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DEFINITION: The site of the pyramid complexes of the Egyptian kings Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure on the west bank of the Nile opposite modern Cairo. It is most famous for the Great Pyramid of Khufu, two only slightly smaller pyramids, the Great Sphinx (statue of a human-headed lion) and its temple, and the tomb of Hetepheres, erected in the 4th Dynasty c 2600-2500 BC. The Great Pyramid is 481 feet (146.6 m) high and covers 13.1 acres. The earliest known monument is Mastaba V, which probably dates to the reign of the 1st Dynasty ruler Djet (c 2980 BC). The royal pyramid cemetery derived from earlier tomb types as seen at Saqqara. Elaborate measures were adopted to prevent disturbance of the royal burials, but all the pyramids were looted in antiquity.

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