Giza Necropolis Facts, Pyramid & Sphinx

Posted On : 09/02/2023 Kate Clark 50
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Giza Necropolis Facts

The Giza necropolis extends over a large area of the Giza plateau, located 25 km south of Cairo , the Egyptian capital. Giza is precisely the name of the suburban city where the plateau is located, in the homonymous plain a few kilometers from the capital, on the left bank of the Nile .

This complex of monuments constitutes the most famous image of Egypt in the world. In fact, in the area that borders the necropolis there are some of the most famous testimonies of the civilization of Ancient Egypt.

The Sphinx , behind which stand the three most famous great pyramids of Giza, the pyramid of Cheops (or Great Pyramid, the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world to have remained intact to this day), the northernmost, the pyramid of Khafra, in Italian known as Chefren which is the intermediate one and the pyramid of Menkaure, the one located further south, famous for Italians as the pyramid of Mycerinus.

Not everyone knows that the perfect pyramid shape is attributed to the cult of the Sun, for which the edges of the pyramid would represent the sun's rays, and the pyramid itself is the means to ascend to heaven.


The Giza necropolis in Egypt

To these three main constructions are added various satellite constructions including the minor pyramids, dedicated to the consorts, numerous cemeteries, mastabas and private tombs, burials of high officials and secondary members of the various royal families. Among the discoveries of more recent times, the "Village of the Artisans" was found in the same plain, the real proponents of the pyramids, and of the necropolis dedicated to them.

This village is located southeast of the two pyramid tombs of Chephren and Mycerinus . Observing the area from above one might think that only the northern part of the plateau is occupied by old buildings, but in reality it is only an impression due to the enormous size of the three pyramids. The graves have been found further west and the workers' village and their cemeteries extend the necropolis much further south than it appears.


The ancient history of the Giza necropolis

Each dynasty created a necropolis, during the Old Empire, many dynasties used the same necropolis, but it is a rather rare phenomenon. The pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty were buried in Giza, while those of the First and Second Dynasties were buried in the Umm al-Qa'ab necropolis in Abydos. Those of the Third Dynasty were in Saqqara .

The pharaohs of the fifth and sixth dynasties were buried at Abousir, north of Saqqara. But in reality there is no rule, for example the necropolis of Saqqara has been used since the first dynasty and throughout the old empire.

If we consider the use that was made of the necropolis during its golden period, i.e. during the IV dynasty (between about 2550 and 2450), we observe that each tomb is made up of various elements: the pyramid which from a tomb, a wall to protect the pyramid, a temple above, near the pyramid, a pavement, a temple below, minor buildings linked to the pyramids, one or more cemeteries.


Pyramids of Egypt

Furthermore, it is thought that the pyramids of Cheops and Khafre were accompanied by pits containing (or presumably containing) a wooden burial boat.

Everyone knows the Sphinx, this fascinating mythological figure, it is a monumental sculpture dating back to the mid-26th century BC It is attributed to the pharaoh Khafra (Chefren), to whom we also owe the second pyramid. The Sphinx is not just a statue, it is also a temple which has similarities to that of Khafra. 

For a long time there has been discussion and is still discussing the question of the human features of the Sphinx, a figure with a lion's body and a human face. It is not possible to establish precisely whether the face represented Khufu (Cheops) or Khafra (Chephren).

It's not easy to answer, in fact it's probably not really possible, even nowadays scientists have differing opinions, even if most of them espouse the version that it was Khafra. Those in favor of Khufu point to the absence of a false beard, an important attribute of the other pharaoh.

Those who instead argue that the Sphinx depicts Chephren, point out that this attribute was recent, it is not inconceivable that it appeared only after the creation of the Sphinx.


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By Kate Clark

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