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Album: By Country | By Date Egypt | March 2001 < Prev: Egyptian Museum | Next: The Market, Mosque, and Mataba >
Travelogue: By Country | By Date Egypt | March 2001  

March 2001 - The Pyramids at Giza
Camel ride touts and the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.  Three kings of the Fourth Dynasty (2570-2450 BC) built pyramids here - about 10 kilometers west of Cairo.  Khufu is perhaps the most colossal single building ever erected on the planet. Its sides are accurately oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass.  Originally, it was 481 feet tall. The pyramid is built from 2,300,000 stone blocks, weighing between 2.5 and 15 tons.  The internal walls as well as those few outer-casing stones that still remain in place show finer joints than any other masonry constructed in ancient Egypt.  Herodotus said it took 20 years to build the pyramid itself.  Originally, the pyramid was covered with a fine, white,  polished limestone coating.  The Great Pyramid's core is made of yellowish limestone blocks, the outer casing (now almost completely gone) and the inner passages are of finer light-coloured limestone, and the interior burial chamber is built of huge blocks of granite. Tourist police and their camels The "middle" pyramid, that of Khafra.  The apex of the pyramid still has its original limestone coating.
Reading about the pyramids, with  Khafra in the background. Egypt picture In the valley temple of Khafra.  Constructed near each pyramid was a mortuary temple, which was linked via a sloping causeway to a valley temple on the edge of the Nile floodplain. Also nearby were subsidiary pyramids used for the burials of other members of the royal family. The valley temple of Khafra
The Sphinx stands just outside Khafra's valley temple.  It was carved in place out of the limestone bedrock.  It's about 60 feet tall.  Between the front paws is the "dream stele," a signpost put up by Tuthmosis IV in the 18th dynasty (1555 - 1305 BC, i.e. about 1000 years after the Sphinx was carved) describing how the king was hunting nearby when he dreamt of an oracle that promised him the crown of Egypt if he ordered the sand that had accumulated around the statue removed.  Sphinx.  The kids were impressed with how small it is. Sphinx and pyramid of Menkaura on its right and pyramid of Khafra on its left. Sphinx, and on the left of the photo, the ruins of Khafra's valley temple
Pyramids and tourist guard.  Police are everywhere - outside hotels and tourist sites (moslem extremists have killed tourists), outside banks (moslem extremists have bombed banks which charge interest), and in all the usual places, too. Inscription in one of the other tombs in the valley Maggie in one of the other tombs in the valley At the base of a pyramid
Searching for shade and being goofy Tourists on their camel rides.  The most exciting part comes when they have to pay. The best view is from Pizza Hut.  We didn't eat there, but we did use the bathrooms.  Somehow that seemed appropriate.
On the road to the great pyramid In the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid.  In the sarcophagus in the Great Pyramid In the Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid.  This is reached by a narrow passage (about 1 meter wide and 1.2 meters high) through which nearly all of us had to duck walk.  Of course the way in is also the only way out, so it was very tight going.
Inside another temple in the valley A false door More soldiers on camels More pyramids
Cool dude The sun can be too hot for some. Kids head out into the desert The remains of the causeway from Menkaura to Menkaura's valley temple
Top of Khafra View of the pyramids from the Oberoi Mena House, apparently you can float on your back in the pool and see the pyramids.  We just looked in. Playing chess with help from a friend at Horreyya, a wonderful coffee house on Midan Falaki