Pyramids of Giza & Saqqara
Everything begins with the Book of the Dead, 3000 BC,
foundation of the Egyptian religion under the Pharaohs, in
which eternal life can be obtained by elaborate treatment of a
dead body, the process that led to what we call mummies.
The early Pharaohs became fixated upon building a grandiose
tomb for themselves. This is the Step Pyramid, their first
great achievement, over 4,700 years ago. The largest stone
structure of its time, it was built for Zoser; but the Pharaoh's
architect, Imhotep, has received more credit. The site is
Saqqara, near Giza, a mortuary complex (necropolis), close to
the ancient capital of Memphis.
The next advance, which we know best, came at Giza, where
three Pharaohs built their massive pyramids in a single
century. Size of these structures is a matter of perspective.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops, on the left, came first and is the
largest. On top of the previous page is a picture of Chepren's
Pyramid, which only looks bigger here because we are closer
to it. Chepren, son of Cheops, came second.
I tried to get all the Great Pyramid of Cheops into the frame,
but that proved to be impossible due to obstructions. This
was the best photo I could manage for Cheops.
Last in time, smallest, and easiest to photograph at Giza is the
Pyramid of the Pharaoh Mycerinus. Grave robbers were the
Pharaohs' permanent enemies throughout the centuries. The
Giza Pyramids amounted to advertisements, showing the
grave robbers exactly where to strike at the tombs. Glorious,
but impractical, pyramid tombs for the Pharaohs ended at
Giza. Later tombs would be hidden, although the grave
robbers still managed to loot all but one.
Here is interior of these tombs, always dark and
narrow passageways that may go up or down.
If making your way under these conditions bothers you,
don't go in. Just photograph the exteriors.
The camel ride is also optional, but I couldn't resist.
If you want to ride a camel, this is the best place,
since all three pyramids appear in the background.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the Intrepid
Berkeley Explorer's free video of Egypt by clicking on:
King Tut, Ramses, and Me