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Notes on the Geography of Egypt: Egyptian Icons: Photo 2

world pictures Egypt: Egyptian Icons

This is the biggest of them all, the pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). With a side length of 750 feet and a height of 450, it covers 13 football fields. Its base deviates less than one inch from absolute rectangularity, and its cardinal alignment is almost perfect, deviating from true north by no more than a third of a degree.

Although the apparent entrance was from temples on the east side, the true (and hidden) entrance was from the north. There, a path led down, then forked. One branch continued down to a chamber in the underlying bedrock, while the other branch rose and then split again. One of those branches proceeded horizontally to the center of the pyramid, while the other rose through a tall, corbelled gallery into the king's chamber, lined with massive granite blocks to support the mass of stone above the chamber. From the chamber, air shafts radiated diagonally to midpoints of the pyramid slope, not to provide ventilation in any mundane sense but to provide a path for the pharoah's soul to ascend to heaven. Remember: the rising sun shone upon the summits, just as it shone upon the earth when land first rose from the sea.

The intricacy of the stone work is extraordinary and by no means all arranged like the horizontal blocks visible here. Still, the pyramid is not solid stone: either to increase its stability or reduce its cost, the interior of this pyramid contains irregular, sand-filled voids. Some other pyramids are filled with rubble.

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