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October 14th 2017
Published: October 14th 2017
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A grove of date palms en route to the Pyramid sites A grove of date palms en route to the Pyramid sites A grove of date palms en route to the Pyramid sites

In an odd way they reminded me of coconut palms and the drive through The Cocal.
Today I pigged out on pyramids.

Over 300 Pyramids were built during the 3,000 year reign of the Pharaohs. Pyramids were always exclusively for burial of the Pharaoh, his wife and children. They were designed with the journey crossing through the underworld and the after life in mind. The Pharaoh was a god in human form and was therefore associated with that God, it's beliefs and practices. The art on the walls of his Pyramid of would portray him in both human and godly form, telling the story of who he was (all good) and the things he did during his life.

The ART on the walls, ceilings and corridors of his Pyramid and temple would portray him in both human and godly form, the HIEROGLYPHS would write his name and tell the story of his life: the everyday things he loved to do like hunting, playing music, fishing, ogling girls), singular events like his coronation, achievements like trade missions, his battles and conquests (for 3000 years Egypt was undefeated and the Pharaohs never lost a war to an outside enemy!). The Pharaohs unified Upper Egypt (I. E. the upper regions at the source of the River Nile) symbolized
Gelael my Egyptologist guide and Sahael the driver of my personal tour bus. Gelael my Egyptologist guide and Sahael the driver of my personal tour bus. Gelael my Egyptologist guide and Sahael the driver of my personal tour bus.

Deluxe Travel delivered exactly what I asked them to do. No complaints whatsoever. Kudos!
in the paintings as the Lotus Flower and Lower Egypt (at the mouth of the River Nile) symbolized as the papyrus flower.

The successful journey through the under world in after life was so crucial that from the time he was crowned the Pharaoh began plans to build his Pyramid. He chose a location, designed the structure with his builders, and then set about building it. After he died every one of his possessions would be buried with him so that he could be recognized when crossing the under world. To be unrecognized would forever doom him to remain there, trapped. His funerary mask was life like for that reason. And disfigurement of his portrayals after death was a deliberate act to sabotage his journey trapping him in the under world.

The stories ILLUSTRATED IN THE ART works of Pyramids and temples were TOLD IN THE HIEROGLYPHIC TEXTS which accompanied them. The finest tomb art was in (raised) bas reliefs, highly polished quality finishes, elegant and sophisticated in design. Those took much time. Others, done when time was running out, (e.g Pharoah facing death while the work was still underway) were etchings carved into the limestone or sandstone
The Bent Pyramid shape clearly visible in profile The Bent Pyramid shape clearly visible in profile The Bent Pyramid shape clearly visible in profile

It is believed that this pioneer among pyramids had to be altered in shape as it was being constructed. Otherwise it could not have been finished at the original dimensions.
material - quicker to complete and easier to do. After death the mummification process took 70 days so that was all the time left to finish an incomplete Pyramid structure and decorate it with the story of the deceased. When time was short like this, painting was done directly on to the flat stone surfaces. Today, thousands of years later, the colors of vegetable paints used are still vibrant on the surfaces, in some cases the polished stones still shine like metal. Today, despite millenia exposed to elements of nature, Roman attempts to burn them down , deliberate disfigurement with hammer and chisel, the art of the Pyramid builders is stunning.

From the earliest attempt at the &Bent Pyramid& to the variation &Stepped Pyramid& to pyramids built using different materials as with the &Red Pyramid& and the &Black Pyramid& none was greater than the GREAT PYRAMID at Gizeh, built by Cheops.

We visited Saqqara the first capital of Egypt, with a vast Necropolis complex established thousands of years ago.

We visited Dasher the oldest Pyramid site with a 6,700 year old structure dating to 4700 BC. There are few visitors here because it's not famous or spectacular.
At the base of theisPyramid clearly visible, the underlying material of cut blocks At the base of theisPyramid clearly visible, the underlying material of cut blocks At the base of theisPyramid clearly visible, the underlying material of cut blocks

And plastered on the outer surfaces, highly polished limestone.
But it is oh so interesting when the narrator is an Egyptologist. Like my guide Galael.

We drove through fields of date palms, green but still dusty in appearance! Their thick trunks and squat size are different yet it was reminiscent of driving through the coconut groves at Mayaro. And I was introduced to the over done security and police check points which pop up every where. Barriers across the road, speed bumps, guard huts, and check points taking details of car, driver and passengers. Trinidad proved difficult for some to understand! It seems security is stepped up at tourist sites. A later driver decided to settle on English for my nationality!

We visited Memphis a later capital famous for its STEP Pyramid, the oldest known man made stone structure built in 2630 BC. The pyramid was constructed using a 3 phase step method - the first inner phase had 7 steps which were then enlarged and covered in the 2nd stage. The third and final stage added the outer casing. Today the lower steps lie buried beneath rubble on the ground. Memphis was the center for worship of the God of creation and art, Ptah.

At
One ot numerous Colossal figures of Ramsis IIOne ot numerous Colossal figures of Ramsis IIOne ot numerous Colossal figures of Ramsis II

Artistry and skill was required of the men who produced these colossal figures, some being 60ft high, to achieve such perfect proportions.
Memphis there is also a massive statue of Ramsis II lying on its back, a portion of the original statue, its 13 metres length is perfectly proportioned. These are from the Era of the New Kingdom 3500 years ago, having among its leaders the most famous names in Egyptian Antiquity. That was Egypt's golden age.

We visited Dendera and Abydos

Finally we arrived at Gizeh, yet another capital of Egypt, present day Cairo being merely one of the cities which served as capital. Here we find the Great Sphinx (not the one and only sphinx as we might think as there are hundreds of sphinxes all over Egypt) and the intriguing Soalar Boat Museum.

