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Giza

Giza


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Giza or ‘Al Giza’ is a tourist hotspot and the site of some of Ancient Egypt’s most famous landmarks, including the largest pyramid on Earth.

Giza is home to the pyramids of kings Khufu, Khafra and Menkaure. The largest pyramid in Giza, and in the world, belongs to the second king of the Fourth Dynasty, Khufu or “Cheop”.

Khufu’s pyramid is Giza’s oldest and, at its great size of 145 metres, became known as “The Great Pyramid”. In fact, Khufu’s pyramid was once the tallest structure in the world as well as being one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The second largest pyramid in Giza belongs to Khufu’s son and fourth king of the Fourth Dynasty, Khafra (or Khephren). In fact, the elevation on which Khafra’s pyramid is built is deceptive, making it appear larger that his father’s.

The smallest of these three kings’ pyramids belongs to the sixth king of the Fourth Dynasty, Menkaure and is one tenth the size of Khafre’s.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Giza is also where one finds the Great Sphinx. Estimated to date back to 2528–2520 BC, some Egyptologists believe that this majestic half man, half lion is modeled on Khafra.

Several other tombs and Queens’ pyramids pepper Giza’s landscape, some of which are open to the public, most notably, the tomb of Seshem-nefer IV. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Egypt.


Great Sphinx of Giza

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Great Sphinx of Giza, colossal limestone statue of a recumbent sphinx located in Giza, Egypt, that likely dates from the reign of King Khafre (c. 2575–c. 2465 bce ) and depicts his face. It is one of Egypt’s most famous landmarks and is arguably the best-known example of sphinx art.

The Great Sphinx is among the world’s largest sculptures, measuring some 240 feet (73 metres) long and 66 feet (20 metres) high. It features a lion’s body and a human head adorned with a royal headdress. The statue was carved from a single piece of limestone, and pigment residue suggests that the entire Great Sphinx was painted. According to some estimates, it would have taken about three years for 100 workers, using stone hammers and copper chisels, to finish the statue.

Most scholars date the Great Sphinx to the 4th dynasty and affix ownership to Khafre. However, some believe that it was built by Khafre’s older brother Redjedef (Djedefre) to commemorate their father, Khufu, whose pyramid at Giza is known as the Great Pyramid. These theorists claim that the face of the Great Sphinx bears more resemblance to Khufu than Khafre, and that observation also led to speculation that Khufu himself built the statue.

The Great Sphinx has greatly deteriorated over the years, and since ancient times—possibly beginning in the reign of Thutmose IV (1400–1390 bce )—various efforts have been undertaken to preserve the statue. Whereas the body has suffered the most erosion, the face has also been damaged, and its nose is notably missing. According to some, the damage was caused by Napoleon’s troops, who shot off the nose with a cannon. However, illustrations that date before Napoleon reveal a noseless sphinx. Another theory contends that Muhammad Saʾim al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim, mutilated the statue in the 14th century to protest idolatry.


The Great History of Giza

The history of Giza goes back to the 2nd millennium BC where Giza served as the necropolis of several Pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt that came in the shape of great constructions like the great pyramids of Giza located near Memphis. The city came under a number of conquests by the Persians, Romans, and Byzantines which changed and added a great deal of history and important to the city. ÷n 639 AD, Egypt became under the Islamic caliphate and in the same year the city of Giza was founded which means” The Valley” or “The Plateau“.


2. The other two pyramids are for Khufu’s son and grandson

In order from left: the Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu, with the queens' pyramids in the foreground. Image credit: WitR/Shutterstock

The Great Pyramid is just one of the three major pyramids in Giza. The second-oldest one is the Pyramid of Khafre which was built as a tomb for Khafre, Khufu’s son. It is the second-tallest pyramid in Giza. Khafre ascended to the throne after the short-lived reign of Redjedef, who was likely his older brother and was Khufu’s successor. He reigned from approximately 2558 to 2532 BCE, but the exact timeline has never been established.

The third and the smallest pyramid is the Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre’s son. It is not totally clear, but he most likely succeeded his father as king and reigned for 18 or 28 years. It was unfinished at his death, but his successor Shepseskaf had the mortuary temple finished. Important sculptures were found in the tomb.


A History of the Great Sphinx of Giza

When the ancients first came into the contact with this statue, a massive creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man they called it a Sphinx. In Greek mythology a sphinx is a winged creature with the body of a lion and the head of a woman. Gender differences withstanding the name Sphinx has been applied to the lion-man statue at Giza and to all similar statues found in Egypt.

