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Pyramids at Giza, Egypt’s Ancient Wonders


Sitting on the edge of Cairo, the Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Cheops, is the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Complete Video Script

The Pyramids at Giza, one of the most recognizable scenes in all of tourism. Towering before us are the tombs of three great kings, or "pharaohs." These monuments were built to mark and to protect the bodies of fabulously wealthy and powerful pharaohs.

They spent a good part of their lives and their kingdom's wealth building huge pyramids, which served as lockers for whatever they wanted to take into the afterlife: their bodies, their treasures — even their favorite pets.

The pyramid of the pharaoh Cheops is the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This grandest of all pyramids — 700 feet long on each side — was built 2,500 years before Christ. The neighboring pyramids are likely those of Cheops' son and grandson. The smaller ones? They're for the wives and daughters.

Experts guess that with 10,000 laborers hard at work, it took 20 years to build the pyramid of Cheops. According to my abacus, that's 200,000 man-years of hard labor. Workers dragged over 2 million huge stones up ramps, eventually constructing this 450-foot-high monument. In their day, the pyramids were encased in a shiny limestone veneer. I sure hope Cheops was satisfied.

Long, secret corridors, originally blocked by sliding stones, lead to the tomb chamber deep in the center of each pyramid. Climbing this passage, you marvel at the design and the audacity of the project.

Finally, reaching the burial room, you're hit by the thought that this was the most sacred and precious chamber in the ancient world — silent for 4,000 years, until the arrival of tourism.

This is it: the center of this massive pyramid. The pharaoh's mummy was put in this stone sarcophagus. The sarcophagus is bigger than the passageway — so this must have been here first, and then the pyramid built around it. This huge chamber was filled with treasures.

A little shaft was designed into the pyramid to provide an escape passage for the soul of the pharaoh.

For the pharaoh, the most important treasure was his soul, which needed to be free for the ascent to the afterlife.

Back outside, complementing the scene, is the mysterious [Great] Sphinx. As old as the pyramids, it was carved out of a piece of hard rock that stuck above the limestone plateau. With the body of a lion and the head of a king, or god, it came to symbolize both strength and wisdom as it faces east and the rising sun.