FFF: Giza Plateau, Egypt

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday, I am reposting this from 2 years ago.

https://amoralegria.com/2019/02/05/journey-to-egypt-part-2-giza-pyramids-an-ancient-boat-camels-the-sphinx/

Posted on  by amoralegria

December 24, 2018

Our first full day in Cairo began with a trip to Giza to see the famous pyramids and the Sphinx. Egyptologists have identified 118-138 pyramids commissioned by ancient pharaohs as burial tombs. The oldest known pyramid is the step pyramid located in Saqqara, which we did not visit.

Egyptian pyramid building was developed over time. The step pyramid was the first pyramid structure, but to develop a smooth, continuous line took several attempts before the geometric measurements were just right. If too wide at the base, the pyramid would cave in for lack of sufficient support. If too narrow, it would become “top-heavy” and collapse under the weight of the stone. There is a pyramid known as the “bent pyramid” (which is not at Giza), that has sides that are somewhat curved.

The pyramids of Giza, including the Great Pyramid, are located in the Giza complex about 13 km (8 miles) from downtown Cairo, on the edge of the Western Desert.

20181224_094654
One of our first views of the Great Pyramid, the sun rising over it.

They were built at the height of pyramid building during times of absolutist rule, about 2580-2560 BCE (Before Common Era – formerly known as BC, Before Christ). The largest and oldest of these, the Great Pyramid, or The Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), was part of a complex consisting of a valley temple (which no longer exists) and the mortuary temple of the pharaoh Khufu (2nd pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty in ancient Egypt’s “Old Kingdom”), of which only the basalt pavement remains. The mortuary temple was connected to the pyramid containing the pharaoh’s tomb. The complex took about 20 years to build and the pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.

Giza_pyramid_complex_(map).svg
Map of Giza complex

Originally the Great Pyramid was covered with a smooth layer of limestone and some of the stones used can be seen around the base.

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20181224_101754

The pyramid consists of 2.3 million blocks of stone obtained from nearby quarries. Since building it took 20 years, this means that an average of 12 of the blocks would have to be put into place every hour, 24/7!  The largest granite stones used in the King’s burial chamber, weighing 20 or more tons each, were transported all the way from Aswan, more than 800 km (500 miles) away!

SONY DSC
Looking up the east side of the Great Pyramid

Although the Greeks suggested the pyramids had been built by slave labor, modern discoveries of a work camp associated with Giza indicate that they were probably built by skilled workers, organized into groups according to skill level.

Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo.

DSC_0030
I am 5’6″ – compare my size with just one of the huge stones behind me that were used to build the Great Pyramid!Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo. 

The original entrance to the Great Pyramid is on the north, about 17 meters (56 feet) vertically above ground level. This entrance, although blocked off, can still be seen today.
20181224_095949You can also climb partway up the pyramid under this sealed entrance.

M&M on Great Pyramid (2)_LI
The red arrow points to Dale and me climbing up the base of the pyramid. 

This diagram shows the entrance, passages and chambers inside the pyramid, but access today is forbidden. In the King’s Chamber, the only object is a rectangular sarcophagus, which was likely lowered into the chamber before the top of the pyramid was added.
Great_Pyramid_Diagram.svg

20181224_102616.jpg

On the east side of the Great Pyramid were three smaller pyramids for King Khufu’s three wives and it is possible to go inside one of these. A cavernous hole in the side of this structure is the entrance. You descend into a lower chamber on a ramp fitted with slats to maintain your footing. I took one look and said, “No, thanks!”

However, Dale and some of the others in our group did go down there. Inside the chamber there is really nothing at all to see. Someone took these photos of Dale and fellow group member Nancy Wheeler inside the empty chamber.

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Around the outside of Khufu’s pyramid are boat pits large enough to hold full-sized boats. The ancient Egyptians believed that boats would be necessary to transport the king and his family to the afterlife.

Barque_solaire-Decouverte3
These heavy stones were laid on top of the boat pits to preserve and seal in the boats underneath. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

One of the ships sealed inside the pits has been reconstructed and now resides in the Giza Solar Boat Museum.

