Satellite Image: The Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza

The Giza Plateau as seen in this satellite photograph. But you can see even closer! Click this image to explore this great satellite image. - Image courtesy of GeoEye.The Pyramids of Giza at the Giza Plateau, Egypt, are one of the most famous sights in the world. It’s probably photographed from every possible angle from the ground, but often do you see it from above?Sure, Google Earth might give you an insight into aerial photography, but GeoEye has kindly given Heritage Key amazing satellite imagery at a high resolution, allowing us to see the pyramids as if we were in the space shuttle (or an alien space craft).

Giza is, of course, home to the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza. Towering at 138.8 metres, it is the only remaining Wonder of the World of the original seven. The map also shows just how close the Giza Necropolis is to the city of Cairo, the most populous city in Africa. It also puts to the bed the popular myth that the famous Pyramids are in some remote desert location, when we can clearly see that nearby lucky neighbours are waking up to this magnificent sight! And you might also consider playing golf if you can get a tee time in the shadows of the pyramids.

So what can you spot in the above image?The following famous landmarks are all in there:

The Great Pyramid of Giza – Also known as the Pyramid of Khufu, this world famous landmark is one of the oldest structures in history, yet its powerful presence is only enhanced by the mystery surrounding who built them (the answer to which Dr Mark Lehner is searching for in this fantastic video) and how it was built, with theories ranging from a structural basis to all sorts of wacky theories being put out there!

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The Great Sphinx of Giza – The reclining lion with a human head is also one of the most recognisable remnants of our ancient past, yet most of the most questioned too. The questions hanging over who built it, when it was built and who the famous face was modelled on are much debated, leading to what is know as The Riddle of the Sphinx. It was also feared that this famous cat might get its paws wet, and so drilling commenced under the Great Sphinx, as can be seen in this video with Dr Zahi Hawass and Dr Mark Lehner.

New Satellite Images Coming Each Week

This post is the first in a weekly series that will be showcasing high resolution satellite photography of Ancient World sites from across the globe, courtesy of GeoEye! Be sure to check back each week to see which Heritage site we cover next.

The Pyramid of Khafre – The second biggest pyramid at the Giza Necropolis is named after Pharoah Khafra, and often misleads as being the largest of the three pyramids. This is because the Pyramid of Khafre sits on a bedrock which is 10m higher than the Great Pyramid, giving the impression that it is a taller pyramid.

The Pyramid of Menkaure – The smallest of the three pyramids, the Pyramid of Mankaure stands at 61 metres tall and was built as a tomb for Pharaoh Menkaure. A large hole can be seen on the northern face in the aerial view of the pyramid – a reminder from where early explorers entered into it. Adjacent to the Pyramid of Mankaure are three smaller pyramids – The Pyramids of the Queens. Archaeologists do not know for certain who the three queens were that these pyramids were built for, though one of them is thought to be one of Menkaure’s main consorts -Khamerernebti II.

So those are the famous highlights which you may be able to pick out from the aerial image, but for the more hardcore Egyptophile, can you tell your Eastern Cemetery from your Western Cemetery?Do you know your tomb of Queen Khentkawes from the tombs of Queen Hetepheres, and where is the Office of Pyramid Studies? And have you spotted the Builder’s Quarters, or did you find the Boat Pits? Where did Obama’s helicopter land when he was visiting the pyramids(watch the video)? Can you find the Tomb of Hemon is amongst all the Mastabas and rock cut tombs, and can you pick out the Funerary Temple of Menkaure, or will you get it confused with the Valley Temple of Khafre? Or maybe you’ll confuse the Funerary Temple of Khafre with the Valley Temple of Menkaure! And can you locate the entrance to The Lost Underworld of the Pharaohs? 😉

The Satellite Image is courtesy of GeoEye.