History : Jan-Feb 2017
of seeing the Pyramids at Giza in person today. They are so iconic, so astonishingly ancient, that it is hard to imagine that 4,600 years ago the plateau where they stand was a desolate, dune- covered wilderness where a scattering of tombs lay under the burning Egyptian sun. Along with the enigmatic Sphinx and other smaller tombs and monuments, Giza has three principal pyr- amids: Khufu (originally 481 feet high, and sometimes called Cheops, or the Great Pyra- mid); Khafre (471 feet); and Menkaure (213 feet). Emerging out of the complex dynastic needs of Egypt’s 4th dynasty, they are the triumphant product of one of the most daring and innovative engineering projects the world has ever known. A melia Blanford Edwards was one of a stream of European travelers drawn to see the wonders of Egypt at the close of the 19th century. In her 1877 book, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, she writes of the hot drive to the edge of the desert, until “the Great Pyramid, in all its unexpected bulk and majesty, tow- ers close above one’s head . . . The effect is as sudden as it is overwhelming. It shuts out the sky and the horizon. It shuts out all the other Pyramids. It shuts out everything but the sense of awe and wonder.” Most modern travelers would probably reach for similar words to pinpoint the sublime thrill FATHERS AND SONS FAMILY TIES The pharaoh’s relatives, such as Nefertiabet, Khufu’s daughter—depicted on this relief (left) found in her tomb in Giza—were buried beside the sovereign’s pyramid. WERNER FORMAN/GTRES 24 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 KHUFU, second king of Egypt’s 4th dynasty, begins work on his pyramid. When complete, the massive tomb will measure 481 feet high, the biggest pyramid ever. circa 2550 b.c. REDJEDEF, Khufu’s son, holds power for only a few years. He commissions a pyramid north of Giza at Abu Ruwaysh, but the structure is never finished. circa 2530 b.c. KHAFRE, another son of Khufu, commissions the second pyramid at Giza. Although it is slightly smaller than Khufu’s, it sits on higher ground, making it look taller. circa 2520 b.c.
March April 2017