The most loved topic of all Egyptologists has undoubtedly been the pyramids. Pyramids happen to be one of the few worldly phenomenon that has intrigued historians, architects, scientists, anthropologists, theologists, designers, sociologists and the layman. Interest in the pyramids is universal. There are sixty-seven, of various sizes, scattered around the city of Cairo alone. The most famous, and largest, are at Giza, where what is believed to be the three tombs of Khufu, Khafre, and Menkure. It stood 480 feet tall when completed and contains twice as much volume as the Empire State Building. Till the 19th century it was the tallest structure ever built. The largest and most elaborate pyramids were built in a 160-year span between 2650 and 2490 B.C.
Pyramids did not stand alone; they were part of a funerary complex. The complex includes a processional causeway that links a funerary temple to the pyramid, solar barques buried on the four sides of the pyramid, and mastabas and smaller pyramids where the family of the king and nobles were buried. Egypt is not the only place in the world having pyramids, they can be found in Australia and Greece, the United States, Spain, Mexico and China. There is a pyramid in China called the White Pyramid that is rumored to be larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza. However Egyptian pyramid complexes were more structured then those found outside Egypt. The quality of the construction of the Egyptian pyramids is such that a razor blade cannot be slid under a stone even after 4500 years.
There are numerous theories on how the pyramids were built. It seems almost impossible that such a feat could have been achieved. The Great Pyramid at Giza is composed of 2.5 million limestone blocks that weigh two to thirteen tons each. It was built during the 23-year reign of Pharaoh Khufu. To complete the Great Pyramid in 23 years, it was necessary to set one block in place every two minutes during a ten hour work day, 365 days a year.
How did the Egyptians move the gigantic blocks up to the heights necessary without the presence of the wheel? What ingenious block transportation methods did they use to accomplish the placements of limestone blocks in assembly line efficiency in order to complete construction during a Pharaoh's reign? The most popular theory is that flat-bottomed, two rail wooden sledges were used to pull the limestone blocks up clay/mud ramps. Long rollers may have been used to help move the sledge. It is also possible that water, oil or Tafla―a clay which when wet, becomes slippery, was used to lubricate wooden planks that sledges slid across on their trek up the ramp. The Pyramid at Giza seems to have used a wrap-around coil ramp. Building pyramids involved tilting the gargantuan blocks slightly inward, so that the weight of the blocks helped lock them into the structure. This made them resistant to earthquakes and other natural calamities.
One theory centers around rollers that were used to carry the massive blocks. The modified sledge and rollers would allow the limestone blocks to be towed up the ramp. The modified sledge, which would allow the rollers to roll back into place down the ramp incline to various roller stops. But the Egyptians innate desire to use the most precise method would have prevented them from using this process because of the high probability of something going wrong. Another possibility involves the use of pulleys to hoist the blocks up the ramps and fulcrums to manipulate the blocks into place. Pulleys were used on ships at the time.
There are a million discrepancies that are found in every pyramid building theory, some of the pyramids indicate that the Egyptians had a precise understanding of the theory of Pi. But at that point in time, the Egyptians could not have arrived at these calculations mathematically. There is also a theory that the pyramids are aligned with certain astronomical objects.
There are two basic styles of pyramids: Step pyramid and True pyramid. The step pyramid consists of several steps and underground galleries surround the pyramid. But since the True pyramid was aesthetically more pleasing it was used in the majority of the cases.
Many questions remain about pyramids; including persistent speculation that the pyramids of Egypt were built by aliens or an ancient, advanced race. However, no proofs to satisfy these assumptions have ever been found.