The Great Pyramid is the only standing monument of the Wonders of the Ancient World, so it’s no surprise that the Pyramids of Giza are a bucket list destination for many travelers.
These massive structures offer modern-day visitors a peek into a powerful historical dynasty whose building techniques continue to puzzle historians to this day.
Before planning a trip, learn more about the history and mysteries of the Pyramids of Giza and why they’re well-worth the visit.
What are the Pyramids of Giza?
The Pyramids of Giza are tombs built for three of Egypt’s pharaohs. The ancient Egyptians believed that when pharaohs died, they would move on to the afterlife as gods.
These pharaohs prepared for the afterlife by ordering the building of enormous pyramid tombs for themselves, where they could store all the items they’d need in the next world.
The construction of the first and largest pyramid, the Pyramid of Khufu (also known as the Great Pyramid), began around 2550 BCE for Pharaoh Khufu.
Thirty years later, Khufu’s son ordered the construction of his own tomb, the Pyramid of Khafre. The Sphinx – believed to be modeled after Khufu’s son – was built to watch over his tomb.
The last of the Giza Pyramids, known as the Pyramid of Menkaure, was built around 2490 BCE by Khafre’s son and is considerably smaller than the first two pyramids.
These three pyramids, along with the Sphinx and several other pyramids and tombs make up what is known as the Giza Pyramid Complex.
How were the Pyramids built?
The engineering behind the Pyramids of Giza is so impressive that scientists and historians are uncertain exactly how they were built.
However, over the past several decades, archaeologists have made numerous discoveries that have helped them further understand the construction of the Pyramids.
Researchers agree that it took anywhere between 10,000–20,000 workers over twenty or so years to construct the three pyramids.
Old history books claim that the pyramids were built by slaves, but later discoveries concluded that the majority, if not all, workers were native Egyptian farmers.
These workers lived in a temporary town that was built near the Menkaure Pyramid.
Egyptians used a variety of tools and materials to construct the Pyramids. Stones used in the construction of both Khufu and Menkaure came from nearby quarries.
To move these stones over land and onto the pyramids themselves, workers dragged sleds across wet sand and hauled materials up using a series of ramps.
How these ramps were designed remains unknown; this is just one of many mysteries surrounding the construction of the Pyramids of Giza.