Michael A. Stecker

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Egypt 1985

The Great Pyramids of Giza
"From atop these pyramids, forty centuries look down upon you."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte to his soldiers before the Battle of Giza, 1798 --

Though the three Great Pyramids are the most famous and prominent monuments at Giza, the site has actually been a necropolis almost since the beginning of the pharaonic era. But it was the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops -- 2589 - 2566 BC) who placed Giza forever at the heart of Egyptian (and global) wonders. His pyramid is the largest of all the pyramids in the world. To the southwest is the pyramid of his son Khephren (Chephren or Khafre). Although it is smaller, a steeper angle results in the illusion that they are nearly same size. As the Khephren pyramid occupies the central point, it is frequently misreferred to as the Great Pyramid. Also, unlike the other Giza Pyramids, it still has some smooth intact casing stone at its apex. Still further southwest is the smallest of the three, the pyramid of Khephren's son Menkaure. It is also the most unusual, because it is not entirely limestone like the others. The uppermost portions are brick. All three pyramids stand empty and were probably plundered by thieves and/or political dissidents. However, large funerary barges have been excavated nearby.

Giza can be subdivided into two groupings of monuments, clearly defined and separated by a wadi. The larger grouping consists of the three "Great" pyramids of Khufu, Khephren, and Menkaure; the Sphinx, the pyramids of the queens, attendant temples and outbuildings, and the private mastabas of the nobility. The second grouping, located on the ridge to the southeast, contains a number of private tombs of citizens of various classes. While the majority of the monuments of the larger grouping are made from limestone that was quarried and transported to the site, the tombs of the smaller grouping are simply carved out of the native living rock.


Please mouse click on any of the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement
(all photos from my 1985 trip)