The legendary Great Pyramid of Giza is among the world’s most famous landmarks. Located in the ancient Egyptian royal mortuary – which contains the Great Sphinx of Giza, and other pyramids and temples, the Great Pyramid of Giza towers over the surrounding desert. When it was built it was about 481 feet high. Because of erosion, it now stands about 450 feet high. It is the last of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Archaeologists believe the Great Pyramid of Giza was built by the pharoah Khufu over a 20 year period. It was completed sometime around 2560 B.C. Researchers differ in their opinions concerning how many men it took the build the pyramid. Estimates range from 20,000 to 300,000. Over 2.4 million stone blocks were required to build the pyramid. Each block weighed about 3,000 – 4,000 pounds!
Pyramids were built in ancient Egypt to house the mummified bodies of deceased pharoahs and their families. Each pyramid site is actually a massive complex featuring cemeteries, causeways, smaller pyramids and funerary temples. The inside of each pyramid is filled with narrow passages, false burial chambers (to discourage tomb robbers) and several chambers which housed the pharoah’s body and his possessions. It was thought that the pharoah would need all of his possessions for passage into the next life.
The Sphinx is an ancient Egyptian icon, with the head of a pharoah and the body of a lion. The name Sphinx means "father of terror" in Arabic. The most famous Sphinx is located at Giza, near the west bank of the Nile River.The face is believed to be the Pharoah Khafra. It was built as an illustration of royal power. In ancient Greece, only animals and pharoahs could be depicted in such a way. Experts belive the Sphinx at Giza was built about 2500 BC. It is 260 feet long and 65 feet tall at the head. The Great Sphinx of Giza is the world’s largest statue. Today, The Great Sphinx is eroding because of wind, water, and smog damage. Restoration efforts thus far have only made the problem worse.
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings is the name given to the region in which pharoahs were buried from the 18th through 20th dynasties. It was used primarily between 1500 and 1000 BC.
The Valley contains 60 tombs and features the tomb of Ramesses X and King Tutankhamen (King Tut). The tombs were very elaborate, and such kings were mummified and laid to rest in sarcophagi – ornate, stone body containers. Most of the tombs have been ramsacked by grave robbers. The tomb of King Tut was the only to elude the grave robbers, and is considered one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century.
Karnak Temple, the principal attraction in the village of Al-Karnak (which is within the larger city of Luxor), is a huge open-air museum that features the world’s largest ancient religious site. The Karnak Temple was essentially the spiritual center of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. It is divided into four parts, of which, only one is accessible to the public. Construction on the monument began as early as 1600 BC, and continued for hundreds of years over the reigns of up to 30 pharaohs.
The section open to the public is known as the Precinct of Amun-Re. Amun-Re was the God of Life, and the most important God in ancient Thebes. The Precinct of Amon-Re is a huge complex that features hundreds of structures and many pylons, (gateways), obelisk monuments, and temples.
Near Al-Karnak, in the city of Luxor, is the Luxor Temple, a large Egyptian temple complex dedicated to the Theban Triad (the three main Gods of Thebes) Amun-Re, Mut, and Chons. Today, the village of Al-Karnak is a UNESCO world Heritage Site.