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Heading toward the Giza Solar Boat Museum
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Model_of_Khufu's_solar_barque
Model of Khufu’s boat, inside the museum (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
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The Great Pyramid with queens’ pyramids alongside, from the causeway near the Sphinx.

Next we took a camel ride.
20181224_114849
I had never ridden a camel before so my only experience riding an animal was on horses. First the handler has the camel get down into seated position so the rider can mount.  Its front legs bend first, then its back legs. Camels have very flexible knee joints! (I hope they don’t get arthritis!)
SONY DSC
Mounting the camel wasn’t that easy – I had trouble getting my right leg over its back!
Once I was on, the handler motioned for me to hold onto the saddle horns, both front and back, while the camel stood up again, going through the same motions it used to sit down. It was like being on a bucking bronco!

I continued holding onto both saddle horns, even though it was a bit awkward, until the handler told me to hold only the one in front. He also motioned me to sit farther forward, almost until I was practically sitting on the camel’s neck.
20181224_120023d
I then gripped the front saddle horn and hung on for dear life. A camel moves very differently from a horse – it’s almost an undulating motion, as if we were at sea…perhaps that is one reason why camels are called the “ships of the desert.” Their bodies, while seemingly gangly, are uniquely suited to the desert environment.

DSC_0037
DSC_0036

My experience, however, was not helped by the fact that my camel was a naughty beast! Instead of following the handler’s instructions, who eventually had to hold him on a tighter rein, he would wander in the opposite direction until pulled back, or approached another camel for a little tête-a-tête! Also, he kept bumping up against another camel ridden by a young woman in our group, so that my foot was crushed between two camel bodies! (No harm done, except that my shoes smelled like camel for the rest of the trip!)

20181224_120335(0)d
The handler insisted on taking multiple photographs of us on our camels – this is the best of them, in my opinion!

I was greatly relieved when it was time to get off – although it required that “bucking bronco” movement again!

Here are some sketches I made of my camel in my journal later:
20190205_163056_002 - camel sketch20190205_163300 - camel foot sketch
After this memorable experience, we visited the Sphinx and the Valley Temple of Khafre (see map above), but first, we viewed the Giza plateau from the vantage point of a hill where we had gotten off the camels.
SONY DSC

The Sphinx, while it dwarfs in comparison to the pyramids behind it, is the largest sculpture in the world carved from one solid piece of rock: cut from limestone bedrock,  the head has since been restored using layers of blocks.
SONY DSC

The Sphinx was a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head. The Great Sphinx of Giza is thought to represent the king Khafre, whose pyramid tomb stands behind it.  Although the head and much of the body has eroded over time, its long front legs and paws are solid rock.DSC_0051

The Great Sphinx faces east and is 73 meters (240 feet) long from paw to tail. At its highest point it is 20.21 m (66.3 ft) tall, and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. It was built during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, during the reign of King Khafre (c. 2558-2532 BCE).
20181224_125237

In between the paws of the Sphinx, there is a stela (an upright stone slab on which is carved some kind of inscription, like gravestones) created during the New Kingdom by Thutmose IV (son of Amenhotep II) describing a dream which justifies his right to rule. A brief description of this dream is in an online article Between the Paws of the Sphinx by Dr. David Livingston:

Thutmosis had been strenuously driving his chariot over the desert. After awhile, he lay down in the shadow of the Sphinx’ head, all that was visible above the sand. While sleeping, the Sphinx came to him in a dream and assured the future Pharaoh that if he cleared the sands away, the Sphinx would, in turn, make Thutmosis the next ruler. Thutmosis did so and, sure enough, he became the next Pharaoh!

20181224_125319
Causeway which originally led to the funerary temple of King Khafre

Although it is possible to look at this stela between the Sphinx’s paws, we did not do this, instead going into the Valley Temple of Khafre which is in front of it.

20181224_124052
20181224_124229
20181224_124002
Why are we all looking down at the ground?
20181224_124028
Because Mohamed (our trip leader) pointed out that the original granite floor of the temple was still visible here.

