What the Great Pyramids of Giza Originally Looked Like

Ask anyone who’s traveled to the Great Pyramids of Giza: no matter how many times you’ve seen them in photographs or on television, you’re never really prepared to come face-to-face with them in real life. But you can get fairly close to at least the appearance of real life by seeing the Pyramids in 4k resolution, as they’re presented in the video above from travel, architecture, and history Youtuber Manuel Bravo (previously featured here on Open Culture for his explanation of Filippo Brunelleschi’s dome atop the Florence Cathedral). This isn’t just vacation footage: Bravo tells the story of the Pyramids, puts them in context, and even incorporates virtual re-creations of what they would have looked like in their heyday.

We know the Pyramids as iconic ruins, undoubtedly mighty but also seriously dilapidated. When they were built in the 26th century BC, they were covered in white limestone exterior shells, giving them the strikingly smooth if chromatically reversed appearance of a 2001-style monolith — a characteristic that no doubt encourages certain theorists who imagine the construction process as having been executed by beings from outer space.

The technically inclined Bravo presumably has little time for such notions, filling the video as he does with details about the architecture and engineering of the Pyramids, many of them thoroughly human in nature, such as the deliberately confusing passageways meant to throw off plunderers.

Along with high-resolution footage and renderings of what the Pyramids looked like then and look like now, Bravo also includes his own on-foot explorations, showing us corners of the complex (and one especially claustrophobe-unfriendly tunnel) that we don’t normally see unless we take a tour ourselves. This close-up perspective gives him the opportunity to connect the modern human experience of these ancient monuments to their vast scale and historically distant conception. To be awed and even overwhelmed is perhaps the most natural response to the Pyramids, and for some, it’s worth the trip to experience that feeling alone. For others, answering the question of exactly how and why they awe and overwhelm becomes the work of a lifetime.

Related content:

A Walking Tour Around the Pyramids of Giza: 2 Hours in Hi Def

Take a 360° Interactive Tour Inside the Great Pyramid of Giza

Take a 3D Tour Through Ancient Giza, Including the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx & More

What the Great Pyramid of Giza Would’ve Looked Like When First Built: It Was Gleaming, Reflective White

Who Built the Egyptian Pyramids & How Did They Do It?: New Archeological Evidence Busts Ancient Myths

The Grateful Dead Play at the Egyptian Pyramids, in the Shadow of the Sphinx (1978)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

by | Permalink | Comments (9) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (9)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Jon says:

    What utter rubbish 2million stone blocks weighing 2-6 tonnes built in 25 years, thats virtually 1 block every two minutes 8 hours a day 365 days a year.

  • mike sanders says:

    I find his commentary irritating and difficult to understand his English is not well articulated and has strange emphases he needs to practise normal English speaking.

  • Nelson says:

    White civilization.

  • N du Plessis says:

    Thank the Lord for differences in cultures. How boring it would have been if we were all the same.
    Very interesting!

  • Enal Posi says:

    Maybe you need to work on your English?

  • Ena Posi says:

    Thanks for the vid. However, the assumption that the environment was already a sandy dessert a few millennia ago is questionable.

  • Vinister george says:

    Wow…. Super

  • Peter McQuillan says:

    Actually. It was a sandy desert. The Egyptians saw the west as the place of the dead. Because that’s where the sun sets, and that area was barren sand. The east was the lush Nile. This is well known, to those who know.

  • Mike Polotto says:

    I really do not understand why everyone online feels they need to take lil jabs and digs at people who leave comments. Stop trying to scream to the world how much you think you know… and how wrong other people are. When did this become a form of communication? Attacking people does not make you look more intelligent. It’s ok to give your opinions or your theories and it’s NOT ok to pounce on other people’s stances. This modern day hate speech is beyond unproductive and is the reason why we can’t seem to get any of our major questions answered. Separate yourself from knowledge. YOU are meaningless when it comes to seeking truth.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.