Our Blog - Cairo, Egypt

On Thursday, we did the pyramids. We started at the first pyramids which are less known than the later pyramids at Giza. The first was at Sakkarah, and is was the first pyramids that are known to have been built.

This is the first thing that you see once you park and start walking towards the complex. The necropolis at Sakkarah covers 8 kilometers and is the largest in Egypt.

Once you pass through the door in the picture above, you come into this area with lots of columns on both sides.

This is detail of the columns. As you can see, they are not free-standing, but where 1/2 column and 1/2 wall.

This is the "step pyramid" of Zoser, the pharoah who founded the 3rd dynasty. This is the first "pyramid" and started as a "mastaba" (which in Arabic means a bench). A mastaba was the burial chamber of nobility and court dignitaries and was rectangular with slightly inclined walls. Zoser entrusted one of this architects to build a better burial chamber and the pyramid was "born". The way this was built was just taking a mastaba (rectangular and inclined walls) and building them on top of each other and to the sides of each other, forming the 6 steps.

There are also various other buildings in the complex

You will see this at various of the pyramids. The rocks today look quite rough, but when they were built the sides were smooth. They were built of the large blocks you mostly see today and then "cased" with these very smooth and more white rocks.

This is a worker at the sit, working on one of the stones that probably will be put up in some of the reconstruction work. Most of the pyramids were found just as you see them today. Some of the temples and the casing areas, for example, have been worked on to show the difference and how they would have been.

Snakes, especially cobras, were very important to the Egyptians. Here are a set of cobras shown as decoration on one of the temple walls.

The second stop was about 2 kilometers from the Sakkarah complex, to Dahshur. This was interesting in that there were very few people here and it seems like it is on the grounds or right next to a military installation. We had to have a person at the gate get into the van and stay with us for the entire time we were on the property. There are 5 pyramids here: 3 built of stone and 2 of brick.

Here you can see the walkway and steps that go 1/2 way up the pyramid to the "door". At this pyramid, Tom and I were able to actually go INTO the pyramid!! Unlike what we thought, a pyramid is mostly built of solid rock with only 2 or 3 8-10 ft rooms on the interior which are the burial chambers. To enter the pyramid, you halfway crawl down a 28 degree decline in a 4x4 tunnel. This takes you to the first room, which is now totally empty. Then a small tunnel again to the 2nd room, and then a ladder up about 10 feet into the 3rd room.

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