Over the years, I have been fed with one shocking new fact a time about the Pyramids the Egyptians built over 3,800 years ago. Although not anywhere even close to being a new fact, this is the latest fact I have uncovered about the Great Pyramid of Giza, or the Pyramid of Khufu – The largest and the oldest of all the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex.
When observed carefully, what actually looks like an average square pyramid with four visible sides, that actually isn’t the case. Technically, there are eight visible sides. Here’s an exaggerated cartoon of what I mean by the eight sides.
In fact, the Menkaure, the third pyramid at Giza and the Red Pyramid at Dahshur have also been observed to have a similar concavity to each of their faces!
I know it is hard to believe, just because not many a people talk about it. For that, here are a few images of what it looks like from up above.
The images to justice, to explain it in words I can’t do better than J.P. Lepre, like he did in his book The Egyptian Pyramids: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference. Here’s an excerpt from the page 65 of this book:
One very unusual feature of the Great Pyramid is a concavity of the core that makes the monument an eight-sided figure, rather than four-sided like every other Egyptian pyramid. That is to say, that its four sides are hollowed in or indented along their central lines, from base to peak. This concavity divides each of the apparent four sides in half, creating a very special and unusual eight-sided pyramid; and it is executed to such an extraordinary degree of precision as to enter the realm of the uncanny. For, viewed from any ground position or distance, this concavity is quite invisible to the naked eye. The hollowing-in can be noticed only from the air, and only at certain times of the day. This explains why virtually every available photograph of the Great Pyramid does not show the hollowing-in phenomenon, and why the concavity was never discovered until the age of aviation. It was discovered quite by accident in 1940, when a British Air Force pilot, P. Groves, was flying over the pyramid. He happened to notice the concavity and captured it in the now-famous photograph.
The concavity of each side definitely was not an accident. I mean each of the 8 sides dip inside by an angle of 1 degree of 1/2 a degree. That’s intensely accurate for even today’s standards. Imagine doing it 3,800 years ago. They did…
The Egyptians also didn’t go through all that extra work of making 1 degree dips on each side just for the sake of trolling people for thousands of years. The only reason I see that they did is has to do something with the proper fit of the casing stones. And that brings us to the diversion:
Thanks to the casing stones, several hundreds of years ago, the Great Pyramid Giza looked something like the following:
A shiny white smooth pyramid with no visible steps whatsoever. Probably no visible 8 sides too. In the past, the great pyramid of Giza was covered in a shell of precisely cut limestone blocks which were polished shiny smooth by master stone cutters.
A massive earthquake which occurred in the year 1303 AD let most of those casing stones free and they fell around the Pyramid. These were then, over the years, collected by Bahri Sultan in 1356 and also later by Muhammad Ali Pasha in the 19th century to make shiny mosque tops such as these.
Don’t believe me, believe the Smithsonian channel.
Some of these casing stones are still present at the base of the Pyramid and they look like this. Note the precise stone cuts and polish that has lasted till date:
Now there are several theories as to why these faces were made to be slightly concave as we have seen above. Some of them are as follow:
Firstly, a slightly dipped core (the inside part of the casing stones, that we see today), has been said to have helped the casing stones from sliding away easily. Although they did slide away eventually, but it sure took long and a massive earthquake. Like “The Pyramids, 2001, p. 195” mentions that the Red Pyramid’s core was made like that to impart stability to the casing stones.
Now this would mean that for the casing covered pyramid to look like a perfect pyramid, the casing blocks which would be placed at the center of each face would be larger and thicker, resulting in a nice guide to lay the other blocks towards each edge. Also, creating a better bond between the core and the casing blocks.
Some say that it was done for aesthetic reasons, as concave faces would make the structure more pleasing to the eye. I don’t think that really was the reason. The casing stones were intended to be there and the inner part wasn’t really made to look pleasing to the eye.
Another good theory is that after the casing stones slid of the faces, the strong desert winds for hundreds of years resulted in a natural erosion which wore down the center of the pyramids more than the edges. Again, highly unlikely, but well, we can only imagine what the real reason was.
What do you think it could have been? I personally put my bets on the first theory.