Cheops, the ancient Egyptian pharaoh, was king of the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom in the 26th century BC. This was a time when some of the most important advances, developments and settlements occurred along the River Nile and when the awe-inspiring Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed.
Cheops is the Greek translation of “Khufu” and although he is believed to have had a long reign, not much is known about his birth, life or death. Researchers presume this pyramid at Giza to have been built as his tomb. The pyramid was impressive even during its construction and was classified as one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built with sheer perfection and the size was overwhelming. The top thirty feet have over time been destroyed, but it is still 450 feet high – the equivalent of a thirty five-story building.
Calculations reveal that there are at least 2,300,000 stones of different sizes in the pyramid. The stones weigh, on average, one and a half tons each. This mammoth project would have been complicated to plan, manage and administer. A hundred thousand slaves were needed for the twenty year construction period. They would have had to lay a minimum of three hundred stones per day, which would have been quarried, cut, transported and used according to meticulously engineered plans. The logistics would have included a fleet of ships and a system to feed all the workers. An enormous task!
There are also questions about the many internal chambers, passages and the shafts that were found in this pyramid that have not been found in any other. Some researchers believe they may be “spirit” or “soul shafts”, which falls in line with the religious beliefs of this time in Ancient Egypt. But the question is then asked why no pyramids built after this time contain these shafts. Some Egyptologists believe that this was a time of radical religious revolution and thus this pyramid reflected this change.
But there are still of course many other unanswered questions. The “answers” we have so far are merely assumptions based on the evidence at hand. Sadly Cheops' tomb was raided over the centuries so we only have the art and hieroglyphics on the internal walls to give any clues about this remarkable leader and the construction of this wonderful pyramid.
From the little we know, Cheops may have been the first person to be mummified. This ancient process of removing the internal organs, using salt to dry the body, wrapping it in material and covering it with a tree sap to preserve it, continued for centuries afterwards.
The Great Pyramid of Giza has stood for almost five thousand years and with the current rate of erosion it will last for at least another million. Cheops has really left his mark on the world and possibly more than any other person on earth. Will we remember Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln or Nelson Mandela in five thousand years from now?