Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Trip To The Desert

Note: Sorry about the low-quality of the photos. Some were taken without flash, and others were downsized a lot so I could add so many to today’s post.

6:00am: Alarm clocks ring. We’re tired, but we excitedly get up and start putting on clothes. After a very small breakfast, we put on sunscreen, check our bags and head down to the street.

7:30am: We haggled a very reasonable price from the hotel, so we hopped into our cab and started the journey to Saqqara. Our music on the way reminded me of middle school: Celine Dion, Shakira, Michael Jackson, and Evanesence. Why he was playing that kind of music, I don’t know.

8:30am: After the long drive, we arrived at Saqqara. Our first stop was the Saqqara museum and if you’ve never been, I HIGHLY suggest it. It turned out to be one of my favorite museums I’ve been to in Egypt. When I was here 2 years ago, the only thing we did in Saqqara was the Step Pyramid, so I found myself wishing Dan was with me to see all the neat things. They had some beautiful Old Kingdom pieces and some things I’ve never seen parallels for before. They even have the section of the Unas causeway that shows all the emaciated people on display (sorry, no photography was allowed, so you’ll have to google it).

Next we went to some of the mastabas next to the Step Pyramid. We went into 3 and saw that outsides of several other closed ones. It was really nice to see some of the images I’ve seen in books, including the giant images of bread-making from the Tomb of Ti (out by Teti’s pyramid).

The circle of life, people. 

After the mastabas we did a few fun photos by the Step Pyramid. I was a little disappointed to see all the scaffolding still there, but at least we saw a few guys working on it.

The big reason we came to Saqqara was to see the newly-opened serapeum! It’s only been open a month, so we’re the first of the OI to see it in person. The serapeum is a catacomb for the Apis bulls, big bulls that were revered in ancient times. The place is huge and the coffins must have weighed something like 3 tons each. They were solid black granite and towered over us. It was SO cool. I could have stayed there for hours and hours, even though there wasn’t really that much to see.

The inside of the serapeum. SO BLOODY COOL! It was basically a long hallway with burials on either side set deep into the ground.

We got to go down next to one of them. As you can see, my 5'4" self doesn't come anywhere near the top of the sarcophagus, not to mention the lid! And all made of black granite. It was good to be an Apis bull back then.

The last stop in Saqqara was to the pyramid of Teti (no photos allowed there, either, and that was enforced). After walking along a shaft that was only about 4ft tall, we came into a chamber that was only about the size of my living room. The best part about the pyramid was that it was full of pyramid texts! It was SO great to see them in person, instead of just in a book. A room to the left had more texts and the sarcophagus, while a room on the right originally held two statues.

Teti's pyramid was not that impressive on the outside, but really awesome on the inside.

11:00am: We hopped back into the car and drove out to Dahshur to see more pyramids! Our music this time was really terrible lounge-singer covers of English songs. I cringed especially hard during “Stairway to Heaven”.

11:40am: Arrived in Dahshur. We started with the Red Pyramid, which you can actually go inside of, as well. There was an extremely long downward-sloping passage, again only a few feet high, that eventually opened up into a large corbel-vaulted hall. There were several rooms like that, and they even let you climb up some stairs to get closer and see where the sarcophagus originally was.

We had to walk up all of those stairs to that platform about halfway up. Then the passage inside led allllll the way back down and underground.

Inside the Red Pyramid. The stairs lead up to the burial chamber. See the corbelled roof?

After the Red it was on to the Bent, just a short bit away. It’s one of my favorites and still has a lot of the original casing. You can’t go inside any more because it is extremely dangerous, but we walked around outside for a while. They changed the slope partway through construction because the angle they started with was too steep (give ‘em a break, it was their first attempt at a true pyramid), giving it the bent appearance.

12:40pm: We were finally tired enough to go home after all of that. We had wanted to do Meidum, as well, but it was going to be another hour or so out and we wanted to get back to Cairo before it got dark, so maybe Lindsey and I will go out there another day. The trip home we got to enjoy what can only be described as the classical station. None of the songs were actually classical music songs, but they were all instrumental.

2:20pm: Arriving back to our hotel, exhausted and stinky, we discovered that the hotel had no hot water. So we all are currently taking very short ones and not getting very clean. Since we haven’t eaten much all day other than the snacks we brought with us, we’ll probably have dinner soon. Hopefully, the hot water will return before we do!

In all, today was AWESOME!!! I’m so glad we went out to see everything today. Hope you enjoyed the pictures- I have a ton more!