The Great Pyramid of Giza, built for Pharaoh Khufu, is truly one of the most spectacular wonders of the world, putting the “awe” in awesome. The pyramid, rising 480 feet above the desert floor, was built between 2580 and 2560 by an estimated 15,000 to 100,00o workers. The pyramid is made up of 2.3 million blocks, each weighing 3 tons, some transported more than 500 miles away. In addition, the pyramid contains up to 500,000 tons of mortar.
In 2002, the curious folks at HowStuffWorks.com dusted off their abacuses to calculate the cost of building the Great Pyramid of Giza today. They figured that carving 3-ton blocks out of a quarry would be too difficult and expensive. So they went with a modern alternative — concrete. “The Great Pyramid is even a little smaller than the Hoover Dam,” they note, “only about 2.5 million cubic yards of concrete are needed [vs. 3 million for Hoover Dam]. For a big job like this, you would build your own concrete plant… to get the cost down to $50 per square yard. That means that the concrete alone will cost $125 million.” Then you have to factor in the cost of labor, form work, design costs, inspections, permits, etc. that would bring the final cost to about $300 million. In 2015 dollars, that would be about $400 million. That’s a steal for building one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World compared to the cost of building a modern skyscraper, like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE that cost more than $1.5 billion in 2012.
For further reading: What If? 75 Fascinating Questions and Answers by the Team at HowStuffWorks.com (2002)