If you read my last blog entry, you know that AmaWaterways is currently building a luxurious new ship that will hold up to 68 guests as they sail down the mysterious Nile River in Egypt! The AmaDahlia will begin sailing in September of 2021. AmaWaterways has introduced an unparalleled 11-night Nile River cruise and land experience that will include exquisite cuisine, authentic experiences and the extraordinary services for which they are known. I’m really excited about visiting the pyramids, as this destination has been on my Bucket List since before I knew to call it a bucket list!
Before your cruise begins, you will spend 3 nights in the amazing Four Seasons Hotel Cairo At the First Residence. During this time, you’ll explore the Egyptian Museum & the iconic Giza complex which consists of three large pyramids built between 2589 BC and 2504 BC. (I’ll have another blog entry soon about the highlights of the “Secrets of Egypt & the Nile” itinerary offered by AmaWaterways). In the meantime, let’s learn a bit about the Great Mysteries of Giza courtesy of AmaWaterways.
Old Theories and New Discoveries of the Great Pyramid
The Great Pyramid of Giza – the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex – has been at the center of conspiracy theories for decades as people have struggled to understand how it was constructed. Was it a calling card left behind by aliens? Did UFOs lend insight on how to construct it? Here’s what we now know about this historic structure that has mystified researchers and theorists.
Last Man Standing
Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza is not only the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but the only one that has survived all the way to modern times. Constructed between 2560 and 2540 BC, the pyramid was built for Pharaoh Kufu – the second pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty. It is the largest of all the tombs built in the ancient world and has towered over the West Bank of the Nile River, south of Cairo, for more than 4,000 years.
While the Great Pyramid was once the tallest man-made structure in the world – a title it held for thousands of years – it was eventually overtaken by the Lincoln Cathedral in 1311 CE. It once stood at 481 feet tall but has since shrunk down by about 25 feet as a result of erosion.
All That Glitters Wasn’t Always Gold
Despite the golden images we now often see of the pyramid, a modern documentary by historian Bettany Hughes claims that it was pure white when it was built. Citing a 4,500-year-old journal, Hughes has stated that it was constructed from polished white limestone – 2.6 million casing stones, in fact, which took about 20 years to turn into the pyramid we recognize from history books. The stones, which weighed in at 2.5 tons each, were carried for 15 miles along the Nile River. The final structure is estimated to weigh about 6.5 million tons. The pyramid no longer has that pure white appearance because its outer limestone shell was stripped away over the years, potentially for use in other building projects.
While it is hard to imagine how thousands of heavy bricks were maneuvered into the pyramid shape without modern technology, historians and scholars suspect that a system of ramps was used. Based on archaeological evidence at other pyramid sites, they believe that staircase, spiral and linear ramps were used to slowly raise the stones hundreds of feet into the air. At that point, wooden and bronze levers were likely used to position the stones into the pyramid formation.
Almost Perfect, But Not Quite
Highly regarded as a nearly perfect structure, it turns out that the Great Pyramid of Giza is actually slightly lopsided. An error made during construction caused the west side of the pyramid to be slightly longer than the east side, which means that the base isn’t a perfect square like it appears to be. This error was not discovered until 2016 when researchers were studying the original dimensions.
Slight imperfections aside, the Great Pyramid of Giza is a must-see – sure to impress even the most critical of travelers. While many questions about the pyramid remain unanswered, researchers are dedicated to digging into its history, and new archaeological evidence continues to shed more light on its stunning construction.
Would you like more information about AmaWaterways or visiting Egypt?