When built, the pyramid stood 146.6m (480.9ft) tall, but has been reduced in height by the effects of weathering over the centuries coupled with the loss of its limestone cladding. A metal pole placed at the top of the pyramid now serves to illustrate its original height.
The Great Pyramid was built by King Khufu, son of Sneferu, in about 2500BC. It was originally called Akhet Khufu, meaning 'Khufu belongs to the horizon'.
The structure comprises 2.3 million blocks of limestone and rests on 210 piers, each of which weighs approximately 2.5 tonnes. The exterior surface was smooth when built - white in colour with a gold tip.
Beside the Great Pyramid are three secondary pyramids, two solar boats, two cemeteries and the remains of a funerary temple.
The interior of the Pyramid is accessed via a descending corridor, 1.2m high, which leads to an underground chamber, King's and Queen's chambers and the Great Gallery, a space 47m long and 8.5m high. Two 'aeration tunnels' facilitate the direct ascension of the king to heaven.
This was the world's tallest structure from about 2580BC to 1310AD - a reign of 3,800 years. It was surpassed by Lincoln Cathedral.
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