Sources for the historical and technical information above were from the following online articles:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Pyramids of Giza
Great Sphinx of Giza

Next: Christmas Eve Dinner and Visit to a MosqueTags:Ancient CivilizationsBoatsCamelsChurches & TemplesEgyptGizaHistoric SitesHistoryMonolithsPhotographyPyramidsRuinsTransportationTravelogueCategories:AfricaAncient Art And Historical SitesEgyptPhotographyTravelTravel JournalWriting

CB&WPC: Long

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week is things that are long.

Long necks
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Long necks and long legs!SONY DSC
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Long stem (bell stand) and long trunk (palm tree)
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Man-made long-ness:
The Sphinx’s long front legs
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Long stairway
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Tall minarets
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Long (and tall) bridge
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Tall obelisks (they were long before they were hoisted into position 😉 )
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Long-necked tower
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Very long building! (and this is only a partial view!)
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One Word Sunday: Feet in Nature and Art

Debbie at Travel With Intent has a weekly photo challenge called One Word Sunday. This week the theme is feet.
Kitty feet!
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Egyptian geese feet
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Camel feet
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My feet – on a beach in Rio de Janeiro
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I’m sad to say…here’s what one of my feet looks like now! 😮
20190812_223731 subject for future drawing
I’ve actually done several drawings of feet – this is one of them.

20190812_223132 Ballet Feet (c1970)
“Ballet Feet” (circa 1970) – pencil on drawing paper

 

 

 

Journey to Egypt, Part 20: If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be…the Daraw Livestock Market

January 1, 2019 (Tuesday)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Today was a light day sightseeing-wise, which was a good thing. Dale and I were up late watching a movie about the Exodus (not the original movie; a newer version) and today we had time to just relax on our last day onboard the Aida.

In fact, Dale chose not to visit the Daraw Livestock Market, so he stayed behind and relaxed.

To get to the livestock market, we rode in the backs of trucks through the city of Daraw.
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Street scenes along the way:
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In the middle of town, bustling with people and vehicles of all description, we were stopped at a railroad crossing. In spite of the flashing lights and lowering of a bar in front of the track, no train came – at least not for a long time. Everyone waited patiently, however. While we were sitting and waiting for the train, which finally came and rumbled by slowly (it was a long train), I took the opportunity to people watch.

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The man on the right, sitting with two others, has shoes that look like leopard skin!

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Then we were on our way again!

We began to see trucks hauling animals as we approached the market.

We finally arrived and got out of the trucks into the dusty sea of humanity and various species of domesticated animals.
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The market is often called the Daraw Camel Market, because this is the largest camel market in the Middle East.20190101_105704
Traditionally the camels have come up from Sudan on foot, but now they more often arrive via Toyota pickup trucks, like the animals we saw on our way here.
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The camel drivers rent these trucks at Abu Simbel for the last part of their trip. Merchants from Cairo are the most likely customers. Camels are also sold to farmers or for slaughter.

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One leg of each camel is tied up at the knee joint so they don’t escape. We were assured that this does not hurt the camel.

I posed for a photo with the camel handler that we talked to. While we were talking to him, another man with bad teeth and wrinkled skin approached and started speaking to the camel handler in rapid-fire Arabic. The camel handler replied something and they both laughed. Mohamed translated: the man with bad teeth had seen one of the women in our group, Lola, and had taken a fancy to her. He had come to ask her to marry him! Of course, Mohamed told him no and he went away. But for the rest of the trip, we teased Lola, a single, well-dressed New Yorker in her 70s, about her “fiancé!”
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Donkey and a bovine calf tied up behind a truck
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The market sells other things besides animals. Supposedly they sell produce (but we didn’t see it) as well as ropes, harnesses and other equipment for use with the animals.

