Giza is located slightly to the
South the entrance of the Delta, at the point where the river starts dividing
into several arms, on the West Bank of the Nile, to the West of Egypt's modern
day capital of Cairo. One of the northernmost cemeteries of the Memphite
Necropolis, it lies 8 km South of Abu Rawash and 17 km to the North of Saqqara.
Its most prominent monument, the
Great Pyramid of Kheops, was considered one of the seven wonders of the world.
Some 4500 years after it was built,
it still inspires its millions of visitotrs with awe and wonder. It can be seen
from Saladin's Citadel to the East of Cairo, and from as far South as Dashur,
the southermost cemetery of the Memphite Necropolis.
Royal activity at this site was
started by Kheops, the second king of the 4th Dynasty, and would be continued
by Kheops' son, Khefren and grandson Mykerinos. The last member of the royal
family of the 4th Dynasty to be buried at this site was Khentkaus I, assumed to
have been a daughter of Mykerinos and the wife of Userkaf, the founder of the
5th Dynasty, who would favour Saqqara for his funerary complex.
Two "private" cemeteries
grew to the East and West of Kheops' pyramids. The Eastern Cemetry mainly
mainly started out as a necropolis for some privileged members of the royal
family of the 4th Dynasty, but, along with the Western Cemetry, it would
continue to be used until the end of the Old Kingdom by the ruling elite.
The alignments of the three main
pyramids and their mortuary temples is quite unique.
The West side of the pyramids of
Kheops and Khefren align almost perfectly with the East faces of the mortuary
temples of Khefren and Mykerinos respectively. The South side of the pyramid of
Khefren, forms a straight line with the South side of the Sphinx and its temple.
But most interesting of all is the
fact that the Southeast corners (bottom right in the map above) of each of the
royal pyramids form one straight line, a diagonal running from the Northeast to
the Southwest. Because the pyramid of Mykerinos is smaller, this explains why
its centre is not aligned with the centres of the two greater pyramids. We can
only speculate as to the reasons for this amazing alignment, and even more so
at similar alignments in Abusir and Saqqara. Perhaps the Northeast diagonal was
intended to point to the sanctuary at Heliopolis, home of the solar cult.
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