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Decipher ancient Egyptian ruins, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx

Decoding the ancient monuments of Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza and the sphinx - Photo 1.

The exact year in which they were built is somewhat unclear, as those dates depend on the exact time the pharaohs who built them reigned, which is a subject of debate among scholars. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art dates back to Khufu’s reign. 2551–2528 BC, Khafre was a singer. 2520–2494 BC and Menkaure is ca. 2490–2472 BC However, different sources and scholars have different estimates of how long each pharaoh reigned.

How these pyramids were built is also a source of speculation and debate. Many researchers believe that a ramp system of some kind was used to move blocks into place during construction. When the pyramids were completed, they were completely or partially covered with white limestone, most of which have disappeared today.

The study found that, when rocks were moved across the desert, a small amount of water was poured into the sand in front of them, helping them move more easily. In 2018, researchers found a 4,500-year-old block of rock in a quarry in the eastern desert that may have been used to help move the blocks up a ramp. The building has a central ramp, flanked by stairs with many buttresses in them. A similar tool may have been used at Giza, the researchers say.

In addition, archaeologists have found evidence that Giza had a bustling harbor, allowing goods to be transported to the site from across ancient Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. The researchers found the goods brought in included limestone from Tura (a town in Egypt) and cedar wood from Lebanon.

Despite the differences between the three pyramids (Khufu’s pyramid, the “Great Pyramid”, having a mass several times that of Menkaure), the southeastern vertices of each align with each other almost exactly. Each pyramid has a mortuary and temple in the valley, with a causeway connecting them. They also have smaller pyramids known as satellites or queen pyramids.

The Sphinx, a mysterious monument often associated with King Khafre, stands guard near his valley temple. To the south of the Sphinx is the “Wall of the Crows”, 656 feet (200m) long and 32 feet (10m) thick.

South of the wall is a settlement that archaeologists sometimes refer to as the “lost city.” The city had barracks that could have been used by troops. Archaeologists have discovered a mansion in the city that was supposed to be used by high-ranking officials. The pyramid workers may have lived in simpler houses within the pyramids.

Vast cemeteries have also been found next to the Giza pyramids that have been in use for thousands of years – long after the construction of the pyramids ended. Some of the tombs are used by members of the royal family and high-ranking officials.

In 2018, archaeologists said they had found the 4,300-year-old tomb of a female official. The tomb has murals depicting hunting and fishing scenes, musical and dance performances, and a pair of monkeys, one of which is dancing in front of an orchestra.

Pyramid of Khufu

When it was completed by Khufu, the Great Pyramid was 146 m high. Today, with the loss of some of the stones, the pyramid is slightly shorter, measuring 455 feet (138 m). It was the tallest building in the world until 1311, when the central tower of Lincoln Cathedral was completed in England.

The Great Pyramid is slightly lopsided with the western edge being slightly longer than the eastern side. In 2016, calculations by engineer Glen Dash and Egyptologist Mark Lehner showed that the eastern slope was initially between 755,561 and 755,817 feet (230,295 to 230,373 m) while the western slope was between 755,833 and 756,024 feet. (230,378 to 230,436 m).

Khufu’s pyramid has three compartments. A large gallery led to the king’s chamber, a red granite chamber containing a now-empty royal sarcophagus. The king’s chamber was guarded by a rudimentary machine that dropped huge blocks of stone in front of the room to protect it from grave robbers. Finally, at some point in antiquity, people managed to get into the chamber and rob it.

In the center of the pyramid is the so-called queen’s chamber, although it may have never housed a queen. Beneath the pyramid is an underground chamber, the purpose of which, like the queen’s chamber, is a mystery.


All three pyramids of Giza have mortuary temples connected to the temples of the valley via a causeway. However, in the case of Khafre’s pyramid, his valley temple also had a mysterious monument nearby called the Sphinx with an incomplete temple dedicated to it.

The Sphinx is a 74-meter-long monument carved in the limestone of the Giza Plateau. It has the face of a man and the body of a lion. The mythical creature is seen in art throughout the ancient Middle East, as well as in India and Greece. At the spring equinox, the sun sets on the shoulders of the sphinx.

The Greek word “sphinx” can mean “strangler” or “to be tightened,” Carolina Lopez Ruiz, a professor of classics at Ohio State University, wrote in a book. The face of the Colossus of Giza may have been based on Khafre’s face. Efforts to preserve and restore the Sphinx date back at least 3,400 years.


The simplest explanation for the use of pyramids is the burial place of kings; The discovery of a coffin in all three pyramids supported this idea. The pyramid complexes, and the grave goods that once housed within them, helped the king get into the afterlife.

Verner writes in his book: “The pyramid is said to be the abode of the pharaoh – unshakable, indestructible, eternal”. He noted that nearby temple buildings “are dedicated to the worship of the deceased, which is also said to last forever…”

Interestingly, Giza’s spiritual importance seems to span the ages. In late 2010, archaeologists announced the discovery of the remains of about 400 malnourished people, buried with few graves, near the Wall of the Crow. They date from 2,700 to 2,000 years ago, two millennia after the pyramids were built, their burial location indicating their desire to be near Giza.

According to Live Science

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