Lighting of Pyramids of Giza


Though the three Great Pyramids are the most famous and prominent monuments at Giza, the site has actually been a Necropolis almost since the beginning of Pharaonic Egypt. A tomb just on the outskirts of the Giza site dates from the reign of the First Dynasty Pharaoh Wadj (Djet), and jar sealings discovered in a tomb in the southern part of Giza mention the Second Dynasty Pharaoh Ninetjer. But it was the Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) who placed Giza forever at the heart of funerary devotion, a city of the dead that dwarfed the cities of the living nearby. His pyramid, the largest of all the pyramids in Egypt (though it should be noted that it surpasses the Red Pyramid of his father Snefru by only ten meters) dominates the sandy plain.

Further along the southwest diagonal is the smallest of the three, the pyramid of Khephren’s son, Menkaure. It is also the most unusual. First of all, it is not entirely limestone. The uppermost portions are brick, much like the Black and White Pyramids at Dahshur, though separated from them by several centuries. One theory is that Menkaure died before his pyramid could be completed, and the remaining construction was hastily done to finish in time for the burial. It is also not along the diagonal line that runs through the Great Pyramid and the Second Pyramid, but instead is nearly a hundred meters to the southeast. This error, if error it is, is of a magnitude not in keeping with the mathematical skill known to have been possessed by the ancient Egyptians. However, an idea has emerged in the last few years that the three large pyramids of Giza are actually meant to be in an alignment resembling that of the three “belt” stars in the constellation Orion: Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu’s wives, an even smaller “satellite” pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles. One of the small pyramids contains the tomb of queen Hetepheres (discovered in 1925), sister and wife of Sneferu and the mother of Khufu. There was a town for the workers of Giza, including a cemetery, bakeries, a beer factory and a copper smelting complex. More buildings and complexes are being discovered by The Giza Mapping Project.

A few hundred metres south-west of the Great Pyramid lies the slightly smaller Pyramid of Khafre, one of Khufu’s successors who is also commonly considered the builder of the Great Sphinx, and a few hundred metres further south-west is the Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre’s successor, which is about half as tall.

The generally accepted estimated date of its completion is c. 2560 BC. Although this date contradicts radiocarbon dating evidence, it is loosely supported by a lack of archaeological findings for the existence prior to the fourth dynasty of a civilization with sufficient population or technical ability in the area.

From the west wall looking east in this picture you can see scaffolding that is used during periods of restoration to clean and restore the walls of the main chamber.

The restored main burial chamber


Pyramids in Giza, the huge symbols of the Egyptian culture as scenery of a spectacular coloured light show: this is the last creation of the British lighting designer Duram Marenghi who has created a lighting extravaganza at the famous historic site. The event, held last December 8, 2006, was organized by Egyptian telecom company Orascom to mark their 50 millionth subscriber and, in occasion of the event, guests were housed in a large tent overlooking the site and were entertained by an international cabaret. The imposing and precious lighting pyramids provided a wonderful view to the observers, a real show of dynamic lights that changed in different tones of colours.

Originally the Italian production company  events were tasked to provide a light and fireworks as a highlight to the special evening but a combination of a very short lead time and delays in the granting of permissions saw the fireworks element removed and Duram Marenghi from Lumitect Limited was appointed as art director for the event. Marenghi required dramatic floodlighting of the central pyramid and powerful aerial effects, using sixteen 10kw diachronic searchlights alongside twelve 8kw units.

The 10kw searchlights were placed behind the central Pyramid; the 8kw lamps with their standard gel scrolls and gobo effects were placed in front of the Pyramid and further floodlights was installed on the side of Pyramids, under the direction of the local contractor’s lighting designer Baher George.
Associate lighting designers for the event were Nick Jones and Eneas Mackintosh who both supported Marenghi at the Winter Olympics in Turin and also Mike Ansley and Jeffery Smith.
Besides representing a cultural and entertainment corporate event, the aim of the lighting show was to inspire the custodians of this historic site to update their 1960’s lighting system in order to highlights the already known marvel of these Egyptian culture’s milestones. For Duram Marenghi an occasion to confirm his creativity and his special way to work with light, creating spectacular atmospheres.
The Power of the Pyramids: Light on an Epic Scale
After a millennium of drab desert moonlight, The Pyramids of Giza found themselves in the midst of an epic gala, swathed in brilliant, eye-popping color and surrounded by a festive symphony of sound.
The event was organized by Egyptian telecom company Orascom to celebrate its fifty millionth subscriber. Pop supergroup The Pussycat Dolls headlined the evening’s entertainment.
British lighting designer, Durham Marenghi of Lumitect Limited, was appointed as Art Director for the event. His vision included dramatic floodlighting of the Great Pyramid — so he called on Syncrolite, which flew in sixteen of its new 10kw Diachronic searchlights and twelve 8kw units.
The Great Pyramid is an awesome canvas: its base covers 13 acres (52,609 m2), each of its sides is over 750 feet (230 m) long, and it rises 450 feet (137 m) above the desert sands. This means that the main face of the Great Pyramid is almost 169,000 sq. feet (almost 16,000 m2).
To achieve the “dawning of a new era” feel, the 10kw Diachronic searchlights were placed behind the central Pyramid. The 8kw units (equipped with standard gel scrolls and gobo effects) were placed in front of the Pyramid.
Additional floodlighting of the side pyramids was supplied by local contractor ProLite under the direction of lighting designer, Baher George.

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