Great Pyramid

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cid_2203726.150.jpg Great Pyramid of Khufu
Designer unknown
Location El Giza, Egypt
Date -2600 to -2480
Building Type pyramid tomb, monument
Climate desert
Context rural
Architectural Style Ancient Egyptian, Fourth Dynasty
Street Address
Notes "Pyramid of Cheops" or "Khufu's Pyramid", near Cairo, the farthest north and east of the famous trio, often the pyramid in back in the classic picture. Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only the Great Pyramid remains today.
At Great Buildings





"The pyramids at Giza—descendants of primitive 'stepped' prototypes built in superimposed layers—are gigantic prisms unique in world architecture, mathematics at an ultimate scale. It is quite possible that Cheop's Great Pyramid consumed more dressed stone blocks than any structure ever built, an estimated 2,300,000 of them, averaging 2.5 tons each. It is generally thought that the blocks were moved on log rollers and sledges and then ramped into place."

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p8.

"The Pyramids of Giza, the oldest and only Ancient Wonder still standing, are testimony to perfection in art and design, never subsequently achieved. They were built by planners and engineers purely to serve their earthy rulers - who were also their gods. Philosophy did not exist at this time, and creation was not subject to any questioning. The pyramids are the purest of constructions, built for eternity." —


Khufu or Cheop's Great Pyramid is 756 feet (241 meters) square in plan, and 481 feet (153 meters) high. The angle of inclination of the triangular faces is about 51.5 degrees. The square of its height equals the area of each triangular face, as determined by Herodotus in 450 B. C. The base of the pyramid covers about 13 acres.

The other two pyramids in the famous trio are Khafre, 704 feet (214.5 meters) square, 471 feet (143.5 meters) high, with a face inclination of 53.2 degrees, and Menkaure, 345.5 feet (110 meters) square, 216 feet (68.8 meters) high, with a face inclination of 51.3 degrees (or possibly 330ft wide and 206 ft high (105m x 65.5m)).

For ease of modeling the pyramids, it may be useful to also know the triangular face height for each as measured along the surface instead of vertically. According to trigonometry, these surface face heights are: Khufu, 612 feet (195 meters); Khafre, 588 feet (179 meters); Menkaure, 276.6 feet (88 meters) (or possibly 263.6 feet (84m)).



Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. site plan drawing, p11. section drawing, p12.

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. unit to whole diagram, p161.— Updated edition available at

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. section, p56.— A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at

Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection.PCD.2260.1012.1537.091. PCD.2260.1012.1537.090. PCD.2260.1012.1537.085. PCD.2260.1012.1537.086. PCD.2260.1012.1537.089. PCD.2260.1012.1537.088. PCD.2260.1012.1537.087

Great Cities of the Ancient World: The Pyramids and the Cities of the Pharaohs. Video, 1994. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN 6303298605.— Video - Available at

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. photo, p9. discussion, p8. — Available at

Seton Lloyd, Hans Wolfgang Muller, Roland Martin. Ancient Architecture, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, Greece. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1972. photo from the east showing pyramids of Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus, f158, p91.

Elizabeth Mann, Laura Lo Turco (Illustrator). The Great Pyramid (Wonders of the World). Mikaya Press, October 1996. ISBN 0965049310. Reading level: Ages 9-12. — A highly regarded children's author, 48 pages, highly illustrated. Available at

David Macaulay. Pyramid. PBS Home Video, 1988. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN B00000FAHI.— Video - Available at

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 1990. VHS-NTSC format video tape. ISBN 6301687620.— Video - Available at

W. Stevenson Smith. The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt. edited by Nikolaus Pevsner. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1958. interior photo of Gallery, plate 27A.

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. plan drawing of the raised temple, p24. axonometric section drawing of the great corbelled gallery , p24. section drawing of pyramid, p24. site plan drawing, p24.

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