Pyramids of Giza

Pharaonic sites

When most people think about towns and cities in Egypt they only tend to think of the major cities or the ones associated with tourist attractions, but there are actually more than 200 towns and cities which have populations of over 15 milion
Pyramids of Giza

Among the major tourist sites, there is only one considered to be “The major” and on top of any list – The Pyramids of Giza.

There are three main Pyramids here, which were built in the 4th Dynasty (circa 4650 B.C). The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt were built as tombs for Kings (and Queens), and it was the exclusive privilege to have a Pyramid tomb. However, this tradition only applied in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Today there are more than 115 Pyramids in Egypt; the most famous ones are those at Giza.

Now let’s go for a little tour around the site of the Pyramids and try to explore the magnificence of the area:

The Great Pyramid of Khufu

The Great Pyramid of Khufu is by far the most famous Pyramid in Egypt, the biggest, tallest, and most intact. After its construction it became one of the “Seven Wonders Of The World”, and today, it is the only one of them remaining. For a period of 4300 years, the Pyramid was also the tallest building on earth, until the French built the Eiffel Tower in 1889 to take that accolade.

Pyramids

Khufu’s Pyramid is built entirely of limestone, and is considered an architectural masterpiece. It contains around 2,300,000 blocks ranging in weight from 2.5 tons to 20tons, in total 6 million tons and is built on a square base with sides measuring about 230m (755ft), covering 13 acres! Its four sides face the four cardinal points precisely and it has an angle of 52 degrees. The original height of the Pyramid was 146.5m (488ft), but today it is only 139m (463ft) high, the 8m (27ft) that is missing is due to the theft of the fine quality limestone covering, or casing stones, by the Ottoman Turks in the 15 Century A.D, to build houses and Mosques in Cairo.

You will find that the entrance of the Pyramid is located at the northern side, the same as almost every Pyramid in Egypt. On this side there are actually 2 entrances, one is the original, and is 17m (55ft) above ground level, and the other one is a man-made forced entrance located below it. Created in the 9th Century A.D by Khalif El-Mamoun, who was seeking the treasures that he thought might have been kept inside the Pyramid. He sent out stonemasons to open up an entrance, and they cut it midway across the centre of the northern side. Their tunnel goes almost 35m into the Pyramid, and was crudely cut, and at the end it connects with the original inner corridors of the Pyramid. Nothing was found inside, as it was plundered in antiquity. Nowadays visitors, to the site, use Mamoun’s entrance to gain access into the Pyramid, as it is actually considered to be a shortcut.

Please Note: If you attempt to go inside the Pyramid, you will have to bend down all the way till you reach the burial chamber!

From the main entrance of the Pyramid there is a long narrow corridor with low roof that descends for more than 100m (330ft), which takes you to a chamber, located about 24m (79ft) below ground level, which is an unfinished burial chamber with very little fresh air inside, and is inaccessible today.

Almost 20m (66ft) from that descending corridor there is another corridor connected to it, which takes you up into the heart of the Pyramid. This ascending corridor ends up at one the great parts of the Great Pyramid, the “Grand Gallery”! It is a large, long, rectangular hall, which is 49m (161ft) long, and 15m (49ft) high, with a long tunnel, at the bottom, that takes you the 2nd chamber, which is famously known as the “Queens Chamber”. It actually has nothing to do with a Queen, and was given this name by the early Arabs, who went inside the Pyramids and gave it its name. It is commonly believed that it served as a magazine, or a storeroom, inside the Pyramid.

