The Pyramid Builder.

By Christine El Mahdy

Printed: 2003

Publisher: Headline. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 4

Buy Now

Item information


In the original dustsheet. Red cloth binding with silver title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

The Pyramid Builder; Discussion of what the archaeology of the pyramids tells us about the convoluted reign of Cheops and his heirs and successors. Includes a chapter on the sphinx and its dating. Identifies the face of the sphinx as that of Cheops’ brother. Four and a half thousand years ago, the largest of the wonders of the ancient world was built. The Great Pyramid at Giza has fascinated and intrigued scholars ever since and it is the only one of the wonders listed by the Greeks to have survived intact to this day. By the time Tutankhamen ruled Egypt it was already 1500 years old; to Cleopatra it was an antiquity. But how was it built? Why and by whom The Great Pyramid, thought to be evidence of a slave-culture on a truly despotic scale, has fascinated travellers and archaelogists since the 19th-century revival of interest in antiquities. And with it a fascination with the pharaoh who built it: Cheops. This book takes a look at the man behind the monument – the life and times of Cheops, the greatest pyramid-builder of them all.


The Statue of Khufu in the Cairo Museum

Khufu or Cheops was an ancient Egyptian monarch who was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, in the first half of the Old Kingdom period (26th century BC). Khufu succeeded his father Sneferu as king. He is generally accepted as having commissioned the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but many other aspects of his reign are poorly documented.


The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest Egyptian pyramid and served as the tomb of pharaoh Khufu, who ruled during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Built in the early 26th century BC, over a period of about 27 years, the pyramid is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only wonder that has remained largely intact. It is the most famous monument of the Giza pyramid complex, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Memphis and its Necropolis”. It is situated at the northern end of the line of the three pyramids at Giza.                         

The only completely preserved portrait of the king is a three-inch high ivory figurine found in a temple ruin of a later period at Abydos in 1903. All other reliefs and statues were found in fragments, and many buildings of Khufu are lost. Everything known about Khufu comes from inscriptions in his necropolis at Giza and later documents. For example, Khufu is the main character noted in the Westcar Papyrus from the 13th dynasty.

Most documents that mention king Khufu were written by ancient Egyptian and Greek historians around 300 BC. Khufu’s obituary is presented there in a conflicting way: while the king enjoyed a long-lasting cultural heritage preservation during the period of the Old Kingdom and the New Kingdom, the ancient historians Manetho, Diodorus and Herodotus hand down a very negative depiction of Khufu’s character. Thanks to these documents, an obscure and critical picture of Khufu’s personality persists.


A sphinx (pl: sphinxes or sphinges) is a mythical creature with the head of a human, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle.

In Greek tradition, the sphinx is a treacherous and merciless being with the head of a woman, the haunches of a lion, and the wings of a bird. According to Greek myth, she challenges those who encounter her to answer a riddle, and kills and eats them when they fail to do so. This deadly version of a sphinx appears in the myth and drama of Oedipus.


The Great Sphinx of Giza is a limestone statue of a reclining sphinx, a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. Facing directly from west to east, it stands on the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The face of the Sphinx appears to represent the pharaoh Khafre. The original shape of the Sphinx was cut from the bedrock, and has since been restored with layers of limestone blocks. It measures 73 m (240 ft) long from paw to tail, 20 m (66 ft) high from the base to the top of the head and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. The Sphinx is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt and one of the most recognizable statues in the world. The archaeological evidence suggests that it was created by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom during the reign of Khafre (c. 2558–2532 BC). The circumstances surrounding the Sphinx’s nose being broken off are uncertain, but close inspection suggests a deliberate act using rods or chisels. Contrary to a popular myth, it was not broken off by cannonfire from Napoleon’s troops during his 1798 Egyptian campaign. Its absence is in fact depicted in artwork predating Napoleon, and referred to in descriptions by the 15th-century historian al-Maqrīzī.

In Egyptian mythology, in contrast, the sphinx is typically depicted as a man (an androsphinx (Ancient Greek: ανδρόσφιγξ)), and seen as benevolent, though with strength as ferocious as that of the Greek version. Both the Greek and Egyptian sphinxes were thought of as guardians, and statues of them often flank the entrances to temples.

During the Renaissance the sphinx enjoyed a major revival in European decorative art. During this period, images of the sphinx were initially similar to the ancient Egyptian version, but when later exported to other cultures, the sphinx was often conceived of quite differently, partly due to varied translations of descriptions of the originals, and partly through the evolution of the concept as it was integrated into other cultural traditions.

However, depictions of the sphinx are generally associated with grand architectural structures, such as royal tombs or religious temples.

Want to know more about this item?

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this item. In addition, it is also possible to request more photographs if there is something specific you want illustrated.
Ask a question

Share this Page with a friend