The Pyramids at Giza c. 2520 BCE


Map Code: Ax00608

The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt were not just all powerful temporal rulers, they expected to become gods in the afterlife and constructed massive funerary monuments, filled with all the everyday objects they could possibly need, to serve them in the next world. The first pyramid at Giza, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World, belonged to the Pharaoh Khufu, and was begun in about 2560 BCE; it took between 10–20 years to construct. This great monument reaches a towering 481 ft (147 m) and is built of an estimated 2.3 million blocks. The pyramid of his son, Khafre, is smaller, but is distinguished by the enigmatic statue of the sphinx, possibly an imposing sentinel for the entire complex. The smallest pyramid of Menkaure, the last to be built, was added last, possibly around 2490 BCE. Each pyramid stands in the midst of an extensive mortuary complex, composed of smaller pyramids for family members, temples, causeways, and boat pits. These extraordinary monuments were built by thousands of skilled labourers who lived nearby in a temporary workers’ town. The sheer scale of the complex, and the organizational complexity that must have been required to plan and build these monuments, is a testament to the wealth and sophistication of Egyptian society in the Old Kingdom.

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