Pyramid of Giza, Giza also spelt Gizeh, three 4th-dynasty pyramids erected on a rocky plateau on the west bank of the Nile River near Al-Jīzah (Giza) in northern Egypt. In ancient times they were included among the Seven Wonders of the World. The ancient ruins of the Memphis area, including the Pyramids of Giza, Ṣaqqārah, Dahshūr, Abū Ruwaysh, and Abū Ṣīr, were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
The ancient engineering feats at Giza were so impressive that even today scientists can’t be sure how the pyramids were built. Yet they have learned much about the people who built them and the political power necessary to make it happen.
The builders were skilled, well-fed Egyptian workers who lived in a nearby temporary city. Archaeological digs on the fascinating site have revealed a highly organized community, rich with resources, that must have been backed by a strong central authority.
It’s likely that communities across Egypt contributed workers, as well as food and other essentials, for what became in some ways a national project to display the wealth and control of the ancient pharaohs.
Such revelations have led Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, to note that in one sense it was the Pyramids that built Egypt — rather than the other way around.
Construction of the Pyramid
The first step in constructing a pyramid, after deciding upon the best location, was organizing the crews and allocating resources and this was the job of the second-most powerful man in Egypt, the vizier. Khufu’s vizier was Hemiunu, his nephew, credited with the design and building of the Great Pyramid. Hemiunu’s father, Nefermaat (Khufu’s brother) had been Sneferu’s vizier in his pyramid-building projects and it is probable he learned a great deal about construction from these experiences.