By Gwyn Williams, Director  

The scale of the Great Pyramid is astounding. The tallest building on earth for over 3,000 years, it was formed from almost 6 million tonnes of stone and built with astonishing precision. But trying to capture the epic scale on camera and convey the true wonder of standing in front of it for our documentary Lost Secrets of the Pyramid was surprisingly difficult. From up close we needed the widest lens in our bag to fit it all in. We soon noticed a mysterious optical illusion where the angle of the pyramid's slant looked entirely different depending on where we were standing. If we wanted to get a sense of how it fitted into the landscape we needed elevation.

The Pharaoh Khufu, who ordered the pyramid built, chose a high plateau overlooking the Nile valley, so vantage points were limited.  American archeologist Mark Lehner took us to a great location where he thinks the king’s architect might have stood when he planned the construction.  A rocky outcrop that proved a fantastic place to see the whole site  – overlooking what was once a vast workers' town, a busy port and a hive of activity as stones were dragged up to the monument. It was a good place to film — but we needed to go higher.

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Lost Secrets of the Pyramid
Visit A Mysterious Chamber Underneath Giza’s Great Pyramid
An Ancient Papyrus Reveals How The Great Pyramid of Giza Was Built

Advances in drone-mounted cameras have given filmmakers an amazing tool to capture stunning scenes. But they were strictly banned at the Giza Plateau and helicopter filming opportunities were limited. Just as we set out to film we got some incredible news — an Egyptian aerial filming team snagged a permit to use a "quad-copter" – a drone with four rotor blades that provided a stable filming platform. Perfect timing for us. The results were breathtaking.

The drone footage comes close to capturing the true scale of the Great Pyramid and some of its beauty, too. From the air, it’s much easier to see each of the more than 200 layers of stones skilfully placed and levelled off and to get a sense of its context in the surroundings.

It’s a view that perhaps Khufu expected to see on his journey to the afterlife aboard his ceremonial ship. A good reminder that the pyramid may well have achieved its original aim — an immortality of sorts for a pharaoh who will be talked about as long as his Great Pyramid remains standing.
 

 

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