The Pyramids of Giza

and The Sphinx




reach recognize draw/drew/drawn (2)
sight symbolize more/the most
scene mark (2) build/built/built
tower towering fabulously
tomb treasure spend/spent/spent (2)
wealth kingdom take/took/taken
locker afterlife spend a good part
pet survivor Seven Wonders
sacred satisfied grand/grander/grandest
marvel stuck (2) foot/feet (2)
guess laborer small/smaller/smallest
escape corridor hard at work
drag limestone work hard
huge construct unfold (2)
ramp passage eventually
high shaft (2) wonder (2)
hope mummy according to
secret originally passageway
tomb chamber slide/slid/slid
encase deep (2) lead/led/led
climb side (2) around (2)
burial ancient hit/hit/hit (3)
silent precious think/thought/thought
arrival massive sarcophagus
veneer audacity big/bigger/biggest
filled block (3) must have
shiny provide abacus (2)
soul face (2) carve out of
carve passage complement (2)
piece wisdom limestone
likely plateau monument
peace strength rise/rose/risen
ascent promise






We finally reach the desert and the sight that draws most tourists to Egypt: the Pyramids at Giza, one of the most recognizable scenes in all of tourism.

Towering before us are the tombs of three great kings, or pharaohs. These monuments were built to mark, and to protect, the bodies of fabulously wealthy and powerful pharaohs.

They spent a good part of their lives, and their kingdom’s wealth, building huge pyramids, which served as lockers for whatever they wanted to take into the afterlife: their bodies, their treasures — even their favorite pets.

The pyramid of the pharaoh Cheops is the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This grandest of all pyramids — 700 feet (213 meters) long on each side — was built 2,500 years before Christ.

The neighboring pyramids are likely those of Cheops’ son and grandson. The smaller ones? They’re for the wives and daughters.

Experts guess that, with 10,000 laborers hard at work, it took 20 years to build the pyramid of Cheops. According to my abacus, that’s 200,000 man-years of hard labor. Workers dragged over two million huge stones up ramps, eventually constructing this 450-foot-(137)-high monument.

In their day, the pyramids were encased in a shiny limestone veneer. I sure hope Cheops was satisfied.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Long, secret corridors, originally blocked by sliding stones, lead to the tomb chamber, deep in the center of each pyramid. Climbing this passage, you marvel at the design and the audacity of the project.

Finally, reaching the burial room, you’re hit by the thought that this was the most sacred and precious chamber in the ancient world — silent for 4,000 years, until the arrival of tourism.

This is it: the center of this massive pyramid. The pharaoh’s mummy was put in this stone sarcophagus. The sarcophagus is bigger than the passageway — so this must’ve been here first, and then the pyramid built around it.

This huge chamber was filled with treasures.

A little shaft was designed into the pyramid to provide an escape passage for the soul of the pharaoh. For the pharaoh, the most important treasure was his soul, which needed to be free for the ascent to the afterlife.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Back outside, complementing the scene, is the mysterious Sphinx. As old as the pyramids, it was carved out of a piece of hard rock that stuck above the limestone plateau.

With the body of a lion and the head of a king, or god, it came to symbolize both strength and wisdom as it faces east and the rising Sun.

The sphinx faces the promise of the rising Sun, and so does Cairo — as Egypt’s ancient story continues to unfold.

Thanks for joining us. I’m Rick Steves. Until next time, keep on travelin’.

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Pyramids of Giza. In all of Egypt, there is only one pyramid. True or false?

Pyramid of the Sun. Why were the pyramids built? What were the purposes of the pyramids?

Stonehenge. Were the Pyramids of Giza built during the Middle Ages?

Easter Island. Were all the pyramids dedicated to a single person, or did each pyramid belong to a different person?

Stone Spheres of Costa Rica. The construction of the Pyramids of Giza was a massive (colossal) undertaking. Is this right or wrong? What figures or numbers were mentioned?

Tikal. Are the interior of the pyramids completely solid?

Tihuanaco. Was the pyramid chamber empty? What was in the pyramid chamber?

Machu Picchu. The Sphinx was made of thousands of stone blocks. Is this correct or incorrect? Does the Spinx face north?
Saksayhuaman. My friends and I have visited Egypt. I have been to Egypt. Yes or no?

Nazca Lines. Who built the pyramids? How might have the Pyramids been built? Why were they built?

Arkaim. My friends and I would like to become Egyptologists or archaeologists. True or false?

Angkor Wat. What might happen in the future?

Coral Castle. Would could or should people and governments and businesses do?

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