Tuesday, 12 July 2022

I'm Off My Beaten Track in Giza...

...today.  Come and join me as I explore the pyramids at Giza again through the jottings in the journal I kept whilst in Egypt...

I woke up early feeling refreshed but, on glancing in the bathroom mirror I found a panda to be staring back at me.  I knew I had slept for some part of the night but I couldn't pinpoint when.  I remembered, seemingly hearing all the traffic but I knew I had woken suddenly from a very deep sleep when the alarm went off.  Perhaps I hadn't slept at all and just imagined that I had!
A punishing schedule today and it begins with a short coach ride through Cairo and across the river and then out into the western desert to Giza...
...I'm astounded to discover that the pyramids are kind-of at the end of the street in a suburb of Cairo.  We drove down a wide road with apartment blocks on one side and suddenly the road started to climb slightly and immediately in front of us were the pyramids.
The coach driver stopped at the local camel park and gave us the option of travelling the short distance to the monuments by camel.  I declined.  Camels don't come with sunshades or air conditioning as standard.  Neither are they properly instructed in the use of deodorant and after shave.  They look so damned imperious, too and the one I was offered was just way too tall!
The pyramids are vast.  Much larger than I had imagined.  And that realisation made it all the more difficult to work out how such a thing was built.  The great pyramid of Cheops was built in about 2600 BC.  Cheops is the ancient Greek name for the  Fourth Dynasty Pharoah Khufu.  His pyramid was constructed of about 2 million blocks of granite each estimated to weigh about 2 1/2 tons.  The exterior of the monument was once covered with polished limestone blocks so that the sides were completely smooth.  Each side faces a compass point and as the sun rose in the sky each day the pyramid would have reflected its light across the funery complex and the desert.  The shape of the pyramid is a copy of the ben - ben stone.  This was a sacred symbol of the sun god at Heliopolis - now the name of a suburb of Cairo.
The second pyramid is that of Chephren - Ancient Egyptian name, Khafre.  Khafre was the brother of Khufu and his successor to the throne of Lower Egypt.  The third and smallest pyramid was built for the Pharoah Menkaure.  The burial chamber in the pyramid of Chephren was our goal.  The descending passage was just over a metre high, it then levelled out into a second passage about 2 metres high for a short distance before shortening again into a tunnel that lead to the chamber.  There was nothing there!  Nothing other than the painted monica of Giovanni Belzoni - the C19th circus strongman who used his knowledge of hydraulics to plunder the larger ancient objects that had been left by smaller less well informed robbers.
The landscape of the Western Desert
Back in the sunshine, which had become almost unbearable searing heat, and I could straighten up and stand and gaze for a moment at the incredible sight before me and take in the landscape of the desert.
How did those ancient Egyptians do it?  Understanding the scale of these monuments showed that the man power involved must have been highly organised and skilled.  To attract such a labour force must mean that they were rewarded for their work either in wages or in kind or both.  Their homes must have been near by otherwise too much time would have been lost in travelling backwards and forwards to visit their families.  Naturally they had a deadline to work to - the pyramid had to be completed in time for the Pharaohs funeral.  Not all Pharaohs reigned for 67 years as Ramses II did.
Next, the solar boats and the sphinx…

You can read more about the city of Cairo Here and there will be more jottings from my Egypt journal next month.


  1. What an interesting post. Will Jacques have a case to solve in Cairo?

  2. Thanks, Allan. As for Jacques solving a case there, I hadn't really thought about it, buy maybe...