Even in the third millennium B.C., finding a spot close to the Great Pyramid was a big thing.
To the east and the west of the Great Pyramid of Khufu are two private cemeteries containing hundreds of mastabas, arranged in parallel rows with 'streets' between them.
The western cemetery was begun first, with 64 stone mastabas intended for senior familiy members and court officials (very often one and the same at this time).
East of the pyramid were built eight enormous twin-mastabas for what seems to be the king's favoured children, buried close to the three small queens pyramids.
No other pharaoh provided for his family and close friends like the builder of the Great Pyramid. The family of his son and grandson, Khafre and Menkaure respectively, were mostly buried in less expensive rock-cut tombs, south of the Great Pyramid, in the old quarry faces carved out for the stone to build the Giza pyramids.
Over time scores of smaller tombs were built in among the original mastabas, turning Khufu's planned, orderly, geometric lines into a chaotic jumble of tombs as people wanted to be buried on this sacred ground.
This photo south looks across the western mastaba field towards the pyramid of Khafre, the Second Pyramid at Giza.
Photo: Paul Warchol