As one of the most mysterious wonders of the world and centuries of research, we still don't know how exactly the pyramids were built. Archaeologists have narrowed down some of the techniques used to build the pyramids, but every day uncovers a new mystery about these gigantic burial sites.
We barely understand the tunnels in the pyramids, but what other secrets lay beneath the stones? Keep reading to learn some of the incredible discoveries uncovered at the ancient pyramids of Giza – the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that survived.
Agreed Upon That The Largest Pyramid Was Built Over Two Decades By 20,000 People
For centuries, the Great Pyramid, which was thought to be built around 2550 BC by Pharaoh Khufu, was the largest structure in the world. Our historical findings teach us that Egyptians used only wooden implements along with ropes and pulleys.
This wasn't easy. In fact, it's so astounding scientists aren't even sure how it could be possible. It's estimated that 20,000 workers built the Great Pyramid over a period of 20 years.
Built Before The Invention Of The Wheel
Scientists believe the pyramids were built with huge granite and limestone blocks that were dragged up to 500 miles. Some of them came from the Nile. That's pretty far considering these stones weighed 2.5 to 15 tons. The average car is just over two tons.
So, how does one drag a stone the weight of a car over sand and across 500 miles? Well, certainly not with a wheel. By the time ancient Egypt picked up breaking technology that was the wheel, the pyramids were ancient. Oh yea, they also didn't have steel or iron -- just wood and stone.
The Great Pyramid Actually Has Eight Sides – Not Four
Most of us think of the Great Pyramid as a typical four-sided pyramid. It certainly looks that way from the ground, but hop on a plane and your perspective may shift. The Great Pyramid of Giza has eight sides, and it's only visible from an aerial view. Some people believe this was a way to keep the casing stones from shifting.
Others think erosion created the eight sides and that the pyramid truly is supposed to have just four. Either way, this indent is impressively precise – it's indented by one degree of a half degree. Could the wind really have made that?
20 Ton Doors You Could Move With A Single Push
Not many of us could push open a 20-ton door, but the ancient pyramids of Giza were so perfectly balanced that you actually would have been able to if you were stuck inside. Some pyramids were equipped with these massive doors, which were completely hidden from the outside.
From the inside, you could push them open with minimal force – even a single hand. These doors were only discovered once the Great Pyramid was first being explored, and no one knows how the ancient Egyptians would have been able to cut, place and balance these doors so precisely that they'd actually work.
Created By A Civilization Older And More Advanced Than The Egyptians
Despite the belief that the Egyptians created the pyramids with wood and ropes, scientists haven't been able to recreate exactly how the pyramids were made. According to what we know about history, the Egyptians simply didn't have tools that could create something so large and precise. In fact, scientists attempted to recreate the pyramids in small-scale models but failed every time.
The truth is that the Great Pyramid was made from 2.3 million stone blocks that each weight 2.5 to 15 tons. No type of wood could withstand the weight of the stones, and the workers would have had to lay down a block every 2.5 minutes for the Pyramid to have been built in 20 years as originally thought. For this reason, some scientists believe that the Pyramids actually predate the Egyptians and were created by a much more advanced society.
Evidence Of Drills Strong Enough To Penetrate Granite Were Found In Khufu's Sarcophagus
Khufu, who allegedly created the Great Pyramid, had a pretty eyebrow-raising coffin. It basically baffled scientists when it was discovered. The sarcophagus weighed about 3.75 tons – too large and heavy to have been brought into the pyramid after it was built. It had to have been placed there beforehand.
Then there's the whole thing about it being carved entirely from a solid piece of granite. If you don't know, granite is pretty tough and the sarcophagus has holes in it that look like they were drilled into the stone. What primitive drill would have been strong enough to cut into granite? Certainly, a wooden pickax would've failed.
There's A Labyrinth Beneath The Pyramids That Could Be Greater Than We Think
The Pyramids are equipped with an intricate tunnel system that's carved from limestone bedrock. It's in these tunnels that the most unbelievable discoveries are made. Man still hasn't scaled every corner of the twisting labyrinths – and even so, when a discovery is made, scientists are often bewildered.
Theorists believe mainstream scholars and scientists are hiding an underworld of lost catacombs beneath the pyramids. We have evidence of labyrinths beneath the Great Pyramid, but some people believe there's a whole lot more— about 55 miles south of Cairo underneath the city of Hawara. This is alluded to in various ancient texts and described by authors like Herodotus and Strabo.
