COURTESY OF KAREN MCFADYEN
When Karen and Richard McFadyen of Orlando visited Egypt's pyramids and the Great Sphinx in May, they were awed by the juxtaposition of Giza's second-largest pyramid of Khafre and the head of the centuries-old monument depicting the pharaoh who built it. As archaeological excavations have continued, answers to some of the mysteries of the Giza plateau have come to light. Research published by National Geographic notes that Khafre built his pyramid smaller than that of his father, Khufu — or Cheops — but surrounded his monument with a more elaborate complex. According to National Geographic, "Within [Khafre's] burial chamber, explorers discovered a small pit cut in the floor — perhaps designed to hold the first canopic chest in a pyramid. Canopic chests held jars carved in the shapes of protective spirits. These jars, in turn, held the preserved liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines of the deceased. The brain would have been discarded, and the heart left in the body. Outside the pyramid all the typical elements of a pharaonic mortuary temple are seen in one place for the first time: entrance hall, colonnaded courtyard, niches for royal statuary, storage chambers, and interior sanctuary. Khafre's necropolis also boasted an unprecedented profusion of statues, among them the Sphinx. Carved from bedrock in front of Khafre's pyramid, the Sphinx depicts the pharaoh as a human-headed lion, wearing the headdress of the pharaohs. The great statue is the embodiment of Khafre … as the god Horus."