Memphis, Saqqara and Giza, by Don Hogle
Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
13Trip End Nov 14, 2011
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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
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.