Descending Passage
- Subterranean Chamber
- Ascending Passage
- Queen's Chamber: Plus its "Air-Shafts"
- Horizontal Passage
- Grand Gallery
- King's Chamber: Plus Its "Air-Shafts"
- Grotto & Well Shaft
The system of passages is better visualized pictorially than described in printed text. There were many defenses against looters including concealed tunnels and blocking stones. Of course, the loots managed to get past them all in the end.
The King's Chamber
The King's Chamber is the upmost of the three main chambers and is faced entirely with hard granite. The only object found in the King's Chamber is the sarcophagus that has been formed out of a block of granite. When the sarcophagus was discovered in the early middle ages, it was already looted.
- Dimensions: 20 x 10 Cubits: 10.5 x 5.2 meters (34.4 x 17.2 feet)
The sarcophagus is too large to fit down the passageways leading into the chamber, so it was likely put there before the roof was built.
Above the King's Chamber are what is referred to as the "Relieving Chambers." It is thought that these chambers were built to safeguard the King's Chamber from the risk of the roof collapsing (that's why they are called the "relieving" chambers). There was no passage to the upper four chambers so a tunnel was dug by early Egyptologists.
- Davison's Chamber
- Wellington's Chamber
- Nelson's Chamber
- Lady Arbuthnot's Chamber
- Campbell's Chamber
The Subterranean Chamber
Also known as the "Pit", the Subterranean Chamber is the lowest of the three main chambers and has been cut out of the bedrock beneath the pyramid. The chamber is around 27 meters or 89 feet beneath the base of the pyramid.
- Dimensions: 16 x 27 Cubits, 8.4 meters x 14.1 meters (27.5 x 46.4 feet)
- Access: Via The Descending Passage
Interestingly the western half of the room was left unfinished. The only access to the chamber is through the Descending Passage. It has been suggested at the Subterranean Chamber was the original planned tomb for Pharaoh Khufu. But during the construction, the plan was changed to the King's chamber higher in the pyramid.
The Queen's Chamber
The Queen's Chamber is reached by the Horizontal Passage although the tunnel was likely once concealed. Despite its name, scholars do not believe this chamber was for the Queen. The chamber is built out of beautifully finished limestone blocks with a gabled ceiling.
One line of thought was that it was a room for the Pharaoh's spiritual soul or Ka. But it is not possible to know and the chamber has been thoroughly plundered.
There's More To Be Discovered
It is likely there is more to be discovered about the interior of the Great Pyramid. In 2017 a large cavity was found above the Grand Galley using muon radiography that they dubbed the Big Void. The length of this area is at least 30 meters or 98 feet.
- Big Void: Another Space Has Been Discovered But Not Accessed, Research Is Continuing
Still, the purpose of the cavity is unknown, and the area remains inaccessible. Research is continuing although planned work by a team from Japan was delayed by the pandemic.