Pyramids of Giza

The area extending from Dashur to Giza and over to Memphis is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Giza

Giza is not just 3 big pyramids.  It is a massive complex of antiquity constructed near 2300BC.  The size of the pyramids cannot be understated!  They are the last of the original seven wonders written about by Herodotus the historian.  They remained the tallest structure built by humans until the Eiffel tower was built.  Put another way, it took nearly 4100 years for humans to figure out how to build something taller than the Great Pyramids.  There are nine pyramids, builder quarters, quarries, funerary boats, temples, a giant sphinx, and many noble tombs.  Many tour buses came, dropped a bus load off and give people an hour to explore.  We took 2.5 hours to explore and still felt rushed. We  arrived on a Friday which was the beginning of the Muslim weekend.  This meant it was very crowded.  Families poured in and picnicked right on the steps of the pyramid while the kids ran all over exploring this ancient wonderland.  Camels groaned, horse carriages sped past, the antiquities police went around whistling and shooing people down who had climbed too far up the pyramids.  Camel rides were offered everywhere.  Two roads weaved between the pyramids and took people to a panorama site for pictures.  People who paid extra had a personal driver take them there.  Otherwise they could go by camel, horse, or horse carriage.  During our last visit there were no horse carriages, just camels and horses.

There were two entrances.  One by the biggest pyramid and one by the Sphinx.  Our driver took us to the entrance by the Sphinx.  It turned out to a local entrance and being the only tourists there, we received the special privilege of being able to cut in line.  A person explained that our ticket price included entry into the queen’s pyramid and to the Sphinx viewing platform.  The funerary boat and entrance to the main pyramids was an extra cost.  Purchasing a camel ride at the entry gate was cheaper, so we were told, but we had no desire to ride a camel.

We walked counter clockwise around the three pyramids and ventured into Queen Meretites I tomb.  Inside was surprisingly sparse compared to the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.  We had to slide down a narrow passage.  The air was hot and musty.

 

A rare shot these days!  It was so crowded, I couldn’t believe my luck to capture an image with almost no one in it.
It took us nearly 2 hours to walk around two of the three pyramids.  They were HUGE!
The great Sphinx was part of the original entryway to the pyramid complex.
Each block was huge!  They were moved one by one in a time before wheels.  Moreover, according to information at the museum, they were moved by people not animals.  An interesting piece here on how the stones were moved (Click Here)
The angle of ascent of the pyramids were also important.  They gave the impression of ascending forever into the heavens.  Looking up, it is easy to believe that one could walk all the way into the realm of the gods.

Saqarra

Djoser Pyramid.  The oldest in the world!

This necropolis was the burial region for the first pharaohs of the old kingdom.  The Djoser Pyramid, was step pyramid, it the oldest pyramid in the world built in 2700BC.  To the north, the Giza plateau could be seen and to the South the Snefru pyramid complex was visible.  Although the inner chambers were blocked off, the pharaoh’s sarcophagus could be seen on the back side of the pyramid.

The entrance to the burial chamber of Djoser pyramid.

When we went there 17 years ago very little was excavated.  This time we were able to enter many of the tombs of nobles.  The hieroglyphs in here were particularly interesting as they depicted daily life such as fishing, hunting, and preparing food for festivals.

In this hieroglyph we can see people pulling heavy objects using a sledge.  People would pour water on the surface to reduce friction.  A time before the wheel!

We didn’t walk farther, but if we had we would have been able to visit the tombs of the very first pharaohs of a united Egypt.

To the South, in the distance the pyramids of Snefru could be seen.

Memphis

Memphis was the capital city of the Old Kingdom.  It was founded in 3100BC and remained the capital until the capital was relocated to Thebes (current day Luxor) in 1500BC.  The site itself doesn’t have much now except a colossal statue of Ramses II, like those seen at Luxor.  There are several reliefs and blocks of the Egyptian god Ptah.

This statue was discovered face down in a swampy area.  It remained there for years until people figured out how to upright the 82 ton statue.  Some good-old-ancient Egyptian know-how was missing.
All around the statue there are placard with factoids about his cartouche, his ceremonial outfit, and how the statue was righted.

Early Civilization Timeline

3 comments

  1. […] Reef, Krugar National Park , and Gulung Mulu.  We saw both amazing human accomplishments (like the Pyramids of Egypt, The Great Wall, Petra, Borobudur, My Son and many more) and some of the worst human failures like […]

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