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The Giza Plateau:

Necropolis from a Golden Age


Situated west of the Nile, bordering the Sahara Desert, the Giza plateau rises up in its glory to present its full authority. It is here that an ancient King coordinated a mammoth undertaking exploiting the full value of the looming plateau. Eternal life would surely be granted with the precision and meticulous execution of King Khufu's perfect pyramid. Other pyramids had been built before, but none would ever achieve the genius, grace and competence of this Great Pyramid. Still standing today, it stands a silent witness to the events that immediately followed the kings decision to build his pyramid on this site. Strangely, Khufu decided to build his pyramid just to one side of the highest ground on the plateau. Perhaps this section would require less work to lay the foundation, over 9 acres, of the pyramid. We can begin to surmise how the pyramid was built by the abundant evidence at the site. A project of this magnitude would require people, housing, food and tools. Traces of all of this have been found, and a small village has been excavated that would be sufficient to house the appropriate number of people necessary to build the largest pyramid. The graffiti of the original work gangs are scrawled across the upper most chambers, chambers that were never meant to be entered, which may have only been included to relieve the tremendous weight upon the main chamber.

Following the lead of Khufu, two of his successors also built their pyramids on the plateau. His son, Khafre, exploited the higher ground, and was able to achieve the illusion of his pyramid as being the tallest. In actuality, his pyramid was shorter than Khufu's. Khafre is assumed to have been responsible for carving the Great Sphinx which is aligned to his pyramid. The smallest pyramid, that of Menkaura, was the final attempt to pyramid the plateau. Menkaura's pyramid also suffered the fate of other pyramids and tombs throughout Egyptian history, the king died before his tomb was finished.


The Great Pyramid The Great Pyramid - The first stop on our tour of the Giza plateau is the Great Pyramid of the 4th Dynasty King, Khufu. It was the first pyramid constructed on the plateau and many consider that it represents the pinnacle of the pyramid age. This pyramid contains ascending chambers and passageways not found in any other pyramids. This is how it appears from the south face. On the bottom right hand side is a special museum which contains a 5000 year old boat which we will also explore in another section. We will also enter this pyramid and explore its unique internal arrangement.


The Pyramid of Khafre The Pyramid of Khafre - Our next stop is the Pyramid of Khafre. Khafre was a son of Khufu and his is the second largest known pyramid in Egypt, only approximately 10 meters shorter that the Great Pyramid. This is how the pyramid appears from its eastern face with several tombs in the foreground. Remnants of its original casing are still apparent at the top of the structure. Although this pyramid boasts two entrances, only one is open and it is through this opening that we will explore the interior of this marvelous edifice to Khafre.


The Pyramid of Menkaura The Pyramid of Menkaura - Next stop, the Pyramid of Menkaura, son of Khafre. Although much smaller than the other two pyramids on the plateau, the lower courses were originally encased in granite. It has three subsidiary pyramids and some of its Mortuary temple remains intact. We will enter this pyramid and see its unique layout, which included a room possibly for the burial of some of the king's family as well as the king himself.


The Great Sphinx The Great Sphinx - The famous Sphinx of Egypt is a site to behold. The head of a king, body of a lion, this colossus is carved out of the very bedrock in which it sits. Recently restored, you can see it up close and personal and explore its mysterious presence. You'll see all sides of the Sphinx and even between the paws.

 


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