There's A Giant, Mysterious Hidden Chamber Inside The Great Pyramid – But No One Knows Why
Recently, scientists discovered a brand new chamber in the Great Pyramid. To do this, they used cosmic-ray imaging, which recorded the behavior of subatomic particles that were shot into the rock. It's almost like an X-Ray, but it can penetrate much deeper. Unfortunately, the images are rather low-resolution, so scientists who found the chamber can't tell if it's a single chamber or a series of different rooms.
Either way, it's pretty mysterious and no one knows exactly what the chamber would have been for. It's commonly accepted that cavities were built into the pyramids to relieve stress on the stone and prevent them from collapsing, but many of these chambers also held an alternative purpose.
Scientists Believe The Hidden Chamber Is Capable of Creating Pocker Of Higher Energy
For centuries, many have speculated that the ancient Egyptian pyramids hold a higher energy. Now, scientists believe they may have some clues. After discovering the hidden chamber within the Great Pyramid, scientists conducted a study that found that the pyramid concentrates electromagnetic energy in its internal rooms.
Furthermore, they have discovered that the 481-foot building concentrates this electromagnetic energy in its hidden chambers. The higher energy has been found in the rooms that contain the remains of Pharoah Khufu and his wife as well as another chamber that was previously hidden.
King Tut's Tomb Was Discovered in 1922
King Tut is arguably the most famous of all Egypt's pharaohs. This is largely thanks to his elaborate tomb, which British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered in 1922. The entrance to Tutankhamen's tomb is located in the Valley of the Kings and had been concealed by debris.
When the entrance was discovered more than 3,000 years later by Carter and his fellow archaeologist, George Herbert, they couldn't believe what they found. Inside were grand paintings and excessive grave goods like perfumes, oils, jewelry, and statues. Three coffins were nestled inside each other, with the innermost coffin being made of gold and housing King Tut's mummy.
It Took Over a Decade to Restore King Tut’s Tomb
In 2009, restoration began on King Tut's tomb. On top of cleaning and restoring the paintings that line the interior walls of the tomb, the Getty Conservation Institute and the Egyptian Ministry of Antiques worked to combat the wear and tear caused by decades of tourist activity according to History.
The photo above shows the finished product of one of the interior walls that were cleaned. Altogether the conservation efforts took more than a decade.
Mysterious 100 Ton Boxes Were Found In The Intricate Tunnel System Below The Pyramids
Recently, archaeologist Brien Foerster discovered 20 boxes that were precisely cut from Aswan granite. These boxes weighed a whopping 100 tons each (again, far greater than what a wood implement could have carried). The boxes were originally thought to be a burial place for prized bulls, except no evidence of bulls was actually found.
Some scientists believe these boxes held a mysterious, ancient form of energy. This idea is widely rejected by mainstream scholars – but when you get into it, it really makes you think.
Archaeologists Baffled By Statue Discovered In Ancient Pyramid
On August 1, 2018, the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt announced that they had made an incredible new discovery in the pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara. During a restoration project, the team discovered a precious statue depicting one of the most important Egyptian Gods — Osiris.
This discovery has so far baffled archaeologists who are now wondering who placed a valuable figure into a hole within the pyramid and why. For now, the head of the Saqqara archaeological site is speculating that "the statue was probably concealed in this area by a priest of Saqqara in antiquity."
The Great Pyramid Didn't Actually Look Like It Does Now – It Was Shiny Like A Diamond
The Great Pyramid didn't really blend in with the dirt and sand that surrounds it – that’s actually the inner core. In its heyday, the Great Pyramid was actually really, really impressive. It was covered in white, polished limestone that would have made it shine and sparkle. Cuts were made throughout this limestone to give it a smooth, flat appearance in direct sunlight (which Egypt definitely has plenty of considering it's a desert).
The Great Pyramid was thought to have reflected the sun like a mirror – a jewel emerging from the sand -- but an earthquake in 1303 AD caused most of these stones to loosen. They were taken away and reused in mosques and fortresses, so all that's left in the inner shell that isn't shiny or smooth.
Theorists Believe The Great Pyramid Was A Power Plant And Egyptians Had Electricity
History tells us that Egyptians were not an advanced society and the Pyramids of Giza were simply grand burial grounds for pharaohs and kings. Still, scientists are still baffled at how a primitive society with primitive tools could have built something so grand – and what about all those patches of heat? Plot twist: what if ancient Egypt wasn't as primitive as we originally thought?
Some scholars believe that ancient Egypt had electricity, and there's evidence in carvings that showed ancient Egyptians holding handheld torches that appeared to be powered by wireless electricity. It's built on water and the water passing through the underground cavities in the Great Pyramid is capable of creating an electrical current if that energy could be harnessed. The shafts inside the Great Pyramid are crafted from granite and are slightly radioactive, which ionizes the air inside – it's similar to a conductive insulating cable. Other scientists think the shafts had a different purpose.
