Pyramids were built entirely of stone during the early time. The core body of these pyramids was made of locally mined limestone, but the outside casing was made of a superior grade limestone obtained near contemporary Cairo. Both stones were cut with a high level of precision using only basic tools such as picks and hammers.
The Egyptians built their pyramids over a very long period of time. First they would collect rocks from around their city walls and use them to construct small pyramidal shapes as training exercises for their skills as masons. Eventually, they constructed larger structures that used more advanced construction techniques. By the time we reach the Old Kingdom (about 2690-2160 B.C.) there are many examples of properly constructed pyramids located all over Egypt. They are still being discovered today because some ancient cities were not destroyed after the pharaohs died out so their pyramids remain visible today.
During the Middle Kingdom (2040-1780 B.C.) the design of the pyramid changed quite a bit. The inside of the pyramid was lined with smooth, flat blocks of limestone called stucco. The king would have been buried in a specially designed chamber at the heart of the pyramid. The ceiling of this chamber was also made of limestone and it resembled the shape of the king's head. This is where his ka (spirit) would go after death.
The smooth, angled exterior casing stones that covered the pyramid's exposed surface were constructed of white Tura limestone. Granite blocks were used to construct structural parts that required higher strength, such as the King's Chamber in the case of the Khufu pyramid. The granite was most likely obtained from local sources within Egypt.
The pyramid was built for Khufu, who took the throne around 2589 BC. He was the son of Snefru, the previous king of Egypt. According to traditional stories, Khufu died while still a young man during the 18th year of his reign and was subsequently buried in the Great Pyramid. His body was never found.
In 1850, an English architect named John Howard Parker discovered carved images and hieroglyphics on the walls of the Queen's Chamber. He realized that they were once part of the original construction plans for the pyramid and made copies of them. These drawings are now kept in the British Museum in London. They show that the King's Chamber was intended to be completely lined with polished copper sheets, but only the lower portion of this chamber has been preserved today. The upper part is made of solid masonry.
Some scholars believe that the interior of the pyramid was painted red, but this is not confirmed by archaeological evidence.
Stones. Stones were not only utilized to construct pyramids, but they also functioned as crucial tools. Limestone and granite were the two most common stone kinds utilized in building.
Limestones are a type of sedimentary rock composed of large rounded or flat crystals interspersed with sand grains and small shells. They can be white or brown or even blue in color. Geologists have found layers of limestone across many parts of the world, including Egypt. The Egyptians made use of the softer upper layer of this stone for building purposes. The harder lower layer was used as ballast for their ships.
Granites are dense rocks composed of mostly quartz and feldspar with smaller amounts of other minerals such as mica. They tend to be light gray or dark green in color. Granite has been used throughout history for construction projects due to its durability. However, some modern builders choose to utilize concrete instead since it is more affordable than granite.
The list of tools used by ancient builders is long and impressive. There are several reasons why archaeologists believe that the Egyptians built such large structures with simple tools. One reason is because they would have had no need for advanced tools if all they needed to build these monuments was stone.
The casing stones for the Great Pyramid were cut at quarries on the east bank of the Nile, near the outskirts of Cairo. The mortar used has no recognized provenance. It has been studied and its chemical makeup is understood, but it cannot be duplicated. Some have suggested that the Egyptians obtained their knowledge of mortar from abroad, perhaps as early as the 16th century B.C., but this is unlikely since they had no wheeled vehicles at that time.
The pyramid builders used a technique known as "squaring" before laying out their blocks. This involved measuring angles between pairs of stakes placed around the site with lengths equal to the maximum height of the wall being constructed. They would then use these measurements to determine how many bricks or stones should be collected for the job. Theoretically, any stone fitting into the space between the stakes could be used, but only certain kinds of rock were available in Egypt at that time. The choices included fine-grained dolerite for the lower courses, coarser-grained granite for the middle levels, and limestone for the top layer.
In practice, only certain size rocks were used. The corners of the square were filled with small stones to provide traction for the beater sticks used by the workmen. These sticks can still be seen embedded in some of the casing stones at Giza.
Limestone was one of the materials used to construct the Giza Pyramids. A close-up of Egypt's ancient pyramids. Giza is located outside of Cairo, Egypt, and is home to the Pyramids of Giza, one of the most recognizable landmarks of early civilization on the planet. The three pyramids there are the oldest still standing after thousands of years.
The first pyramid was apparently built as a tomb for Pharaoh Khufu (also known as Cheops). It is based on the model built by King Menkaure about 5,000 years ago for his own use. The second pyramid is named after its builder, King Khafre. It is similar to the first pyramid but not quite so tall. The third pyramid is called the Great Pyramid and it is the largest of the three pyramids. It is also the only one that remains completely intact. Its current height is 394 feet (120 m), although it once reached a height of 470 feet (140 m). The pyramid is almost exactly 250 feet (76 m) on each side.
Khufu's and Khafre's pyramids are made of limestone, which was transported from nearby quarries to the construction sites. The stone blocks of the pyramids were then put into place with help of ropes and levers. Some stones in the pyramids date back to the time of Alexander the Great, while others are even older than that.