The Pyramids of Giza Once Sat Near the Banks of the Nile

Analysis of sediment around the Pyramids of Giza show that the Khufu branch of the Nile River once flowed close enough to the location that it likely was used to transport the stones and materials used to build the pyramids, according to a team of researchers from France and Egypt.

What to Know:

  • New palaeoecological analyses have helped to reconstruct an 8000-year history of the flow of the waters of the Nile River in the Giza area of Egypt, showing that higher river levels around 4500 years ago facilitated the construction of the Giza Pyramid complex.

  • Core sediment samples that have been collected from several sites in and around Giza over the years and analysis of fossilized pollen grains and marsh grasses trapped in them for thousands of years proved the plants are very similar to flowering grasses that line the Nile River today.

  • Combining results from prior studies that involved studying the rock layers surrounding the pyramids, it was found that when the pyramids were being built 4000 years ago, the water levels of the Khufu branch were high enough that they reached nearly all the way to Giza.

  • While the Giza complex is today located 7 kilometers from the waters of the Nile, the Khufu branch remained at a high-water level during the reigns of Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, for whom the three main pyramids are named and facilitated the transportation of construction materials to the Giza Pyramid complex.

  • Not long after the reign of King Tutankhamun, levels of the Khufu branch began to drop, leading to a much more arid environment to the point where the pyramids are now located 7 kilometers from the waters of the Nile.

This is a summary of the article “Nile waterscapes facilitated the construction of the Giza pyramids during the 3rd millennium BCE,” published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Aug. 29, 2022. The full article can be found on

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