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Assignment 2: Visual Analysis Assignment

Great Pyramids, Gizeh, Egypt, 4th dynasty, ca. 2551-2472

EVDA 523.01: Premodern Traditions of the World


Name: Sumer Matharu
Student ID: 10047835
Date: 08 October 2015

Figure 1

The great pyramids of Giza (or Gizeh) are located outside of Cairo, the capital of
Egypt. The image provided as seen above in Figure 1, was taken with enough lighting
available for a beautiful shot, while at the same time dark enough to see the beautiful
city lights of Cairo. No other civilization in history has made so much effort to attain
immortality. Their architecture certainly has surpassed time and history itself. It was
believed by the Egyptian civilization that the pyramids were a link between this world
and the next, and between mortality and immortality.

From back to front, the first and largest pyramid that was built is that of Khufu.
The second is that of his son Khafre, and the last pyramid in Giza is that of Khafres son
and Khufus grandson, Menkaure. These pyramids all had their own causeways to their
respective temples and other structures. There was no single construction technique
used for all the pyramids and they were all built differently.
Khufu started the chain of pyramids in Giza. The largest tomb chamber in Khufus
pyramid is made of granite. It has 3 burial chambers and a large number of smaller
tombs located to the west. This includes smaller pyramids and mastabas for important
members of Khufus court. This pyramid has the best preserved valley temple and
causeway.
In the image, Khafres pyramid actually looks bigger or taller than Khufus. In
perception it may be so, but in reality Khufus pyramid is yet larger. One of the reasons
for this visual deception in the image provided is the fact that Khafres pyramid is built
on higher ground. The angle of the pyramid is 53 degrees. It has only 1 burial chamber.
The famous Sphinx sculpture or statue is connected by a causeway to this pyramid.
The smallest of all three pyramids is Menkaures. There is evidence that this
pyramid was built very quickly and not as carefully or meticulously as the other two. The
angle of inclination of this pyramid is 51 degrees.
There is a misconception in history that these pyramids were built by slaves. In
fact, there is an ancient settlement of workers nearby where it has been found that
these people were well nourished and living with their families.

The pyramids, however worn, have retained their structure through the centuries.
This is a testament to the amount of belief the Egyptians kept in preserving their royalty
who they perceived as Gods. Certainly, it is almost as if they created these giant time
capsules for big children who had the luxury available to them. After discovery and on
exploring these structures, a vast treasure was found among which were relics and
archaeological evidence of the amazing culture that flourished so long ago. In some
way, the pyramids have served their purpose in passing on the Pharaohs from the past
life to the next in terms of civilizations. They have preserved their way of life, the way
they would have wanted to live it in their afterlife.
The urban sprawl seen in the background is mesmerizing. If the Pharaohs could
have lived to see this day and if there were Pharaohs existing in this day and age, it
would be expected for them to build viewing platforms to see the city lights from atop
the pyramids. It also goes to show us how the cityscape has developed or moved away
from the pyramids. The most important activity of the Egyptians back in the time of the
Pharaohs was to preserve immortality among other important functions. Today, the most
important activity does not even involve the pyramids or what they stand for because
now we are made to believe that life is finite. Now people focus on the rise of global
economy, shifting world powers and political issues. Back then people focused on
protecting their kingdom and transitioning to the afterlife.
One aspect about the pyramids to notice is the differences in quality, grandeur of
construction and architecture and the size. Typically one would expect that the son and
grandson would attempt to outdo the forefather. In the case of the pyramids at Giza, it is
evident that Khufus pyramid is the largest and the grandest. Khafre simply tried to

outwit the magnitude of his fathers pyramid by trying to build on a higher ground.
Maybe he did not have enough funding available or maybe he just did not want to spend
too much time in trying to outdo his father. In another thought, maybe out of respect for
his father, he chose not to outdo him. Instead, he paid attention to the sculpting of the
sphinx which may have held greater meaning for him. That is why it is his causeway
that leads to the statue. The same can be said for Menkaures pyramid. Maybe he had
no intention of outdoing his father nor his grandfather. On the other hand, maybe he
was the poorest of the three Pharaohs and did not exert the same amount of authority
or influence to have a grand pyramid built for himself. Maybe he was dying and had to
have his pyramid built quickly so he could be passed on from this life to the next.
Whether it be either of the aforementioned scenarios, the hierarchy of the pyramids
simply did not follow convention.
For a country that has been removed so far from its ancient heritage in terms of
religion and culture, it is a great sight to see that the pyramids are given a grand stage
in terms of national pride. From the image it seems that there is lighting available on the
premises to showcase the pyramids even at night. However, the contrast between the
city lights and the lights bounced off the pyramids is quite large. It can also be used to
signify the contract in cultures between then and now. The culture of now uses their
ancestral heritage site for the tourism industry. It would be expected that from a high
rise apartment of condominium in the city, a stellar view of these pyramids would fetch a
higher price than those that do not get the same privilege. Many men would court their
ladies across the Nile with a romantic view of the distant pyramids lit up at night.
Restaurants along the Nile would charge an extra amount just for the viewing pleasure

of these magnificent geometrical structures while dining from their menu. Boat rides
would slow down while floating along the banks of the pyramids and tour guides would
speak about the grandeur of the Pharaohs.
In conclusion, the Pharaohs achieved their purpose. They are still here, although
their bodies may be inanimate. However, they brought themselves to our time. After all
these years, we know about them, we understand what they did and why they did it, and
we know their way of life.

List of Figures
1. Great Pyramids, Gizeh, Egypt, 4 dynasty, ca. 2551-2472 BCE
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