After the pyramids and the surrounding areas, including a quick view of the pyramid of the son Khafre, we jumped in the car and headed to a plateau called ‘the panorama’ – for obvious reasons.
The individuals provide a sense of magnitude ….
We drove here for a specific purpose, a camel ride. The cost was 50 L.E. each (£10 or $20USD). It lasts for 20 minutes and gives you a great view of the pyramids. Plus, riding a camel is pretty cool. What is amazing about these camels is the noise, they bellow and grunt at a volume that can be a bit startling.
While looking through the pictures I noticed that a twister formed and crossed the picture frames in about 10 seconds while the guide was taking our family photo. The first picture shows it starting, the second shows it over my right shoulder (hard to see). By my estimate, it is 200M high – as it is much higher than the pyramid …. cool.
The camel camp.
Our last stop (and it was getting time .. the 40 degrees was starting to take a toll) was the Great Sphinx. The history of the Sphinx is interesting. Many of the Egyptian statues were defaced over time by men, the ultimate insult being the removal of the nose. The head of the Sphinx was used for target practice for Napoleon’s cannons:
The one-metre-wide nose on the face is missing. Some legends claim that the nose was broken off by a cannon ball fired by Napoléon’s soldiers and that it still survives, as do diverse variants indicting British troops, Mamluks, and others. However, sketches of the Sphinx by Dane Frederick Lewis Norden made in 1737 and published in 1755 illustrate the Sphinx without a nose. The Egyptian historian al-Maqrizi, writing in the fifteenth century, attributes the vandalism to Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, a Sufi fanatic from the khanqahof Sa’id al-Su’ada. In 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa’im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism. Al-Maqrizi describes the Sphinx as the “Nile talisman” on which the locals believed the cycle of inundation depended.
In addition to the lost nose, a ceremonial pharaonic beard is thought to have been attached, although this may have been added in later periods after the original construction. Egyptologist Rainer Stadelmann has posited that the rounded divine beard may not have existed in the Old or Middle Kingdoms, only being conceived of in the New Kingdom to identify the Sphinx with the god Horemakhet (citation needed-see ref.11&12). This may also relate to the later fashion of pharaohs, which was to wear a plaited beard of authority—a false beard (chin straps are actually visible on some statues), since Egyptian culture mandated that men be clean shaven. Pieces of this beard are today kept in the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum.
The last removal of sand was 1926 as the desert keeps covering up the Sphinx. The most natural state of the Sphinx is the body covered with only the head showing. Restoration continues ….
I wonder who is buried in the tomb beside the Sphinx?
The next day we went to the Egyptian museum, but they won’t let you take pictures and are really tight on security. The benefit of the tour guide became apparent again as he took us from exhibit to exhibit. The most interesting were:
- The mummies. Standing over the exhibit, looking at 3000 year old mummies – seeing remnants of their hair and features is amazing. I was struck by an odd thought while I looked on – imagine how distraught these ‘mighty men’ would be if they knew that millions of people walked by the remnants of their once mighty corpses every day. Not what they envisioned, I am sure.
- King Tut:The only tomb that was never raided from a minor boy Pharaoh, it is the least impressive of all of the tombs but the only one to yield it’s treasures. To see those treasures makes you realize just how much has been lost to tomb raiders. The collection is amazing, one can only imagine what was in a major Pharaoh’s tomb ….
- Of interest, there are 120,000 pieces of history on display and another 150,000 stored away. Unbelievable.
Of course, I may have snuck in a picture or two (without aiming so I would not draw attention):
A great start – but only the start.