Continuation of a trip which started on Jan. 23 (part 1)
A hazy windy day welcomed the group upon getting on the bus not sharply at 8:00 am Extended organizational matters and detailed information about the horrible sanitary condition of the Egyptian public toilets, at all sites and restaurants (despise the 5 Egyptian Lira charge) but excluding hotels, were thoroughly provided by our Israeli guide.
In addition Faris the Egyptian Guide, a Security Guard and a Security Police car, all accompanied us as well on our way.
The bus finally, departed after this prolonged delay, battling heroically the early morning massive traffic congestion, However supply of water bottles on the bus was missing..
Dry desolated Desert scenery right next to verdant Palm trees and cultivated fields coexist, right next to each other
An hour long drive from the Helnan Dream Hotel- at which we stayed, the previous night in Giza, took us toward the South to Saqqara (an Egyptian village in Badrashin in the Giza Governorate) , Initially it led us through more upscale neighborhoods and then the depleted ones started unfolding
A new city in the desert established in 1979 by a presidential decree of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat.
The satellite town, is part of Cairo urban area 20km outside the city with a population ranging between some 185,000 in the city to an estimated 500,000 inhabitants, many of who are Egyptian students and students from various countries, such as the Persian Gulf, Jordan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories, who study at its private universities.
Morning Rush Hour
The bus maneuvered skillfully through the congested neglectful poverty stricken neighborhoods, lined up along narrow elongated dirty water canal.
The canal is one out of many more, that are fed by diverted water from the Nile and which-supply the necessary watering system for the cultivated mass agriculture,
The display of the beautifully tended green fields,patches, a true feast for the eye, is seen in between only partly completed and depleted housing constructions.
The water canals require constant unclogging, digging out maintenance work to rid off the silt composite that cloges the shallow flow of the water. The silt is also used to rebuilt the canal’s depleting banks with the dug out heavy mud.
Saqqara - mysterious sacred place
The area contains ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty, serving as the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis, including several pyramids, in various decaying stages.
Pyramid of Djoser (Step Tomb) -the oldest complete stone building complex known in history,
Built for Pharaoh Djoser. (who ruled for 19 years) in 2700BC, by architect Imhotep,- chancellor of the pharaoh during 3rd Dynasty. (2670–2650 BC) as well as high priest of the God Ra.
God Ra - the king of the deities the father of all creation, and the patron of the sun, heaven, kingship, power, and light
Manetho. an Alexandrian priest who lived in the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the early 3rd BC divided the Egyptian Royal ruling into 30 dynasties
16 other Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara
There are also a number of mastaba tombs - "eternal house" -a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure, with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mud bricks,
Added tombs of High officials, dignitaries andand private funeral monuments can all be found there too.
North of the Saqqara site lies the Abusir pyramid complex, and to its south lies the Dahshur pyramid complex, and together with the Giza Pyramid complex to the far north comprise the Pyramid Fields of the Memphite Necropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
The area remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times.
Pyramid of Djoser - The step pyramid (or proto-pyramid)
The complex was a landmark achievement for Egyptian architecture. The pyramid, was enclosed by a wall 3 km long, and originally clad in polished white limestone. An advent of the pyramidal form of the royal tomb and the first instance of the mass use of limestone in construction, replacing mudbrick the building material prior.
Djoser's mortuary complex comprises of the great trench, enclosure wall, 42 colonnaded entrance,,2 burial chambers identical small and big 27 m, shaft, and 400 rooms deep underground
It was considered to be the earliest large-scale cut stone construction made by man, is the central feature of the complex and contain an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration.
The matched up Transportation on site
It was built in the 24thBC for the Egyptian pharaoh Unas,- the 9th and final king of the 5th Dynasty.
It is the smallest Old Kingdom pyramid, but significant due to the discovery of Pyramid Texts, first decorated burial pyramid with Hylographic on alabaster stone, inscribing funerary texts about the king's afterlife into the walls of the subterranean chambers.
Bulging etched images of king Unas
Turin List - a list of Parohnic kings that is known as the Turin Royal Canon, is an ancient Egyptian hieratic papyrus housed in the Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum) in Turin which also mentioned King Teti.
Several high officials who all served as viziers to King Teti - the first king of the the 6 Dynasty, (2345-2323 BC) were granted tombs.and are also buried in the Saqqara complex to the north of his pyramid.
Among the officials are::
We visited the tombs only the last two
Mereruka was a dignitary vizier during the reigns of Kings Teti (c.2345–2323 BC)
being the highest-ranking official, a husband of a daughter of Teti’s, a very powerful and wealthy man.
He held this title during the reigns of the first two rulers of the 6th Dynasty, a time when the elite’s power had grown substantially.
Reflecting his status he was buried in a mastaba to the north of the pyramid of Teti in Saqqara. , The pyramid didn’t last and is in deteriorating phase.
His burial complex is among the largest in the Teti cemetery, containing a total of
30 rooms, 6 for his wife, and another5 for his son It is among the most exquisitely decorated tombs of the Old Kingdom (c.2686–2181 BC). Beautiful scenes adorning vividly the walls of this tomb provide insight into life during the Old Kingdom like the herding of cattle, harpooning of hippopotami, and fishing
Egyptian Calendar Year was made up of only 3 seasons of 120 days each
Flooding of the Nile, Sowing of grains and Harvesting
Each season was divided into 4 months of 30 days and 12th months amd known by the names of their principal festivals.
Each month was divided into three 10-day periods known as decans or decades
and the calculation was based on solar calendar with a 365-day year
This civil calendar ran concurrently with an Egyptian lunar calendar which was used for some religious rituals and festivals
Ankhmahor held the titles of a Vizier, 'First under the King', and 'Overseer of the Great House' during the reign of King Teti.
