10 facts on pyramids

Updated March 23, 2017

The pyramids of ancient Egypt have been a source of fascination for centuries. Intended as tombs for the pharaohs, it remains a mystery as to how they were built. Using just ropes and sledges to move blocks of stone, the builders achieved such precision that some researchers have speculated the pyramids were actually built by aliens.

The First Pyramid

Originally intended as a tomb for the Pharaoh Djoser, Egypt's first pyramid was a step pyramid built at Saggara in 2911 B.C. It was 204 feet high, making it the tallest building of its time.


Imhotep was the architect of the step pyramid at Saqqara, He was also a physician and priest who was deified 1,400 years after his death.


Actually, pyramid builders were not slaves or foreigners, but Egyptians, some of who were permanent or part-time employees of the pharaoh. They lived in nearby villages or in settlements constructed to house the workers.

The Great Pyarmid

The Great Pyramid at Giza was built during the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (circa 2620 to 2566 B.C.) and was the first "true pyramid" with even sides. It took 20 to 30 years to complete and is the largest pyramid.

Number of Stone Blocks

The Great Pyramid is estimated to have about 2,300,000 stone blocks weighing two to 30 tons each. Some individual blocks weigh as much as 70 tons. Huge limestone blocks were placed on barges and floated down the Nile from quarries.

Inside Temperature

The amount of stone mass keeps the interior of the Great Pyramid at a constant 20 degrees Celsius.

Years To Build

It took 20,000 to 30,000 workers over 80 years to build the pyramids at Giza. Since it took decades to build a pyramid, a pharaoh would begin construction not long after he took the throne since the building process might last the length of his reign.

Working Conditions

Labourers on the pyramids were usually paid in food and received one day off in 10.

The Last One Standing

The Great Pyramid is the only surviving ancient wonder of the world. It is also the oldest at around 4,600 years old.

118 Pyarmids

There are 118 pyramids in Egypt, the last one uncovered in 2008. It is the 4,300 year-old tomb of queen Sesheshet.

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About the Author

Anthony Potenza began writing in 1985 as a publicity and staff writer for 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. He has written a number of articles online, focusing on topics such as food and wine, photography, fly fishing and personal finance. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University.