What name the Egyptians originally gave the Sphinx is unknown. The earliest Egyptian writings mentioning the Sphinx come from almost a millennium after its original building and refer to it by several names: Hor-em-akht (Horus in the Horizon), Bw-How (Place of Horus) and Ra-horakhty (Ra of Two Horizons).

No other sphinx statue found in Egypt is either as old or as large as the Great Sphinx of Giza. It stands 65 feet tall, 20 feet wide and an astounding 260 feet long. Estimates of its weight (not precisely known) range upwards of 200 tons, making it one of the largest single stone sculptures in the world.

Origins of the Great Sphinx of Giza

Who Built the Great Sphinx?

Most dates for the Great Sphinx of Giza place the time of its building during the 4th Dynasty of Egypt in the 3rd millennium BCE. It is believed by most that the sphinx was built by the pharaoh Khafre, and that the face seen on the Sphinx is carved in his image.

Some have argued that the Sphinx was actually built by Khafre’s father Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, largest pyramid of the world. More recently there has been speculation and some evidence that the statue was actually built by Khafre’s nephew, a lesser known pharaoh by the name of Djedefre. As of yet there has been no conclusive evidence found to prove once and for all who built the Great Sphinx or whose image is recorded in the face.

How was the Great Sphinx Built?

Although we refer to the building of the Great Sphinx the word “build” is somewhat of a misnomer. The Great Sphinx was not actually built but carved straight into the limestone bedrock on which it stands. Limestone was removed from the area block by block until only a single very large block was left, from which the Great Sphinx was carved.

The surrounding blocks of limestone were used in various construction projects around the Giza plateau. The limestone surrounding the head was stronger and more solid and most likely went into building the pyramids. The lower, softer limestone surrounding the body of the Sphinx most likely was used in building the two temples that lay directly in front of the Sphinx.

History of the Great Sphinx of Giza

For all its glory the history of the Great Sphinx has been that of a forgotten and neglected monument. From the time of its original carving it has spent most of its life buried to the neck by sand.

The first restoration of the Sphinx came about 1400 BCE. The pharaoh Thutmose IV, sleeping beneath the head of the statue, was told in a dream to dig up the body of the Sphinx. In reward he was told he would be made a great king. Thutmose immediately began digging up the Great Sphinx, restoring it to its former glory. He also left evidence of this activity in what is called the Dream Stele, locating between the Sphinx’s paws.

Despite Thutmose’s restoration the Sphinx was once again neglected and buried by sand. Although travelers from across the world saw the face of the Sphinx, it was not until the turn of the 20th century that the statue would once again be uncovered and restored, a process that took decades to complete.

The Sphinx’s Missing Nose

One of the most notorious features of the Great Sphinx is its missing nose. Many interesting theories have been brought forward to explain its disappearance. One tale has it that the nose was blown off by a cannon fired by one of Napoleon’s soldiers during his Egyptian expedition.

Another popular tale is that the nose was accidentally blown off during target practice by Turkish Janissaries sometime during the Turks rule over Egypt. Neither of these stories appears to be true, however, as evidence has shown that the nose was missing long before either of these time periods.

An Egyptian historian by the name of al-Maqrizi, writing in about the 15th century, says that the nose was destroyed by a Sufi fanatic by the name of Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr. Enraged by the lifelike representation of a human face, something that is expressly forbidden by Islam, Sa’im al-Dahr ordered the nose removed.

Some evidence suggests that this may very well be the case, as it appears that two bars were inserted into the nose and used as levers to pull it off, most likely sometime between the 10th and 15th centuries. Al-Maqrizi dates the removal of the nose as 1378 CE.

Legacy of the Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza stands as one of the lasting symbols of Egypt from ancient times to the present day. It is almost synonymous with Egypt, along with the pyramids, and is one of its most recognizable symbols.

Although buried for millennia, it today is restored and preserved by Egypt, and is one of that country’s most popular tourist attractions. Despite its somewhat mysterious origins, it is a larger-than-life monument to the greatness of Egypt.


1) The Pyramids of Giza

A) The Giza site

The Giza Plateau is located on the left bank of the Nile and thus faces the ancient city of Cairo.

The Great Pyramids of Giza were built to be eternal. Given the condition of these gigantic tombs after 4500 years of good and loyal service, it is safe to say that this goal was achieved by the Egyptian builders of the ancient world.

