Cheops, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, was king of the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom in the 26th century BC. This was a time when some of the most important advances, developments and settlements occurred along the River Nile and when the awe-inspiring Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed.
Cheops is the Greek translation of ‘Khufu’ and although he is believed to have had a long reign, not much is known about his birth, life or death, but we presume this pyramid to have been built as his tomb.
What is known is that his capital was the ancient city of Memphis in Egypt. The city was originally called Ineb-Hedj which means ‘The White Wall’ and later translated into Greek, which gave it the name of Mennufer meaning ‘the good place’.
The pyramid was impressive even during its construction and was classified as one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built with sheer perfection and the size was overwhelming. The top 30 feet have over time been destroyed, but it is still 450 feet high – the equivalent of a 35-story building.
Calculations reveal that there are at least 2,300,000 blocks of stone in the pyramid of different sizes which weigh, on average, 1.5 tons each. This mammoth project would have been complicated to plan, manage and administer. A hundred thousand slaves were needed for the 20 year construction period. They would have had to lay a minimum of 300 stones per day, which would have been quarried, cut, transported and used according to meticulously engineered plans. The logistics would have included a fleet of ships and a system to feed all the workers. An enormous task!
The Inner Chambers
The Queen’s Chamber was never used and this is possibly because it was too small to house Cheops’ coffin. He was a very wealthy and highly respected man!
There are also questions about the many internal chambers, passages and the shafts that were found in this pyramid that have not been found in any other. Some researchers believe they may be ‘spirit’ or ‘soul shafts’, which falls in line with the religious beliefs of this time in Ancient Egypt. But the question is then asked why no pyramids built after this time contain these shafts. Some Egyptologists believe it was a time of radical religious revolution and that there were many changes in the lives of the Egyptians during the reign of Cheops.
Questions & Answers
But there are still of course many unanswered questions and the ‘answers’ we have so far are merely assumptions based on the evidence at hand. Sadly his tomb was raided over the centuries so we only have the art and hieroglyphics on the internal walls to give any clues about this remarkable leader and the construction of this wonderful pyramid.
From the little we know, he may have been the first person to be mummified. This ancient process of removing the internal organs, using a salt to dry the body and then wrapping it in material and covering it with a tree sap to preserve it continued for centuries afterwards.
How Cheops will be remembered
The Great Pyramid of Giza has stood for over 4,500 years and with the rate of erosion it will last for at least another million years. Cheops has really left his mark on the world and possibly more than any other person on earth.
Will we remember Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln or Nelson Mandela in 4,500 years from now?
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