Archaeoastronomy: The study of stones and stars

Pyramids at Giza

The necropolis at Giza, just south of Cairo, Egypt, were built between 2600 B.C.E. and 2500 B.C.E. The three main pyramids, dedicated to Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, are precisely aligned along their southeast corners. 

Map of the Giza Plateau by MesserWoland, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s an image of the pyramids taken from the international space station (ISS) in 2012. southeast-facing sides of the pyramids of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure are all brightly illuminated by the sun, while the northwest facing sides are in shadow. 

NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The pyramids themselves are spaced in such a way that at different, significant times of the year, the setting sun hits the angles of the horizon and the pyramids.  For example, at the spring equinox, the sun sets at the very corner of the Pyramid of Khufru. 

via Coursera Archaeoastronomy, G. Magli, Politecnico di Milan

At the Summer solstice, the sun give us this most-famous image of setting exactly between the two larger pyramids.

via Coursera Archaeoastronomy, G. Magli, Politecnico di Milan

Click here to visit the UNESCO site on Giza, the pyramids, and surrounding sites..

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