2010-11-16

Posted by Julie Wiens Posted on 9:24 PM | 2 comments

More Pyramids...

Following the last day of the conference, the organizers took us to a really swanky outdoor restaurant in southern Cairo that overlooked the Citadel of Saladin. The camera didn’t take very good night shots (I didn’t have a tripod and I’m not an experienced photographer), so this photo doesn’t do the view justice.
With the conference over, we spend the next two days exploring more ancient and contemporary Egyptian culture. With the help and suggestions of one of our fellow conference attendees (Naoshin Haque), we arranged for an all-day tour of the area south of Cairo. Specifically, we went to Saqqara, Memphis, and Dahshur. There were 7 of us in two cars, so we were a bit more mobile and organized than before. It was both an incredibly fun and unsettling day. Fun because of all the awesome sites we saw with few if any other tourists around, and unsettling because of certain “locals” who constantly shadowed us looking for ways to separate us from our money.

First stop was Saqqara:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saqqara

It has a nice, small museum and some very accessible pyramids, including the famous “stepped” pyramid that is the oldest large pyramid in Egypt:
We delved down into one of the smaller pyramids here, through a creepy tunnel.
Then passed through a reconstructed colonnaded temple leading to the “Stepped” pyramid. I’m standing in front of a massive stone door of the temple. You can see the hinge of the door near the top.
Here’s the “Stepped” pyramid itself:
Next stop was Memphis. The drivers took us to the Memphis museum, but we weren’t in the mood for a museum when there were still so many real pyramids to explore, so we didn’t linger in Memphis. Instead we headed on to Dahshur, where we encountered the Red Pyramid, Bent Pyramid and Black Pyramid.

This is the Red Pyramid, with a path leading up to the entrance. If you squint, you can see a dog lying in the shadow of nearest-right stone outlining the path up to the entrance. I took a close up of the dog while he was yawning.
We climbed up to the entrance then made the arduous climb down into the Red Pyramid along a very narrow, very steep, and very low-ceilinged passageway. This was not for the faint of heart. We were short of breath and sore of leg when we reached the inner sanctum of the pyramid. (My legs were very sore the next day)
Unfortunately, flash photography was not allowed inside, so I don’t have a photo. The limestone inside had a red tint, hence the name of the pyramid. Apart from the impressive internal structure of the building, there was little else inside to take note off. I imagine the contents were either looted or transported to museums.

Next stop was the Bent Pyramid.
This one seemed to be as large as the Great Pyramid of Giza, but apparently it is not quite as large. The finer limestone plaster is better preserved though. We slowly made our way around the Bent Pyramid, marveling at the surroundings. Again, I tried to get a couple people in the frame next to the pyramid to give a sense of scale.
The next couple photos here are me standing next to the Bent Pyramid, with the Red Pyramid in the background.
After this fantastic day of pyramid-viewing, we were hungry for some authentic local food. Naoshin knew of a little place in the middle of crazy Cairo that served a traditional dish (that I think is called “kashuri”). After a metro ride and some hectic walking through hectic Cairo, we found the place. Really good food, and cheap too. We then found some falafel at a Cairo version of a fast food place. It was fast, but it was good. Somehow we navigated our way back to the metro and hotel for the night.
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2 comments:

  1. Geez Kyle... I am very jealous. My entire life reading Natl Geos, studying and teaching history has left a real yearning to visit these marvels. I love the stepped pyramid and your account of visiting. Thanks for taking me there with you.

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  2. Dang it Kyle! You are making us look bad...

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