The Pyramids of Menkaure, Khafra, and Khufu

The Pyramids of Menkaure, Khafra, and Khufu

Depicting from left to right: Pyramids of Menkaure (ca. 2533-2515 BCE), Khafra (ca. 2570-2544 BCE), and Khufu (ca. 2601-2528)

Movement Egyptian | Old Kingdom | 4th Dynasty

Dimensions height 215’, 448’, and 455’

Location Giza, Egypt

A few monumental shifts occurred in the design of funerary complexes from the 3rd to 4th dynasties; instead of utilizing a stepped shape with the buttressing technique, architects now utilized a layering technique, allowing them to apply a smooth outer casing to the sides. The sheer mass of these structures is also hard to miss —Khufu’s pyramid, for example, spans 13 acres at its base. A new grandeur not seen before in Egyptian architecture is expressed in these funerary structres—in addition to their polished limestone casings, each of these pyramids would have been topped with a gold cap at the time of its completion.

Each of the Great Pyramids were placed on the West bank of the Nile River on an East-West axis, as opposed to the Northern alignment of Djoser’s pyramid—this may be a result of the pharos now taking the name of the “Son of Ra,” the Sun God. Also unlike Djoser’s complex, there lacks a representation of the kings’ palace from when he was alive, perhaps implying that he was no longer responsible for earthly duties in the afterlife. Each pyramid had its own separate system of a valley temple, causeway and funerary temple that would have been used in the procession and preparation of the each king’s body.