It is the oldest monument on the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is also the only one left standing. It is a marvel of human engineering and construction, and its sheer size and scale rivals any structure built within the last few hundred years.
For nearly 4500 years, the extraordinary shape, impeccable geometry and sheer bulk of the Giza Pyramids have invited the obvious questions: ‘How were we built, and why?’. Centuries of research have given us parts of the answer. Built as massive tombs on the orders of the pharaohs, they were constructed by teams of workers tens-of-thousands strong. It’s construction, though, has always been the subject of much debate among scholars, because of its massive size and near-perfect proportions.
Pharaoh Khufu began the first Giza pyramid project, circa 2550 B.C. His Great Pyramid is the largest in Giza and towers some 481 feet (147 meters) above the plateau. Its estimated 2.3 million stone blocks each weigh an average of 2.5 to 15 tons.
Khufu’s son, Pharaoh Khafre, built the second pyramid at Giza, circa 2520 B.C. His necropolis also included the Sphinx, a mysterious limestone monument with the body of a lion and a pharaoh’s head.
The third of the Giza Pyramids is considerably smaller than the first two. Built by Pharaoh Menkaure circa 2490 B.C., it featured a much more complex mortuary temple.
Each massive pyramid is but one part of a larger complex, including a palace, temples, solar boat pits, and other features. Today they stand as an awe-inspiring tribute to the might, organization, and achievements of ancient Egypt.