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The Construction of King Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza

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Published on:
05/14/2018

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Construction 
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Architectural projects 
Egyptian engineering 
Egyptians 
Foundations 
Khafra 
Khufu 
Maloney Construction 
Mark Lehner 
Pyramid at Giza 

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Since at least the time of the ancient Greeks, there has been considerable debate about exactly how the Egyptians constructed King Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza.

At Maloney Construction, we build foundations and are known for our quality and thorough work. We're happy to be sharing our series of blogs about great foundations and notable edifices in history and how they have contributed to other foundations over the centuries. 

Few texts concerning Egyptian engineering methods have survived the centuries, and in recent years experimental archaeology has been the main means for discovering the methods used for building King Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza. Despite this, there are still many questions concerning the quarrying, dressing and transportation of the stone building blocks, let alone the methods by which they were placed meticulously in position. And there are further questions still about how the gigantic edifice was erected on a totally horizontal base, and aligned precisely with the stars.

Between 1880 and 1882, Flinders Petrie, the first truly scientific archaeologist to work in Egypt, undertook some careful survey work on the Giza plateau. This was the site of the pyramid complexes of the rulers Khufu, Khafra and ë - all of whom lived in the Fourth Dynasty.

The results of Petrie's work suggested to him that the Egyptians had leveled the area intended for the Great Pyramid by cutting a grid of shallow trenches into the bedrock, flooding them with water, and reducing the intervening 'islands' of stone to the necessary height.

After this was suggested, for most of the next century, there was surprisingly little archaeological work on the pyramids at Giza, but in the 1980s the American Egyptologist Mark Lehner began to produce a meticulous new map of the plateau, incorporating the various holes and trenches cut into the rock around the pyramids. On the basis of this project, Lehner argued that the Egyptians had in fact not leveled the whole area intended for the pyramids, but had simply ensured that the narrow perimeter strips around the edges of the pyramid were as perfectly horizontal as possible.

Egyptian architects, surveyors and builders are known to have used two specialized surveying tools, the merkhet (the 'instrument of knowing', similar to an astrolabe) and the bay (a sighting tool probably made from the central rib of a palm leaf). These allowed construction workers to lay out straight lines and right-angles, and also to orient the sides and corners of structures, in accordance with astronomical alignments.

It is clear that the Egyptians were using their knowledge of the stars to assist them in their architectural projects from the beginning of the pharaonic period (3100-332 BC), since the ceremony of pedj shes ('stretching the cord'), reliant on astronomical knowledge, is first attested on a granite block of the reign of the Second-Dynasty King Khasekhemwy (2650 BC).

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Sources: Wikipedia and Yahoo

 

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