The main iconic image of ancient Egypt, the three pyramids of the Giza plateau outside Cairo, is at once a glory to the achievements of ancient civilizations and a monumental folly of the ego and absolute power. The pyramids of Giza are but one of many groups of pyramids found south of the Nile Delta. Pyramids had been built since the 2660's BC, for the first time by king Djoser at nearby Sakkara. A hundred years later king Khufu (Cheops) erected his at Gizah. Four hundred years after the political unification of the Nile valley around 3000 BC king Khufu pulled together all of Egypt's resources to erect a geometric perfection cast in stone. It is currently believed by Egyptologists that each pyramid was erected over the remains of the dead king's body laid in a sarcophagus. The king was to ascend to the other world where eternal life would greet him. The pyramid next to that of Khufu belongs to his son Khafre whose pyramid is somewhat shorter but built on higher ground appearing taller. The third, much smaller, pyramid completing the triad was commissioned by Menkaure who did not have the resources to match those of his predecessors. According to a recent theory however, the arrangement of the three Giza pyramids are not accidental and subject to the abilities of their builders but the earthly reflection of the line of three stars in the constellation Orion called Orion's belt. The Egyptians associated the stars of Orion with Osiris, the god of rebirth and afterlife. If this idea is proven correct, the three pyramids were constructed as a single program spanning three generations. All the pyramids were faced with polished white limestone which at one time gleamed in the sun and must have given the pyramids an other-worldly appearance. Adjacent to the pyramids were the burial chambers of the king's wives, children. relatives and those of the nobility. The pyramids had mortuary temples attached to them and they were connected to other mortuary temples by a long covered causeway next to a quay. One of them, that of Khafre, which was a double temple (Valley Temple and Sphinx Temple), formed a group with the Sphinx of timeless fame believed by some to represent Khafre's likeness. The quay next to the two temples of Khafre served as a dock where riverboats could unload the supplies for the maintenance of the dead king's cult as well as the cult of his family and the nobility. The quay was the end point of a system of canals connected to the Nile, the main highway of Egypt. It is still unclear what function the obviously important double building of Khafre served. The so-called Valley Temple (the left building on the illustration) was perhaps used as the place where the long process of embalming the king's body took place and where the final funerary rites were held. Provided with dramatic lighting from above, 23 diorite statues of the enthroned king originally lined the walls of the two symmetrical halls in the heart of the building. Paved with alabaster, the sturdy stone edifice was lined inside and outside with luxurious red granite shipped all the way from Aswan, a two week journey down the Nile. Its two doorways were flanked by sculptures of sphinxes. The building of the same size on the right is referred to as the Sphinx Temple as it was constructed directly in front of the Sphinx. Its purpose also eludes Egyptologists. Its central open courtyard also contained statues of the enthroned king, it was also paved with alabaster and it too at one time was lined with red granite inside and out. Both buildings face the rising sun, as the Sphinx behind them.