Only The Great Pyramid Was Built With Air Shafts And No One Knows Why
The Great Pyramid is the only one of the three pyramids of Giza that have air shafts. The angles of these shafts correspond with celestial bodies (yup, we're bringing astronomy and potential aliens into this). It's a complete mystery how the Egyptians could have lined the shafts up with the stars or why they would have even bothered in the first place.
Perhaps it had something to do with guiding a body to the afterlife, perhaps it had to do with signaling aliens up above (probably not), but not all of these shafts even reach the outside. Some are completely closed off, while others could arguably have been used for ventilation, which is the most commonly accepted theory. Unless, of course, you believe they were used to conduct energy.
The New Chamber, Dubbed 'The Big Void,' Isn't Connected To Any Known Passages
The new chamber discovered in November has been dubbed the "big void" because it really is a void. The chamber isn't actually connected to any known passages inside the pyramid. Currently, visitors can actually get into the Grand Gallery if they hunch down and walk up a long tunnel. The Grand Gallery connects the Queen's chamber and the King's chamber.
That makes perfect sense for a giant burial ground, but where does that leave the big void? The giant cavity is at least 30 meters long and rests above the Grand Gallery, leading some scientists to think it possibly relieved weight on the Grand Gallery and prevented it from caving in. Either way, it's roughly the same size as the Grand Gallery, but right above it.
The Three Pyramids Are Lined Up With Orion's Belt
If things weren't weird enough, it's not just the shafts in the Great Pyramid that align with celestial bodies. Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure's pyramids are perfectly aligned with the stars that make up Orion's belt. Yes, those three, highly recognizable stars – Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. Why? No one knows.
Coincidentally, the pyramids are aligned at their southeast corners. How the heck did ancient Egyptians no only align these massive structures with each other but also with the sky? Again, no one knows. The idea of Orion's Belt wasn't invented until 2,000 years after the Pyramids were already built, but to Ancient Egyptians the constellation was associated with Osiris, God of Rebirth and the Afterlife.
Many People Believe The Pyramids Helped Kings Ascend To The God Of The Sun
If you're not buying into the suspicion that the pyramids are alien structures or giant power plants, there's another more recognized idea. The pyramids were built to help kings ascend to Sun Ra, the God of the Sun. Back in ancient Egyptian times, Kings thought of themselves as deities living on Earth.
Upon death, they needed to get back home. This is why tombs were equipped with objects the king might need to use in his afterlife, like live animals, gold or whatever the heck is generating heat inside the Great Pyramid's lower chambers.
The Chambers Point North With Greater Precision Than The Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Could the ancient Egyptians have been more precise than our current civilization? The pyramids were found to point North, but not just in the general direction of North. It points North within five-hundredths of a degree to the true magnetic North. That's more precise than the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich sets the actual clock to GTC (Greenwich Mean Time or Prime Meridian Time) and is a whopping 13 degrees away from true North. It was created in 1675. If they couldn't get true north just a few hundred years ago, what were the ancient Egyptians doing? How accurate were ancient Egyptian clocks compared to ours?
The Pyramids Show Knowledge Of Mathematical Constants
Here's where things get really weird (if they weren't already). If you subtract the Great Pyramid's length from its height, you get 314.16 – 100 times Pi. If you add the two sides together, in meters, it's 100 times Phi (a.k.a. the Golden Number) squared. Phi is 1.618 and is used time and time again in art, architecture, and theology.
Pi is a mathematical constant and it wasn't recognized until 1793 when we had modern measurements – but the ancient Egyptians totally were ahead of the times. Ancient Egyptians often measured in cubits. One cubit equals .0536 meters. The circumference of a circle that has the diameter of a single cubit equals Pi.
There Used To Be Numerous Structures And Buildings Around The Pyramids
Right now, it looks like the Pyramids of Giza stand alone in the desert, but they actually had many more side structures and buildings around them. The pyramids were definitely the main show, but they were surrounded by smaller tombs called Necropolis (or the City of the Dead).
There were other religious buildings around the pyramids like temples honoring the king, and the staff that took care of these various temples lived right next to them in even smaller buildings. Let's also not forget the Great Sphinx of Giza.
No One Knows Who Built The Sphinx Either
Just like pyramids, the Great Sphinx of Giza is a total mystery – maybe even more of a mystery than the pyramids. No one knows who actually built the Sphinx. Archaeologists are pretty split on who deserves the credit. Some believe that the Sphinx was commissioned by Khafre, who also created the second largest Pyramid, which would mean the statue was crafted around 2500 BCE. The Sphinx has some of his physical qualities, so maybe it was made in his likeness.
