The Giza Pyramid Complex also called the Giza Necropolis, is the site on the Giza Plateau in Greater Cairo, Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza. All were built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The site also includes several cemeteries and the remains of a worker’s village.
The site is at the edges of the Western Desert, approximately 9 kilometers west of the Nile River in the city of Giza, and about 13 kilometers southwest of the city center of Cairo.
The Great Pyramid and the Pyramid of Khafre are the largest pyramids built in ancient Egypt, and they have historically been common as emblems of Ancient Egypt in the Western imagination. They were popularized in Hellenistic times when the Great Pyramid was listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is by far the oldest of the Ancient Wonders and the only one still in existence.
Pyramids and Sphinx
Giza pyramid complex
Pyramids of Gizeh. 1893. Egypt; heliogravure after original views. Wilbour Library of Egyptology. Brooklyn Museum
The Giza pyramid complex consists of the Great Pyramid (also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu and constructed, the somewhat smaller Pyramid of Khafre (or Chephren) a few hundred meters to the south-west, and the relatively modest-sized Pyramid of Menkaure (or Mykerinos) a few hundred meters farther south-west. The Great Sphinx lies on the east side of the complex. The current consensus among Egyptologists is that the head of the Great Sphinx is that of Khafre. Along with these major monuments are a number of smaller satellite edifices, known as “queens” pyramids, causeways, and valley pyramids
Main article: Great Pyramid of Giza
Khufu’s pyramid complex consists of a valley temple, now buried beneath the village of Nazlet el-Samman; diabase paving and nummulitic limestone walls have been found but the site has not been excavated, The valley temple was connected to a causeway which was largely destroyed when the village was constructed. The causeway led to the Mortuary Temple of Khufu. Of this temple, the basalt pavement is the only thing that remains. The mortuary temple was connected to the king’s pyramid. The king’s pyramid, completed in 2560 BC, has three smaller queen’s pyramids associated with it and three boat pits. The boat pits contained a ship, and the two pits on the south side of the pyramid still contained intact ships when excavated. One of these ships, the Khufu ship, has been restored and is on display at the Giza Solar boat museum.
Khufu’s pyramid still has a limited number of casing stones at its base. These casing stones were made of fine white limestone quarried from the nearby range.
Main articles: Pyramid of Khafre and Great Sphinx of Giza
Khafre’s pyramid complex consists of a valley temple, the Sphinx temple, a causeway, a mortuary temple, and the king’s pyramid. The valley temple yielded several statues of Khafre. Several were found in a well on the floor of the temple by Mariette in 1860. Others were found during successive excavations by Sieglin (1909–10), Junker, Reisner, and Hassan. Khafre’s complex contained five boat-pits and a subsidiary pyramid with a serdab.:19–26 Khafre’s pyramid, completed in 2570 BC, appears larger than the adjacent Khufu Pyramid by virtue of its more elevated location, and the steeper angle of inclination of its construction—it is, in fact, smaller in both height and volume. Khafre’s pyramid retains a prominent display of casing stones at its apex.
Main article: Pyramid of Menkaure
Menkaure’s pyramid complex consists of a valley temple, a causeway, a mortuary temple, and the king’s pyramid. The valley temple once contained several statues of Menkaure. During the 5th Dynasty, a smaller ante-temple was added to the valley temple. The mortuary temple also yielded several statues of Menkaure. The king’s pyramid, completed ca. 2510 BC, has three subsidiaries or queen’s pyramids.:26–35 Of the four major monuments, only Menkaure’s pyramid is seen today without any of its original polished limestone casing.
Main article: Great Sphinx of Giza
The Sphinx dates from the reign of king Khafre. During the New Kingdom, Amenhotep II dedicated a new temple to Hauron-Haremakhet, and this structure was added onto by later rulers
Main article: Egyptian pyramid construction techniques
Most construction theories are based on the idea that the pyramids were built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place. The disagreements center on the method by which the stones were conveyed and placed and how possible the method was.
In building the pyramids, the architects might have developed their techniques over time. They would select a site on a relatively flat area of bedrock—not sand—which provided a stable foundation. After carefully surveying the site and laying down the first level of stones, they constructed the pyramids in horizontal levels, one on top of the other.
For the Great Pyramid, most of the stone for the interior seems to have been quarried immediately to the south of the construction site. The smooth exterior of the pyramid was made of a fine grade of white limestone that was quarried across the Nile. These exterior blocks had to be carefully cut, transported by river barge to Giza, and dragged up ramps to the construction site. Only a few exterior blocks remain in place at the bottom of the Great Pyramid. During the Middle Ages (5th century to 15th century), people may have taken the rest away for building projects in the city of Cairo.
To ensure that the pyramid remained symmetrical, the exterior casing stones all had to be equal in height and width. Workers might have marked all the blocks to indicate the angle of the pyramid wall and trimmed the surfaces carefully so that the blocks fit together. During construction, the outer surface of the stone was smooth limestone; excess stone has eroded as time has passed
The pyramids of Giza and others are thought to have been constructed to house the remains of the deceased Pharaohs who ruled over Ancient Egypt. A portion of the pharaoh’s spirit called his ka was believed to remain with his corpse. Proper care of the remains was necessary in order for the “former Pharaoh to perform his new duties as king of the dead”. It is theorized the pyramid not only served as a tomb for the pharaoh but also as a storage pit for various items he would need in the afterlife. “The people of Ancient Egypt believed that death on Earth was the start of a journey to the next world.” The embalmed body of the King was entombed underneath or within the pyramid to protect it and allow his transformation and ascension to the afterlife.
The Giza pyramid complex at night
The sides of all three of the Giza pyramids were astronomically oriented to the north-south and east-west within a small fraction of a degree. Among recent attempts to explain such a clearly deliberate pattern are those of S. Haack, O. Neugebauer, K. Spence, D. Rawlins, K. Pickering, and J. Belmonte. The arrangement of the pyramids is a representation of the Orion constellation according to the disputed Orion correlation theory.
there are special organized tours to the area