Although the tomb is known as 'the Physician's Tomb' as it contains scenes of medical practices. surgical operations, including the circumcision of a priest. Ankhmahor wasn't a physician but a ka-priest
Other scenes in the tomb depict craftsmen at work, jewelry-making, metal-working, sculpting, funerary rites, and women dancing.
Ka-Priests and Sem Priests
ka-priest was paid by a family to perform the daily offerings at the tomb of the deceased. There were also sem priests who presided over mortuary rituals and conducted funeral services
The ancient Egyptians understood that their gods had prevailed over the forces of chaos through the creation of the world and relied upon humanity's help to maintain it.
The clergy of ancient Egypt did not preach, interpret scripture, proselytize, or conduct weekly services; their sole responsibility was to care for the god in the temple.
Sem priests presided over mortuary rituals, conducted funeral services,. mummified the corpse and recited the incantations while wrapping the mummy.
The sem priests were highly respected because they were responsible for the precise utterance of the spells which would guarantee eternal life to the deceased.
Through their chanting the soul -the Ka- which left the dead was enabled to navigate the afterlife and returns back , into the correct dead's mouth, after the gods recognized the mammafied dead's face.
The clergy had to undergo some kind of initiation ritual before assuming their position and had to follow practices related to Osiris in the afterlife as ritually directed in
The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
On the way to Lunch
All that ancient Egyptian "Black Magic" spells, Burial Tombs , and Travel of the Soul to the underworld, evoked an hunger wave, not just for soothing "food for the soul" but for real hearty "comfort food",
However for lunch we ended at a dinky Restaurant, conveniently located right next to the ticket office for Saqqara pyramids, where many traveling groups are brought in to "fuel on fast food" before continuing along with more of the day's morbid site-seeing
Restaurant Pharous -Al Badrashin
My freind Iris had a chance after the meal, to practice her Belly Dancing moves.
The Aborted Visit
A visit to the Serapeum was due in the original plan , However it was aborted in favor of having the lunch and making a visit to Memphis open air museum.
So below is what was missed
Serapeum of Saqqara - was the ancient Egyptian burial place for sacred bulls of the Apis cult. The bulls were incarnations of the god Ptah, which would become immortal after death as Osiris-Apis. The Greater Vaults of the Serapeum, known for the large sarcophagi for the mummified bulls,
One of the cult practices involved the dedication of commemorative stone tablets with dates relating to the life and death of the Apis. This data was crucial for the establishment of an Egyptian chronology in the 19th c
On the Way to Memphis
Another typical Nile Water Canal
In the Village of Mit Rahina
Memphis- The Biblical Mof - a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979
is also known as or Men-nefer
It was the first administrative capital of lower ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom and remained an important city and archaeological zone throughout ancient Egyptian history.
Its ruins are spread in the area's present-day village called Mit Rahina which is derived from the late Ancient Egyptian name for Memphis mjt-rhnt meaning:
"Road of the Ram-Headed Sphinxes
The site is over 5000 years old so little of the actual city remains, however several impressive artifacts and an array of statues that have been uncovered.
Located strategically, south off and at the mouth of the Nile Delta, on the west bank of the river, and about 24 km south of modern Cairo. it was a thriving commerce, trade, and religious center, home to bustling economic, ritual and cultural activities, which were facilitated by its principal port, high density of workshops, factories, and warehouses, that distributed food and merchandise throughout the ancient kingdom.
Memphis was believed to be under the protection of the god Ptah, the patron of craftsmen. Its great temple, Hut-ka-Ptah- "Enclosure of the ka of Ptah" -, was one
of the most prominent structures in the city
Supposedly the city was founded according to Manetho, the priest and historian who lived in the Ptolemaic Kingdom, by King Mene about 2925 BC who also united the 2 prehistoric kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Another name of the city was the "White Walls" which may have referred originally to the king’s palace, built of white washed bricks.
Jewish presence in Mof is documented in during first and second Temple
At the Open Air Museum
Among the most important monuments in the open museum of Mit Raheena - left from ancient Memphis are:
The statue of Ramses II at the entrance and the huge statue of Ramses II which lies on the ground.
Ramesses II son of Seti I, ruled for 66 years, from Thebes, near present-day Luxor, long after the height of Memphis’s power had waned in the 13th BC. .
He is regarded as the greatest, most celebrated and most powerful pharaoh of the
New Kingdom reigned -1279-1213 BC the 3rd ruler of the 19 Dynasty
At age 14, Ramesses was appointed as Egypt's prince regent by his father, Seti I.
He is known for his 90 children, his multiple wars and military expeditions that added to Egyptian lands such as Nubia, , Canaan and Phoenicia;.all commemorated in inscriptions at Beit el-Wali and Gerf Hussein. The Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites
He built extensively throughout Egypt -
buildings, temples monuments, and his admin capital Pi- Ramesses in the Nile Delta,
as well as the Abu Simbal temples in Nubia and this Ptah temple in Memphis.
He celebrated an unprecedented 13 or 14 Sed festivals — more than any other pharaoh
Estimates of his age at death are around 90 or 91 . Upon his death, he was buried in a tomb (KV7) in the Valley of the Kings; His body was later moved to the Royal Cache, where it was discovered by archaeologists in 1881.
Ramesses' mummy is on display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, located in the city of Cairo
Many more statues of Ramesses survived than any other Pharaoh.
Colossal statue of Ramsses II (one of a pair) carved in limestone and over 10m
Italian explorer Giovanni Battista Caviglia (1770–1845) discovered it near the southern gate of the temple of Ptah in 1820.
Statue of Alabaster in the image of the Sphinx
One of Ramsses' sons
Spinx at the Open Air Park Standing Statue of Ramses II Enormous Column Base
Sun Set at the End of this long day
To be continued....