Other scholars think the Sphinx is older than Khafre and that it was commissioned by his father Khufu (that guy responsible for the biggest Pyramid). Some scholars even think the Sphinx is older than both of those because its face shows water damage. It's possible the statue was built in an era where Egypt saw a lot of rain (likely around 6000 BCE). The Sphinx and pyramids flooded every year before the building of the Aswan Dam.
Using Satellites, Archaeologists Have Uncovered 17 More Pyramids
There are more than just tombs buried in Necropolis. Archaeologists are using satellites to search for hidden structures underneath the Earth. In Egypt, they found 17 new pyramids buried around Giza. The infra-red technology being used has also uncovered more than 1,000 burial sites hidden beneath the sands.
Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist funded by NASA said, "I couldn’t believe we could locate so many sites. To excavate a pyramid is the dream of every archaeologist." Of the 17 newly found pyramids, two are already confirmed by teams on the ground. As new pyramids are discovered every day, the oldest one ever is still believed to be the Pyramid of Djoser.
The Pyramid Of Djoser Is Believed To Be The Oldest
Northwest of Memphis, the Pyramid of Djoser is believed by the scientists to be the oldest Egyptian pyramid. Erected during the 27th century BC, the pyramid is surrounded by a courtyard and ceremonial decorations. According to scientists, the weather-worn building originally stood 203 feet high. Built as a step pyramid, the mudbrick structure contains multiple complex structures.
Inside the tomb is a burial chamber ravaged by time. When archaeologists discovered the Pyramid of Djoser one of the first things they noticed was no body was inside. Although used as the tomb of King Djoser, the structure is void of treasure from years of looting.
The Pyramid Of Giza Was The World's Tallest Structure For 3,871 Years!
For nearly 4,000 years the Pyramid at Giza held the record for the tallest human-made structure. It lost its impressive standing in 1311 when the Lincoln Cathedral was built in England. Unlike the pyramids, which took decades to build, the Cathedral took over 200 years to construct!
Looking at the Cathedral of Lincoln today, you would never think it was taller than the Pyramid at Giza. However, the building's central spire collapsed in 1549 and was never rebuilt. It held the title of tallest building for 238 years, which is nothing compared to the record it broke!
The Great Pyramid Is The Last Of The Seven Ancient Wonders Still Standing
The Great Pyramid at Giza is one of the "Seven Ancient Wonders of the World." Of these great wonders, it is the only one still standing today. Built between 2584 and 2561 BCE for Pharaoh Khufu, the pyramid has stood the test of time. No earthquake, merchant, or mob has been able to destroy the Great Pyramid.
The pyramid's six ancient brethren have not been lucky enough to stand the test of time. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were destroyed by an earthquake. The Statue of Zuess also fell victim to an earthquake. A Christain mob tore down the Temple of Artemis in 401 CE. The Colossus of Rhodes was bought by a merchant in 654 CE and melted down. So the story goes.
Every Pyramid Was Built On The West Bank Of The Nile
Egyptian pharaohs had pyramids built on the west bank of the Nile River to face the setting sun. It was in this direction they believed home of the dead was towards. Of course, this was not the only reason. Egyptian rulers rightfully feared that after death their bodies would be robbed, and built that pyramids as a way to protect them in the afterlife.
Unfortunately, the efforts the pharaohs of Egypt went through to keep their remains unharmed failed. Building their tombs in the middle of pyramids with several passageways blocked by stonewalls did not keep greedy graverobbers from finding all the hidden treasures.
Egyptians Buried Themselves With Afterlife Goodies
Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death so much they buried themselves with objects for the dead to use. Buried treasures ranged from expensive to jewelry to everyday objects. One common item buried with every ruler was food. Being dead apparently leads to an incredible appetite!
Another interesting burial item many rulers had were small statues. These statues were believed to come alive in the afterlife and provide service for the pharaoh. In one uncovered tomb 400 statues were found. These statues were the only items found in the tomb.
A Kurdish Ruler Failed To Destroy The Pyramids
In the 12th century, Al-Aziz thought it would be a good idea to destroy the pyramids. The Kurdish ruler and second Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt tried his best and failed. The task was too big and he gave up.
Of course, he did leave his mark on one pyramid. If you travel to see Menkaure's Pyramid today, you'll notice a sizable slash on one side. This is as far as Al-Aziz got in his devilish plan to destroy the pyramids. The simple fact that he failed so gloriously shows how incredibly these ancient structures were built.
