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The first, and largest, the pyramid at Giza was built by the pharaoh Khufu (reign started around 2551 B.C.). His pyramid, which today stands 455 feet (138 meters) tall, is understood because the “Great Pyramid” and was considered to be a wonder of the planet by ancient writers.

The monument of Khafre (reign began approximately 2520 B.C.) held only slightly more petite than Khufu’s but stood on a higher spot. Many scholars believe that the Sphinx monument, which lies near Khafre’s pyramid, was built by Khafre, which the face of the Sphinx was modeled after him. The third pharaoh to create a pyramid at Giza was Menkaure (reign started around 2490 B.C.), who opted for a smaller pyramid that stood 215 feet (65 m) high.

Over the past 20 years, researchers have made a variety of discoveries associated with the pyramids, including a town built near the pyramid of Menkaure, a study showing how water can make blocks easier to maneuver and a papyrus found by the Red Sea. These have allowed researchers to realize a far better understanding of how the Giza pyramids were built. The new finds increase older knowledge gained over the last two centuries.

The techniques wont to build the Giza pyramids were developed over a period of centuries, with all of the issues and setbacks that any modern-day scientist or engineer would face.

Pyramids originated from simple rectangular “mastaba” tombs that were being constructed in Egypt over 5,000 years ago, consistent with finds made by archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie. A principal advance happened during the reign of the pharaoh Djoser (reign began around 2630 B.C). His mastaba tomb at Saqqara started as an easy rectangular tomb before being developed into a six-layered step pyramid with underground tunnels and chambers.

Another leap in pyramid-building techniques came during the reign of the pharaoh Snefru (reign started around 2575 B.C.) who built a minimum of three pyramids. Rather than constructing step pyramids, Snefru’s architects developed methods to style smooth-faced, true pyramids.

It appears that Snefru’s architects ran into trouble. One of the pyramids he constructed at the location of Dahshur is understood today because the “bent pyramid” because the angle of the pyramid changes partway up, giving the structure a bent appearance. Scholars regularly regard the curved angle as being the result of a design flaw.

Snefru’s architects would fix the flaw; a second pyramid at Dahshur, known today because the “red pyramid” — so named after the color of its stones — features a constant angle, making it a true pyramid.

Snefru’s son, Khufu, would use the teachings from his father and earlier predecessors to construct the “Great Pyramid,” the most important pyramid within the world.

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