Richard T. Nowitz

The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, lower right, stars of a sound and light show, glow improbably against a black night sky. Built at Giza by Pharaoh Khufu (2551–2528 B.C.E.; better known by the Greek form of his name, Cheops), the Great Pyramid can dazzle even armchair tourists with its statistics. At least 2,300,000 limestone blocks, averaging 2.5 tons each, compose the structure. Oriented to the cardinal points, the pyramid has a square base measuring 745 feet to a side, some 10 feet less than their original length due to the pyramid’s loss of its outer layer of stones. The tallest of the pyramids, at 449 feet (about 10 feet below its original height), the Great Pyramid poses an alluring challenge to tourists with an impulse to climb—including the author of the accompanying article. Numerous fatal falls from the Great Pyramid, however, have led the authorities to ban climbing.