B) The Pyramids of the Giza site

A) The Pyramid of Khufu

The pharaoh Khufu launched the first project for the pyramid of Giza around 2550 BC. Its "Great Pyramid" is the widest and highest of the site and rises 147 meters above ground level. The construction of this pyramid was made possible by the very long sixty-three year reign of the pharaoh Khufu.

B) The Pyramid of Khafre

The son of Khufu (the pharaoh Khafre ) built the second Pyramid at Giza around 2520 BC.

His work also included the Sphinx, the mysterious limestone monument with a lion's body (giving it superanimal strength) and a pharaoh's head (giving it superhuman intelligence). The role of the Great Sphinx is to be the guardian of all the pyramids of the site.

C) The Pyramid of Menkaure

Built by the pharaoh Menkaure around 2490 BC, the third of the Pyramids of Giza is considerably smaller than the first two.

By comparison, the Pyramid of Menkaure is only one-tenth the volume of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. This pyramid is reputed to be smaller than the other two because of the much shorter reign of its builder (according to some archaeological finds, Menkaure would have reigned only for 18 years).

D) The other mortuary monuments on the site

Being buried near the pharaoh was one of the highest honors a citizen of the Nile Valley could receive. Moreover, in the ancient Egyptian Empire, anyone who owned a tomb next to the pharaoh's eternal home reserved a special place for himself in the Afterlife.

Then, in addition to these major structures, several smaller pyramids belonging to queens of Egypt are arranged around the pyramids of their pharaohs.

A large cemetery of smaller tombs, known as mastabas (in Arabic, "mastab" in reference to their rectangular shape with a flat roof) is also present on the site.


5 facts about the Great Pyramid of Giza

Completed c2560 BC, the Great Pyramid stands at 147 metres tall and took over 20 years to build.

This meant it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for about 3,800 years.

It was finally outdone by Lincoln Cathedral in the 1300s.

How was the pyramid built?

It required 2.5 million stone blocks to be cut, moved and positioned.

Some of the stones are limestone quarried from near the site, but the larger granite stones came from Aswan, over 500 miles away.

The pyramids are aligned to the stars

The Great Pyramid – also named the Pyramid of Khufu after the fourth dynasty Pharaoh for whom it was built – sits alongside the pyramids of Menkaure and Khafre, and is perfectly aligned with the constellation of Orion.

What did the pyramids originally look like?

Although they are long gone, highly polished limestone blocks – known as casing stones – covered the surface of the Pyramid.

It is thought that a massive earthquake loosened many of the stones and they were taken away to build mosques in nearby Cairo.

The stones reflected the Sun’s light so well that the Egyptians called the Pyramid ‘Ikhet’, meaning the ‘Glorious Light’.

Were the pyramids built by the residents of Atlantis?

It was built by the people of Atlantis… or at least, that’s what German conspiracy theorists Stefan Erdmann and Dominique Goerlitz wanted you to think.

They were given access to the Great Pyramid in April 2013, which turned out to be quite a mistake.

The pair took specimens from cartouches in an attempt to prove Khufu took the credit for the structure when it was the people of Atlantis that built it.

They were arrested, along with their cameraman and several members of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry.


What Giza family records will you find?

There are 1,000 census records available for the last name Giza. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Giza census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 784 immigration records available for the last name Giza. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 777 military records available for the last name Giza. For the veterans among your Giza ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 1,000 census records available for the last name Giza. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Giza census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 784 immigration records available for the last name Giza. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 777 military records available for the last name Giza. For the veterans among your Giza ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


Pyramids of Giza Facts for Kids – Tallest Man-Made Structures in Ancient Times

T he ancient Pyramids of Giza or the Great Egyptian Pyramids are not only the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World—they are probably the only monuments to remain purely intact. There are three pyramids at Giza pyramid complex of which the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the biggest. Pyramids are believed to be built in about 10 – 20 years around 2,560 BC. The Giza Pyramids had long been admired as the tallest structures ever made by a man. The ancient name of the Pyramids was Khufu’s Horizon. We’ve compiled some of the most exciting Pyramids of Giza facts for kids. Perhaps it’s time to see many more interesting and fun facts about the Pyramids of Giza.

A magnificent view of the three Ancient Pyramids of Giza. Pyramid of Khufu (in the middle) is the biggest of all. Pyramids of Giza Facts for kids. Photo by: sculpies/Shutterstock.com


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