When the pyramid was nearly built, a particular block clad with gleaming metal (either gold or electrum) was set atop it. The pyramid was then covered with chunks of white limestone from quarries all along the Nile. The Egyptians called this stone "siderostatic", which means it would hold the shape of the monument under its own weight.
The coverage made the pyramid invisible to radar at frequencies used by the ancient world's air traffic control system. Modern scientists believe that this is why the kings were not attacked by aircraft while they were alive. They probably also told their servants to do the same.
The siderostats were removed when the coverage was no longer needed, after which time the pyramids were exposed to air and weathering effects. Both types of pyramid gradually lost their glistening surfaces over time through erosion. This is why modern-day pyramids are usually described as "gray" or "white".
However, some parts of the interior of the Great Pyramid remain dark even today. These include the center chamber and the burial chambers of King Khufu. No one knows how the builders knew where to dig without damaging the walls, but they may have used natural fissures as marks for directionality.
Perhaps more importantly, they didn't.
Other pieces were brought down the Nile by boat: white limestone from Tura for the casing and granite blocks weighing up to 80 tonnes from Aswan for the King's Chamber construction. Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, there are three known rooms...
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Hughes claims that the pyramid was built with white limestone transported from 15 miles distant and polished to a dazzling gloss. More articles may be found on INSIDER's homepage.
However, this is not true. The Great Pyramid of Giza is made of dark gray granite.
The original color of the pyramids has been debated for many years. Some scholars claim that the pyramids were painted black, while others argue that they were colored red or yellow. However, recent research has shown that the pyramids were most likely painted dull gray. This color would have been very difficult to produce using only natural resources available in Ancient Egypt.
In addition, the stone used to build the pyramids at Giza was imported from hundreds of miles away. The rock was hauled up from the south of the country into an area near the capital city of Cairo where it was sorted by type and cut to size.
There are several theories about why the pyramids were built. Some believe that they were constructed as tombs for the Egyptian kings, while others think that they were designed as astronomical observatories. However, there is no clear evidence supporting these ideas.
Today I discovered that the Giza pyramids were once white. When the pyramids were first completed, they were coated with a coating of white "casing stones" on the outside. The Great Pyramid is composed of around 2.3 million limestone pieces. Large granite stones may also be found in the pyramid, such as in the king's room. The Egyptians used wood and clay for building materials, so finding stones this size at Giza must have been quite a find.
I'm sure you've seen pictures of the pyramids and they look black. That's because they are actually dark gray or even brown. The casing stones are made of crushed rock and covered in plaster. Over time this caused the pyramids to turn black.
Here are some photos showing how white the pyramids used to be:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Larger image available here
Horus Meryet (or Amenemhet) II - The King Who Made Changes to His Tomb
Karnak Temple - The largest temple in Egypt built by Pharaoh Khufu (Chephren)
Mummy of Khafre - The second king from the Fourth Dynasty (about 2455-2333 B.C.)
The pyramids were built on the spot. The limestone mud was hauled up in buckets and then poured, packed, or pushed into molds (made of wood, stone, clay, or brick) that were set on the pyramid's sides. This re-agglomerated limestone hardened into resistant blocks after being joined by geochemical reaction (called geopolymer cement).
The builders used water to mix the limestone powder and clay with alkaline substances such as sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide. They also added sulfur to promote this reaction. The result was a hard material that could be used to make buildings like houses or statues. Without sulfur, the mixture would have been too weak to be useful.
There are two ways to make bricks: dry and wet. With dry methods, the soil is dried before laying out the bricks. When watered, the soil becomes soft, which makes it easier to handle. Dry conditions are needed for this method to work well. In wet environments where there is no dry season, builders use wet methods. The mortar used to bind the stones together contains lime from seashells or bones. This conserves moisture and prevents the mortar from drying out.
The ancient Egyptians made good use of natural resources, especially limestone. It was the main ingredient in making mortar and bricks. Limestone is easy to come by and very durable. It can stand extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
They also used sand to smooth out surfaces and fill in gaps between the stones.
Several ideas have been presented to explain how pyramids were built, but for the time being, the subject remains unanswered. According to one interpretation, causeways were used to transport stone blocks on wooden sleds up the sides of the pyramids. To lessen friction when transporting the blocks, the ramps were greased with water. Some scientists believe that sticks and mud mixed with animal fat could have been used instead.
The pyramid construction theories include:
Theories based on mechanical advantage - including the lever, pulley, and winch theories. These theories claim that machines, usually powered by human strength, were used to build the structures. The builders would have had to maintain their concentration throughout the eight hour shifts required for the projects. This seems unlikely because even today's technology does not allow for this kind of effort without breaking a sweat.
Theories based on magic or mythology - these theories claim that gods or spirits using magic power built the structures. Although this idea may at first seem plausible, it too falls short of proof. There is no evidence that supports any type of construction work beyond what we can see with our own eyes.
Science has finally caught up with ancient Egypt! Recent discoveries have proved that some of the techniques used by the Egyptians to build their monuments were very efficient ways of heavy stone lifting and moving about two thousand years ago.