The place smelled of dust, animal, and human sweat. But as we moved through the market, another smell became apparent: that of blood and freshly slaughtered animals. I looked beyond the crowd and saw a tent under which slaughtered beef was hanging. I did take a photo but have not included it here. Nor did I get any closer to that area!
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Most of the adult cattle were very skinny, even the calves, but not as much.
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Storefront across from the entrance to the market. I wish I knew what the signs say!
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We were driven back over the bumpy dusty roads and when we arrived at the dock, I resolved to change my clothes the moment I was back on board the Aida!
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Journey to Egypt, Part 2: Giza – Pyramids, an Ancient Boat, Camels, & the Sphinx

December 24, 2018

Our first full day in Cairo began with a trip to Giza to see the famous pyramids and the Sphinx. Egyptologists have identified 118-138 pyramids commissioned by ancient pharaohs as burial tombs. The oldest known pyramid is the step pyramid located in Saqqara, which we did not visit.

Egyptian pyramid building was developed over time. The step pyramid was the first pyramid structure, but to develop a smooth, continuous line took several attempts before the geometric measurements were just right. If too wide at the base, the pyramid would cave in for lack of sufficient support. If too narrow, it would become “top-heavy” and collapse under the weight of the stone. There is a pyramid known as the “bent pyramid” (which is not at Giza), that has sides that are somewhat curved.

The pyramids of Giza, including the Great Pyramid, are located in the Giza complex about 13 km (8 miles) from downtown Cairo, on the edge of the Western Desert.

20181224_094654
One of our first views of the Great Pyramid, the sun rising over it.

They were built at the height of pyramid building during times of absolutist rule, about 2580-2560 BCE (Before Common Era – formerly known as BC, Before Christ). The largest and oldest of these, the Great Pyramid, or The Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), was part of a complex consisting of a valley temple (which no longer exists) and the mortuary temple of the pharaoh Khufu (2nd pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty in ancient Egypt’s “Old Kingdom”), of which only the basalt pavement remains. The mortuary temple was connected to the pyramid containing the pharaoh’s tomb. The complex took about 20 years to build and the pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.

Giza_pyramid_complex_(map).svg
Map of Giza complex

Originally the Great Pyramid was covered with a smooth layer of limestone and some of the stones used can be seen around the base.

The pyramid consists of 2.3 million blocks of stone obtained from nearby quarries. Since building it took 20 years, this means that an average of 12 of the blocks would have to be put into place every hour, 24/7!  The largest granite stones used in the King’s burial chamber, weighing 20 or more tons each, were transported all the way from Aswan, more than 800 km (500 miles) away!

SONY DSC
Looking up the east side of the Great Pyramid

Although the Greeks suggested the pyramids had been built by slave labor, modern discoveries of a work camp associated with Giza indicate that they were probably built by skilled workers, organized into groups according to skill level.

Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo.

DSC_0030
I am 5’6″ – compare my size with just one of the huge stones behind me that were used to build the Great Pyramid!Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo. 

The original entrance to the Great Pyramid is on the north, about 17 meters (56 feet) vertically above ground level. This entrance, although blocked off, can still be seen today.
20181224_095949You can also climb partway up the pyramid under this sealed entrance.

M&M on Great Pyramid (2)_LI
The red arrow points to Dale and me climbing up the base of the pyramid. 

This diagram shows the entrance, passages and chambers inside the pyramid, but access today is forbidden. In the King’s Chamber, the only object is a rectangular sarcophagus, which was likely lowered into the chamber before the top of the pyramid was added.
Great_Pyramid_Diagram.svg

On the east side of the Great Pyramid were three smaller pyramids for King Khufu’s three wives and it is possible to go inside one of these. A cavernous hole in the side of this structure is the entrance. You descend into a lower chamber on a ramp fitted with slats to maintain your footing. I took one look and said, “No, thanks!”
20181224_102616.jpg
However, Dale and some of the others in our group did go down there. Inside the chamber there is really nothing at all to see. Someone took these photos of Dale and fellow group member Nancy Wheeler inside the empty chamber.

Around the outside of Khufu’s pyramid are boat pits large enough to hold full-sized boats. The ancient Egyptians believed that boats would be necessary to transport the king and his family to the afterlife.

Barque_solaire-Decouverte3
These heavy stones were laid on top of the boat pits to preserve and seal in the boats underneath. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

One of the ships sealed inside the pits has been reconstructed and now resides in the Giza Solar Boat Museum.