Sphinx

When you ascend the “Grand Gallery”, you will find, at its end, an entrance to the 3rd chamber, which was the real burial chamber of King Khufu, and this is where you will find his stone sarcophagus, which was made out of one block of granite. You will find this chamber to be really amazing, it is rectangular in form, has a flat roof, and is built out of granite that was brought from the city of Aswan, which is located 1000Km (625 miles) away. The roof consists of 9 slabs of granite; each one estimated to be around 50 tons in weight! Above the roof of the burial chamber, the Ancient Egyptians built 5 small relieving chambers so that the huge pressure, of the weight above, would not cause the burial chamber to collapse. These 5 chambers are also made of granite, and are about 1m (3 ft) above each other. The tops of the first 4 are flat, the 5th one having a pointed top to divert the enormous pressure of weight away from the burial chamber.

Both the northern and southern walls of the burial chamber have two small tunnels with rectangular entrances. They are small, and once were thought to go all the way through the outer sides of the Pyramid, though no exterior openings have been found, and are believed to be “star shafts” that served a certain purpose in the ancient cult connecting the King with the stars.

If you need to know more about these small tunnels, and their connection to the stars, it is a long story! I guess you will need to come to one of my lectures!!!

One last point! The Great Pyramid is the Pyramid of the great Egyptian King, Khufu. The name “Cheops” is also associated with this King and his Pyramid, the name being given to him by the Greeks. Though both names are generally accepted, Khufu was used in this description because it was his birth name! The same goes for Khafre (Chephren in Greek) and Menkaure (Mycerinus), and their Pyramids are described below.
The Pyramid of Khafre

Khafre’s Pyramid, or the 2nd Pyramid, is easily recognizable by the layers of its original casing stones that still remain near its summit and this, along with the fact that it actually stands on a higher part of the plateau, gives the impression that it is taller than the Great Pyramid. An optical illusion, as it is only 136m (446 ft) tall, with sides of 214.5m (704ft), a surface area of 11 acres and an angle of 53 degrees. It also has lost some of its original height through the years, once being 143.5m (471ft) tall.

The only similarity to his father’s Pyramid is the entrance in the same, north facing side. There are no corridors leading into the heart of this Pyramid, the burial chamber being underground, and a long descending passageway has to be negotiated to reach it. This entrance is 50 feet (15m) above ground level, leading to the narrow passage, which descends at a 25-degree angle into the large burial chamber, which measures 14.2m by 5m by 6.9m (46.5ft by 16.5ft by 22.5ft). To take the weight of the pyramid, the roof of the chamber is set at the same angles as the pyramid face. A large, black sarcophagus is found in this room.

A lower corridor is directly under the upper corridor, and once contained a portcullis that could be lowered to prevent entry as well as an unfinished burial chamber, which was cut from the bedrock and, it is thought, unused. Like the upper corridor, this one has a 25-degree slope, it then levels out, climbs slightly, and eventually the 2 of them join together. The united passageway then leads to the burial chamber.
The Pyramid of Menkaure

Khafre’s son, Menkaure, built the smallest of the 3 main Pyramids on the Giza Plateau. This one was only a mere 65.5m (215ft) tall, nowadays 62m (203ft), with sides of only 105m (344ft) and an angle of 51.3 degrees. It is thought that this Pyramid was altered during its construction, and made a lot bigger than originally planned. The original, smaller Pyramid had a simple descending corridor and burial chamber, but when it was enlarged, a new corridor was built with 3 portcullises and a small panelled chamber. Later still, another burial chamber, along with a storeroom were added at a lower level. This Pyramid, like its 2 neighbors, has a north facing entrance.

Apart from the size, Menkaure’s Pyramid differed from the other 2 in the choice of casing stones. Whereas the Pyramids of his father and grandfather were completely cased in fine, white, Turah limestone, Menkaure’s Pyramid was only partly cased in Turah limestone, from about 15m up! The first 15 meters was cased with pink granite, which had come from Aswan, the last of which was taken by Muhammad Ali Pasha (1805-1848) who used them to construct his arsenal in Alexandria.
The Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx, or as the ancients knew it, “Shesib Ankh” or “the living image”, has to be one of the most recognizable constructions in history. Think of the Sphinx and you automatically think of Egypt and the Giza Plateau.

