The Great Pyramid of Ancient Egypt

Wonders of the World: About the Pyramid of Khufu


BBC History: Khufu

Khufu lived luxuriously, sparing no expense in entertaining important guests and spoiling them with lavish gifts of gold, precious jewels, and silks. Khufu knew that the wonderfully pleasurable life he was leading would not last forever and that he must prepare for the afterlife with the gods. Since he had proclaimed himself the greatest pharaoh of all time, he was compelled to back up his claim by constructing the greatest pyramid of all time.
The location of this great pyramid was important. It had to be in the Western Desert in a location close to the Land of the Dead, yet in a spot unique to him. He chose the Giza Plateau. It was a perfect location. Limestone, the mineral used for building the blocks, was found in abundance at this site. The firmness of the land provided a perfect foundation for the structure and this location happened to rise high above the landscape, creating a monumental presence for his pyramid.

Construction of such a pyramid was to be a monumental task. He would need thousands of labourers drawn from nearby farmers. Various kinds of stones necessary for the ornamentation of the walls, floors and chambers of the pyramid had to be brought in by boat from quarries hundreds of miles away. The labourers worked tirelessly, happy to be part of this incredible achievement in honour of their pharaoh.
As a result of their work, many farmers stayed on and became skilled craftsmen. It is reasonable to believe that the construction of the Great Pyramid took many years. Khufu died in the year 2528 B.C. at the age of 23, so it is likely that he ordered construction to begin at a young age.
There were over 35,000 labourers working full time in a village-like setting devoted to this project. Even without precise measuring tools, they were able to shape the stones to identical specification with a variance of less than 8 inches between the shortest and longest sides of the stones.
Khufu was mummified, a process lasting 65 days, and lowered into the sarcophagus inside the pyramid. The work of devoted priests and labourers was not yet over as they then bore the responsibility of protecting the tomb and organizing ceremonies to honour the greatest pharaoh of all time.
Vocabulary words: tirelessly
Why did Khufu chose to build his pyramid at the Giza Plateau?
What do you think the Land of the Dead looks like? What do you think Khufu thought it looked like?
Find out (from a book or the internet) why Khufu died when he was 23.

Was Khufu a cruel or a kind ruler?  What are the different opinions?

Interactive Animation: Great Pyramid of Khufu


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