The Great Pyramids were built during the Old Kingdom. The biggest one, the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is the oldest one, and yet the only one still in existence. These pyramids are an awesome sight!
The largest of the Great Pyramids was built by the Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) of the 4th Dynasty between 2589 - 2566 BCE. It is believed to have been built over 20 years. It was originally 145.75 m (478.18 ft) high. Over the years it lost 10 m (30 ft) off its top. It was the tallest man made structure for 4300 years. The Eiffel Tower was the first structure to surpass the Great Pyramid in height. The sides of all the pyramids were covered with a casing of white stones. It must have been an awesome sight, this huge white structure, gleaming in the sun.
The base is a square of 229 m (751 ft) on a side. The slope of the faces of the pyramid is 51°. The sides are aligned with the cardinal compass directions. The structure was build from about 2 million stone blocks, each weighing more than two tons. The area covered by the Great Pyramid can accommodate St. Peter's in Rome, the great cathedrals in Florence and Milan, and Westminster and St. Paul's in London combined.
The entrance to the burial chamber is on the north face. A number of corridors, galleries, and escape shafts are inside the pyramid. The Pharaoh's burial chamber was in the heart of the pyramid, accessible only through the Great Gallery and an ascending corridor. The Pharaoh's sarcophagus is made of red granite, the same material as the inner walls of the burial chamber.
Next to the pyramid was buried the Sun Boat. It was only discovered in 1954. It is believed to have carried the body of Khufu on his last journey on earth, before he was buried inside the pyramid.
The next smaller pyramid was build by the son of Khufu, Khafra (Chephren) around 2570 BCE. It is slightly smaller, but built on higher ground, so its top is higher than Khufu's. It was originally 143.5 m (470.8 ft) high, its present height is 136.4 m (447.5 ft). Its base was 215.25 m (706.20 ft) on a side. The angle of its faces was 53°. This pyramid still shows some of the casing at the top.
The third of the Great Pyramids is the Pyramid of Menkaura, son of Khafra. It was originally 66.45 m (218.01 ft) high. The angle of its faces was 51°. The length of the bases is 104.6 m (343.2 ft). It had a causeway approaching it that was 608 m (1,995 ft) long. It had several temple complexes around it, as well as three smaller Queen's pyramids. The Queen's pyramids were up to 28.4 m (93.2 ft) high, with bases between 31 m (102 ft) and 44 m (144 ft).
This Sphinx is the largest single sculpted statue in the world, carved directly from the rock of the plateau of Giza. It is 57 m (187 ft) long, and 20 m (70 ft) high. No one knows for certain when it was built. Based on the current head, many researchers have concluded that the Sphinx was built by the Pharaoh Khafra (Chephren) in the 4th Dynasty around 2500 BCE.
In the evening I went to a light show at the Great Sphinx. It was interesting to watch but a little kitschy.
The Great Pyramids and the Sphinx are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Memphis and its Necropolis - the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur.
All pictures are © Dr. Günther Eichhorn, unless otherwise noted.
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Page last updated on Thu Mar 18 15:01:53 2021 (Mountain Standard Time)
Great Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza on soaring.guenther-eichhorn.com