20181224_105005
Heading toward the Giza Solar Boat Museum

 

 

Model_of_Khufu's_solar_barque
Model of Khufu’s boat, inside the museum (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

 

SONY DSC
The Great Pyramid with queens’ pyramids alongside, from the causeway near the Sphinx.

Next we took a camel ride.
20181224_114849
I had never ridden a camel before so my only experience riding an animal was on horses. First the handler has the camel get down into seated position so the rider can mount.  Its front legs bend first, then its back legs. Camels have very flexible knee joints! (I hope they don’t get arthritis!)
SONY DSC
Mounting the camel wasn’t that easy – I had trouble getting my right leg over its back!
Once I was on, the handler motioned for me to hold onto the saddle horns, both front and back, while the camel stood up again, going through the same motions it used to sit down. It was like being on a bucking bronco!

I continued holding onto both saddle horns, even though it was a bit awkward, until the handler told me to hold only the one in front. He also motioned me to sit farther forward, almost until I was practically sitting on the camel’s neck.
20181224_120023d
I then gripped the front saddle horn and hung on for dear life. A camel moves very differently from a horse – it’s almost an undulating motion, as if we were at sea…perhaps that is one reason why camels are called the “ships of the desert.” Their bodies, while seemingly gangly, are uniquely suited to the desert environment.

My experience, however, was not helped by the fact that my camel was a naughty beast! Instead of following the handler’s instructions, who eventually had to hold him on a tighter rein, he would wander in the opposite direction until pulled back, or approached another camel for a little tête-a-tête! Also, he kept bumping up against another camel ridden by a young woman in our group, so that my foot was crushed between two camel bodies! (No harm done, except that my shoes smelled like camel for the rest of the trip!)

20181224_120335(0)d
The handler insisted on taking multiple photographs of us on our camels – this is the best of them, in my opinion!

I was greatly relieved when it was time to get off – although it required that “bucking bronco” movement again!

Here are some sketches I made of my camel in my journal later:
20190205_163056_002 - camel sketch20190205_163300 - camel foot sketch
After this memorable experience, we visited the Sphinx and the Valley Temple of Khafre (see map above), but first, we viewed the Giza plateau from the vantage point of a hill where we had gotten off the camels.
SONY DSC

The Sphinx, while it dwarfs in comparison to the pyramids behind it, is the largest sculpture in the world carved from one solid piece of rock: cut from limestone bedrock,  the head has since been restored using layers of blocks.
SONY DSC

The Sphinx was a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head. The Great Sphinx of Giza is thought to represent the king Khafre, whose pyramid tomb stands behind it.  Although the head and much of the body has eroded over time, its long front legs and paws are solid rock.DSC_0051

The Great Sphinx faces east and is 73 meters (240 feet) long from paw to tail. At its highest point it is 20.21 m (66.3 ft) tall, and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. It was built during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, during the reign of King Khafre (c. 2558-2532 BCE).
20181224_125237

In between the paws of the Sphinx, there is a stela (an upright stone slab on which is carved some kind of inscription, like gravestones) created during the New Kingdom by Thutmose IV (son of Amenhotep II) describing a dream which justifies his right to rule. A brief description of this dream is in an online article Between the Paws of the Sphinx by Dr. David Livingston:

Thutmosis had been strenuously driving his chariot over the desert. After awhile, he lay down in the shadow of the Sphinx’ head, all that was visible above the sand. While sleeping, the Sphinx came to him in a dream and assured the future Pharaoh that if he cleared the sands away, the Sphinx would, in turn, make Thutmosis the next ruler. Thutmosis did so and, sure enough, he became the next Pharaoh!

20181224_125319
Causeway which originally led to the funerary temple of King Khafre

Although it is possible to look at this stela between the Sphinx’s paws, we did not do this, instead going into the Valley Temple of Khafre which is in front of it.

20181224_124002
Why are we all looking down at the ground?

 

20181224_124028
Because Mohamed (our trip leader) pointed out that the original granite floor of the temple was still visible here.

Sources for the historical and technical information above were from the following online articles:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Pyramids of Giza
Great Sphinx of Giza

Next: Christmas Eve Dinner and Visit to a Mosque