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The Giza pyramid complex (Arabic: أهرامات الجيزة, IPA: [ʔɑhɾɑˈmɑːt elˈɡiːzæ], “pyramids of Giza”) is an archaeological site on the Giza Plateau, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt.
This complex of ancient monuments includes the three pyramid complexes known as the Great Pyramids, the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, several cemeteries, a workers’ village and an industrial complex. It is located in the Libyan Desert, approximately 9 km (5 mi) west of the Nile river at the old town of Giza and about 13 km (8 mi) southwest of Cairo city centre.
The pyramids, which have historically loomed large as emblems of ancient Egypt in the Western imagination, were popularised 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.
The Pyramids of Giza consist of the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or Khufu and constructed c. 2560–2540 BC), 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. 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.
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.
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’s theorized the pyramid not only served as a tomb for the Pharaoh, but also as storage for the 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.
2620 B.C. - 2500 B.C.
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