When Covered In Reflective Limestone, The Great Pyramid Could Be Seen From The Moon
Back in its glorious heyday, the Great Pyramid was literally the jewel of Egypt. Scientists believe the pyramid, covered in reflective limestone, could have been seen from the moon. They are more certain that people living in the mountains of Israel would witness its shiny glory.
There's a reason Egyptians called the Great Pyramid "Ikhet." The ancient word roughly translates to "glorious light." No one knows just how bright this light shined and no one has attempted to place reflective limestone back on the pyramid to find out!
The Pyramids Are A Cool 68 Degrees Inside
Despite being pounded by intense heat, the pyramids of Egypt stay relatively cool inside. Temperature readings have the historic structures remaining around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This fantastic feat or air cooling ingenuity is built right into the pyramid.
Leading to the Pharoah's chamber are numerous airshafts. When opened, they immediately allow cool air to enter. The temperature in the chamber would drop drastically as a result, letting the Pharaoh rest comfortably in death. The mind-blowing thing as that no matter the temperature outside, the chamber is a constant 68 degrees inside.
The Pyramids Were Not Built By Slaves
Despite everything you have been taught to believe, it's now known the pyramids were not built by slaves. Paid workers spent tireless hours constructing the pyramids. This workforce was brought in from the north and south and was highly respected for the art they created.
Amazingly, the discovery of paid workers was not made until 2010. During an expedition, archaeologists found the tombs of the pyramid workers. The bodies had been preserved in the sand and were buried with bread and beer to provide sustenance in the afterlife.
No One Knows What Glue Held The Pyramids Together
Built stone by stone, the pyramids are some of the most stable structures in the world. Modern scientists, however, still don't know how or why. The adhesive holding the stones together has yet to be broken down into its basics.
Scientists know that the glue holding the stones together is incredibly strong. That, unfortunately, is where their knowledge ends. The combination of ingredients used to create the adhesive remains a mystery. All that is known is what is seen. The glue between the stones is strong enough to make the pyramids nearly indestructible.
Imhotep Designed The First Pyramid
We're not talking about Imhotep from The Mummy movie franchise. The character might be named after a real Egyptian deity, but that is where the similarities end. The real Imhotep was a master architect during his time and chief minister to Djoser.
Imhotep is regarded as the architect of the first step pyramid. He was held in such high regard by Djoser that a statue bears his name in the King's court. Oddly enough, Imhotep was more than just an architect. He made his real mark in medicine and was worshiped as the God of Medicine in Egyptian lore.
The Egyptian Afterlife Is Free From Pain And Sorrow
We already know that the purpose of the pyramids was to help guide souls into the afterlife. What we haven't learned yet is what Egyptians believed the afterlife held. Obsessed with life after death, Egyptians also believed that their land was God's chosen place for humans to live.
With that in mind, they imagined that what came after death was a mirror of the land of the living. The only thing missing was pain and sorrow. This belief is why Egyptians buried their loved ones with food, drink, and jewelry; everything they believed was necessary for the soul in its next existence.
Hieroglyphics Are Not In The Pyramids
Hieroglyphics will forever be associated with Egyptian culture. However, until recently there were no known hieroglyphics in the pyramids. Within the Great Pyramid, there are chambers only big enough for robots to explore. In 2002 a robot found a small chamber with nothing in it.
Another robot recently explored the Great Pyramid and made a miraculous discovery. This robot, using a "micro-snake" camera, found hieroglyphics, the first known in a pyramid. If scientists can decipher what these symbols mean, it could help solve several mysteries still surrounding the pyramids. One of those mysteries is how pyramids could tell time.
Pyramids Could Tell Time
One of the most significant mysteries still surrounding the construction of the pyramids why they were designed to tell time. The Great Pyramid cast no shadow at noon, indicating that it is more than just an ancient tomb; it is also a sundial. Not just any sundial though, one of the most complex ever built.
Sundials are one of the earliest forms of timekeeping. Designed to cast a shadow based on the positioning of the sun, Sundials are the most accurate way to tell time. To be able to build a pyramid as one of the most accurate sundials ever produced astounds archaeologists.
The Great Pyramid At Giza Was Not A Tomb
The biggest mystery surrounding the Egyptian pyramids remains the purpose of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The structure has been investigated countless times, and a mummy has never been discovered. When first explored by Arabs in 820 AD, the only thing found was a granite box known as the "coffer."
This lack of bodies contradicts the mainstream theory that pyramids were tombs to provide pharaohs and eternal resting place. If the Great Pyramid is not a tomb, then what is it? Someday maybe the mystery will be solved, until then we'll enjoy the guessing game!