2010-11-16

Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:02 PM | 1 comment

Bring on the Pyramids

On the morning of the third day of the conference, the local organizers arranged for a very nice trip to the Pyramids of Giza.
These are the big pyramids, the ones you always see pictures of in magazines, and they are right on the outskirts of Cairo. There are three main ones: Khufu (Cheops), Khafre, and Menkaure. Each built by a separate king (pharaoh) as a royal tomb. They were built around 2500 B.C.

We arrived at the pyramids around 9:30 AM. It was still hazy, but you can see the pyramid of Khufu looming over the entrance to the Giza complex. Thankfully, the haze lifted a bit as the sun warmed up the surface and mixed out some of the pollution.
Turning 180 degrees from the previous photo, you can see the cities of Giza and Cairo in the background.
The pyramids are directly behind me as I take this photo. I switched to a wide-angle lens at this point (thanks to Julie for showing me how to use it) so that I could take in the monumental views to follow.

That’s me in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was built during the reign of Khufu, so it is also called the Pyramid of Khufu (the Egyptian name) or Cheops (the Greek name). Here’s a handy link to information about the Giza pyramids as well as a map of the area.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pyramid_of_Giza

These next three photos are also of Khufu, viewed from the north side, looking south.
I tried to capture the scale of the structure by getting some people in the shot. Each of the blocks is huge, roughly 4 feet cubes, weighing many tons. It boggles the mind to contemplate the effort put into constructing these things, especially considering that they were built around 4500 years ago!

This next photo is also Khufu, but from a different perspective.
The view here is from the northeast corner, i.e., looking southwest. This view is similar to that shown on the Wikipedia page I linked above. Thank goodness I had the wide angle lens.

Now over on the northwest corner, looking south.
That’s the pyramid of Khafre in the background. Khafre was built after Khufu and is almost as large. You can also make out the smoother surface at the top of Khafre. Apparently, that smoother surface is smaller pieces of limestone, though it looks like plaster. The three main pyramids in this area all originally had that smoother surface over the whole structure, but it has crumbled over the years.

We got back in the bus and headed to the west side of the pyramids.
That’s Khufu on the left, Khafre in the middle, and Menkaure on the right. There are also smaller pyramid-like structures (queens’s tombs?) and other graves and structures in the area. You can see one of the smaller pyramid-like structures to the right of Menkaure.

Here’s a better shot of Khufu and Khafre.
The top of Khufu has crumbled, and you can see the finer “plaster” surface of Khafre pretty well in this shot.

And here is a close-up of Menkaure.
Though smaller than the other two, Menkaure is more streamlined and “neat” looking. Note the camels in the foreground. It may be smaller than the other two, but Menkaure is still huge.

The Great Sphinx is also on the grounds of Giza. We circled back on the bus to check that out before departing. The Sphinx was carved out of the pre-existing stone. That is, the stone was not brought in from elsewhere but rather cut right out the stone where it sits. Here’s some cool views of the Sphinx and pyramids together.
On our way back to the conference after the pyramids, I took this shot to illustrate how the massive structures loom over the city.
We also saw several people sweeping the sand off the highways. There’s trash and pollution all over the Cairo area, but they keep the streets pretty clean.
Before we made it back to the conference, the bus broke down. It was kind of disconcerting because the driver just stopped the bus on an off-ramp and got out, saying only “sorry”. Though it was fairly obvious to me that the bus had broken down, many on the bus had no idea why we had stopped. Picture yourself in that situation; you might have been startled to be in a stranded bus in the middle of Cairo with no idea why you had stopped. We were there for about 30 minutes before three smaller taxi buses arrived to take us the rest of the way.
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1 comment:

  1. Amazing pictures Kyle! I would love to go to Egypt as part of work. I am thinking I will probably never go to Egypt as I would have to pay a lot for it and stuff...There are a lot of other places I would hit first, though your photos have increased my interest to see pyramids in person.

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