The Sphinx dates to around 2350 BC. It's human face, of the Pharaoh Khafre whose tomb he guarded, on the body of a lion. Such is the pattern of sphinxes, placing the human head of the Pharaoh on the body of that powerful beast, the lion. This one is 20 metres tall and 73 metres long.

The Pyramids are from the Third Dynasty of Egyptian rulers. Precious little is known of the First and Second dynasty rulers of the land. But the
Hatshepsut the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut the female Pharaoh

She claimed a dream in which the Pharaohs told her she would rule to ascend the throne. Here she is portrayed as a Sphinx, with her own face shown.
Third Dynasty blossomed to reveal highly advanced knowledge of geometry and mathematics, sophisticated building techniques and artistry, they made Egypt one of the most powerful and wealthy countries for a thousand years. The first three Dynasties belong to the period before the year 4,150 B. C known as the OLD KINGDOM. The period of Pyramid building.

The Pyramid of Cheops also called Khufu was encased in highly polished white limestone which glowed, and under full moon light it radiated, evoking powerful emotions in the population. Set on a plateau in the desert it would have been mesmerizing. The Great Pyramid was made using 2.3 MILLION blocks of stone weighing 2 to 15 tons each. 30,000 men worked to build it. It stood 146 meters high. The Pyramid of Cheops has never been replicated by man, not even using today's modern technology. It is the only surviving wonder from the ancient Seven Wonders of the World though it was 2,000 years older than the others on the list. Cheops who designed and built it didn't indulge in having his images made, and is only known today by a small ivory carving.

The Pyramid sitting next to Khufu's was built
The Stepped Pyramid The Stepped Pyramid The Stepped Pyramid

Another early Pyramid design in the vast Necropolis of Saqqara, the City of the Dead.. Two hundred years of digging have not revealed its secrets buried under the desert sand since the 3rd Dynasty, around 2630 BC. for Djoser. The necropolis complex is 6km x 1.5km and the Step Pyramid is the oldest man made stone structure that we know of.
by his son Khafre. These were both rulers from the Third dynasty, which was therefore very early days among the 31 dynasties of Pharaohs.

The Pyramid of Khafre also called Chephren seems to be taller than Cheops because it stands at a slightly higher elevation and has a steeper angle. It's limestone casting remains partially intact at the peak. It measures 216 meters at the base of each of its four sides, and originally stood 143 metres high. The blocks used in building were limestone and granite weighing about 2.5 tons each. In the burial chamber underground there is a sarcophagus and lid in red granite. Meaning it was brought in from the Aswan region in the Upper Nile Valley to this desert plateau near the delta in the Lower Nile valley. The debate rages and speculation continues, trying to figure out HOW these ancient people cut and moved such massive blocks of stone, MILLIONS of them, five thousand years ago.



Smaller pyramids nearby were the last to be built. One was for the Pharaoh Menkaure. A further three smaller in stature were for three of Khufu' wives and flat topped ones for his favorite children.


Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


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Pyramid of Userkaf in  SaqqaraPyramid of Userkaf in  Saqqara
Pyramid of Userkaf in Saqqara

From the 5th dynasty, this has the unusual features of an external chapel and funerary temple. Pyramids enclose everything the decreased pharaoh owned and would need to journey through the under world, to emerge successfully in the after life.
The Step Pyramid of Djoser in SaqqaraThe Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara
The Step Pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara

Some outer buildings of the huge complex are nearby
On the desert plateau at GizehOn the desert plateau at Gizeh
On the desert plateau at Gizeh

The Great Pyramid of Khufu, plus the Pyramid of his son and successor Khafre. The minor pyramids were built by Khafre for his wife and family.
Illustrating the enormous size of these pyramids....  Illustrating the enormous size of these pyramids....
Illustrating the enormous size of these pyramids....

A camel passes between them in the desert
The Pyramid of KhafreThe Pyramid of Khafre
The Pyramid of Khafre

The only Pyramid still having a section of its casing, at the pinnacle.
Close up to the Pyramids Close up to the Pyramids
Close up to the Pyramids

This shows how many stone blocks were required to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu. After the Pyramid was built, it was encased in limestone and given a highly polished finish so that it shone like metal M .
Climbing the face of the Pyramid to the gate at the entrance to the tunnel Climbing the face of the Pyramid to the gate at the entrance to the tunnel
Climbing the face of the Pyramid to the gate at the entrance to the tunnel

They tried to kill me! 150 metre long shaft was barely high enough to allow bending, stooping or crawling along the steep incline. In enclosed airless heat. I don't know how I survived. But I know I nearly died, it took a while for me to catch my breath.
Just taking a look down the entrance shaf at  another Pyramid Just taking a look down the entrance shaf at  another Pyramid
Just taking a look down the entrance shaf at another Pyramid

This shaft is taller than the one at Gizeh. But they will never catch me going down again
With the Sphinx at Gizeh With the Sphinx at Gizeh
With the Sphinx at Gizeh

Surprisingly small!
View from the Gizeh plateau View from the Gizeh plateau
View from the Gizeh plateau

Looking to my hotel building across the road. The yellow structure on the left


15th October 2017

Wow
The pyramids seem breathtaking and you look so small beside them.
15th October 2017

Been there Done that!
Hi Margaret, Dougie and I did what you are doing via a Nile cruise in 2004 to celebrate retiring. your very detailed and informative blogs bring back the memories.
16th October 2017

Pyramids
We saw a few while at a stop over in Cairo... but only a few. Info here is very interesting. You will have to include it in your photo book eventually.
17th October 2017

Wow is right!
So happy you are enjoying this to the max, Margs. Thanks for sharing the info and photos with us!

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