Memphis, Saqqara and Giza, by Don Hogle

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
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Trip End Nov 14, 2011


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, November 4, 2011

While modern Egyptian Muslims are preparing to sacrifice cows and sheep to the one true God over the next few days, we're visiting memorials and resting places of a lot of ancient dead Egyptians.

We start at Memphis, the capital of the New Kingdom.  There’s nothing left of it save the odd sarcophagus or statue, with one notable suggestion:  a massive statue of Ramses II lies on its back inside an open-air building.

The tomb of a high priest at Saqqara is much more interesting.  The walls are covered in bas relief with scenes of daily life – fishing expeditions, storing beer, animal husbandry, even a party with dancing girls, all rendered in charming detail.

Also in Saqqara, we see the first Egyptian pyramid – the Step Pyramid of Zoser, built in XXXX BC.  It is, of course, a tease for what’s to come after lunch – the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx.

The Great Pyramid of King Cheops is really big!  Some of us decide to pay the extra 100 Egyptian Pounds (less than $20) to go inside to the burial chamber.  It’s a 45 meter climb up a narrow passageway; at some points you have to be quite bent over to clear the ceiling.  The chamber is a dark stone room, devoid of decoration and empty except for an empty sarcophagus.  But the bragging rights for having done it are worth the price of admission.

After a short ride on a flea-ridden camel – mine curved his long neck back toward me and scratched the top of his head on my right leg – and a look at the King’s reconstructed boat (which is pretty cool), we hustle down to catch the last sight before it closes – the Sphinx.

We just make it.  In the warm light of the setting sun, it’s quite photogenic.  And for some reason, despite the crowd, I get a very peaceful feeling there. There’s a quiet confidence to something that’s been where it’s been for the past 4000 years that makes any temporary concern seem trifling.
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bruce on

this is owesome

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