Friday, October 23, 2009

Egypt...My Day With a Group of Greedily Grazing Graying Geezers Gazing at Giza...With Thanks to Uncle Alan

In order to visit the Pyramids, we took an excursion by bus from the wharf at Alexandria to Giza and Saqqara; the trip took 3+ hours. It was an interesting trip because it was all new and because of Egyptian drivers. Our guide warned us about this and she was right. Traffic laws and lines painted on the road are viewed as general guidelines only. I think the white lines are used for aiming guides. Pedestrians appear to be fair game. Anyway we made it there and back and saw lots of interesting things.

Below is a photograph of two cone like towers with holes in them. These are pigeon towers. Many Egyptian families have these towers and raise pigeons for food. At last someone has figured out something pigeons are good for. I had an uncle who tried that in WWII and then couldn't bring himself to kill them. Oh, well.

The first pyramid we visited was King Djoser's Step Pyramid at Saqqara. This apparently was the first pyramid ever built. It is about 200 feet tall and was constructed about 2650 BC. The architect was Imhotep. This pyramid reminded me a lot of pyramids in Mexico and Central America. Photographs below.

The Saqqara complex has other buildings and smaller pyramids. Below is a photograph of a frieze of cobras from one of the other buildings.

The colonnade at Saqqara, shown below, is apparently the earliest known one in the world. The roof is of modern construction. The fluting on the columns was done to make them look like a bundle of papyrus.

Between Saqqara and Giza we traveled on a road that ran along a canal. Below are photographs of scenes along the canal. All were taken from the bus.

Giza is now on the outskirts of Cairo, which is visible in the background of this picture. These are the three great pyramids of Giza--left to right, Cheops or Khufa, Khefre, and Menkaure. This is also the size order. Cheops is the biggest. They were built for grandfather, son and grandson.

No visit to the pyramids would be complete without camels.

The biggest pyramid is Cheops(Khufa), also called the Great Pyramid. It is 138.8 meters(40 stories) high on a base that is 230.5 meters on each side. It was the tallest man made structure in the world for 3800 years until the spire of Lincoln Cathedral was built, 1300 AD. The precision with which it was constructed is amazing. The four base sides have a mean error of 58 millimeters. the The base is flat and horizontal within 15 millimeters. Below are photographs of this Great Pyramid.

The pyramid of Khefre is the second largest pyramid, built by the son of Cheops. From some perspectives it appears taller than Cheops, but it is built on a higher piece of ground so gives the illusion of being taller. All three had a layer of limestone covering them at one time. This outer covering was removed piece by piece over centuries to use in other building projects. The only remaining covering is at the top of Khefre, seen below.

The Great Sphinx was carved from a single rock. Its face is that of Khefre, so the belief is it was carved around 2600 BC. It is not known what happened to the nose. The demise of the nose has been blamed on Napoleon or the Turks but the actual cause is unknown. The beard came off at some point and is now in the British Museum. Below are photographs of this lion with the head of a man.

The pyramids and the Sphinx leave me without adjectives. You can read about them and see umpteen photos, but none of this prepares you for the reality. Stunning!

1 comment:

  1. Of course it had to be the Great Brits who grazed the gravelly great Giza geezer.