The Giza plateau is located twenty miles north of Memphis, on the west bank of the Nile River in Egypt. The Great Pyramid at Giza was commissioned in 2572 B.C. by the Fourth Dynasty pharaoh Khufu (later known by the Greek name of Cheops). This massive building project absorbed most of the financial resources of the nation during Khufu's twenty-three year reign. The Great Pyramid stands today as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Khufu's son, Khafre, built his own pyramid beside the impressive figure of the Great Sphinx. The image of the Sphinx in 240 feet long, with a lion's body but the face of Kharfe himself. The Sphinx was shaped from an outcrop of rock left from Khufu's stonecutters, and was revered as the guardian of sacred places.
The cost of such massive projects was so high that Khafre's successor, Menkaure, scaled down the dimensions of his own tomb to nearly one-third the size of his predecessors. The sun-god Ra was closely associated with the pyramids.