Khufu, or Cheops in greek, was the son of King Sneferu and Queen Hetpeheres. His pyramid was the first of the the three great pyramids to be built and is considered The Great Pyramid. It remained the world’s tallest building until the beginning of the 20th Century and was amazingly built in less than 20 years.
Dates Built: ca. 2589-2566 B.C.E.
Base: originally 754 ft. on each side, 13 sq. acres or 7 city blocks
Average Weight of Individual Blocks: 2.5 tons, the largest were 9 tons
Original Height: 481 feet
Made of: Limestone and granite
An inside view of Khufu’s pyramid.
Khafre, also known as Chephren or Rakfaef, was the son of Khufu. His pyramid is the second largest pyramid and its complex includes the Sphinx, a Mortuary Temple, and a Valley Temple. Khafre’s pyramid is the only pyramid at Giza to have any of the outer casing stones remaining.
The Sphinx was built by King Khafre and it is his head that is believed to be the head of a pharaoh that was built on the lion body. This structure is supposedly the guardian spirit for the entire burial complex of Khafre. It was built out of the soft limestone found at Giza and is not known to have any inner chambers like the pyramids. Unfortunately, portions of the Sphinx have disintegrated over time, some pieces even dropping off to the ground below. The date it was built is undetermined.
Map of the Sphinx at Giza
Menkaure, or Mycerinus in greek, is believed to be Khufu’s grandson. His pyramid is the smallest of the three great pyramids at Giza.
Made of: Limestone and red granite, the sarcophagus is made of basalt
And inside view of Menkaure’s pyramid
In Greek, “nelios” means “river valley,” which describes the Nile well because the Nile delta represents 63% of the inhabited area of Egypt. At about 4,000 miles long, the Niles is the longest river in the world. It flows in a northern direction from East Africa to the Mediterranean. This direction of flow is contrary to most rivers and when traveling, ancient Egyptians would comment on the “wrong” direction of flow of the rivers in other lands. As its sources, the Nile has the Blue Nile, the White Nile and the Arbara and contains a series of six cataracts, which act as a natural boundary. Historically, these cataracts are important because they helped to protect Egypt from invasion from the south.
Every year, the Nile flooded between the months of June and September due to monsoon rains in Ethiopia. The ancient Egyptians based their seasons of this cycle of flooding. The three seasons were akhet, Inundation, peret, the growing season, and shemu, the drought or harvest season. It was during Inundation that 4 million tons of fertile sediment was deposited in the river valley by the floodwaters, helping Egypt become the prosperous society that it was.