Sculpted from soft sandstone, many believe that it would have disappeared long ago had it not been buried in the sand for so many long periods in its lifetime. The body is 60m (200ft) long and 20m (65ft) tall. Its face is 4m (13ft) wide with eyes measuring 2m (6 ft) high. It faces the rising sun, and was revered so much by the ancients, that they built a temple in front of it.

sphinx

The 18th Dynasty King, Thutmose IV installed a stele between its front paws, describing how, when Thutmose was a young Prince, he had gone hunting and fell asleep in the shade of the Sphinx ‘s head. Thutmose had a dream where Ra Hor-Akhty the sun God, talking through the Sphinx, spoke to him, telling the young Prince to clear away the sand because the Sphinx was choking on it. The Sphinx said to him that if he did this, he would become King of Egypt.

Thutmose cleared away all the sand and s after 2 years, the god fulfilled his promise to the price and he was made king of Egypt

Today, part of the “uraeus” (the sacred cobra at the forehead ), and the nose are missing (not shot off by Napoleon’s men as many believe, but were destroyed by Muhammad Sa’im Al-Dahr, a Sufi fanatic from the Khanqah of 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!). There are parts of a beard in the Cairo and British Museum in London which reputedly belong to the Sphinx, but many Egyptologists deny this, as the style of beard found, does not relate to the “Nemes” that The Sphinx wears – different Dynasties!

Because of the soft sandstone, the Sphinx has been repaired many times; sometimes the repairs causing even more damage! Also, due to the wind, humidity, and pollution from modern Cairo, its condition is still deteriorating, and the present renovations are a never-ending task.

I hope this gave you a glimpse of information about the Pyramids of Giza.

The Egyptian Museum

A historical back ground

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is considered to be one of the oldest, most famous, and largest museums in the world.  The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities has a long history that dates back to the year 1825 when Mohamed Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt at the time, issued a decree to establish a museum for the antiquities of Egypt and the first location of the museum was in front of the Azabakeya Lake, between the squares of Opera and Atabba today.

The Ruler of Egypt at this period didn’t really realize the real value of the antiquities and ancient historical finds of Egypt and they started giving them to the European tourists who visited Egypt at this period of time in the middle of the 19th century.

At the end, the rest of the antiquities that were kept near the Azabakeya Lake were taken to an abandoned room in the citadel. When the Austrian Archduke, Maximilian, visited the citadel and was fond of the belongings of this room.

This was because Khedive Abbas, the ruler of Egypt at the time, gave the Archduke all the items that were kept in the room. Afterwards, Maximilian took theses antiqutieis with him to Austria and they are still there until today.

After a number of attempts and a lot of efforts that were exerted by the great Egyptologist, Auguste Mariette, the recent Egyptian Museum of Antiquities that is located in the famous Tahrir Square was opened for public in the 15th of November of the year 1902.

About the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities

Situated in front of the main entrance of the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, there is a small artificial lake that has some of the lotus and the papyrus plants, the most important plants for the ancient Egyptians.

The papyrus is that green long plant that was used by the ancient Egyptians to produce papers. Moreover, the words “paper” in English and the word “Papier” in French are both derived from the word Papyrus.

The sections of the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities located in the Tahrir Square in Cairo is considered to be the largest museum in the whole world. With so many exhibits put on display in the Egyptian museum, and even double the number of exhibits kept in storage rooms, the guests would take days to view everything in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities consists o two floors; the ground floor that hosts the heavier displays like coffins, huge statues, and stone carvings.

The displays of this floor were organized according to the historical periods which are the Old Kingdom, the Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom, the Late Period, the Greco Roman Period, and the antiquities of the Nubia.

The upper floor of the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities hosts the lighter displays that include gadgets and tools, funerary objects, smaller statues, papyrus papers, wooden coffins, jewelry, and most importantly, the displays of the Tut Ankh Amun tomb.

The Narmer Plate

Among the most important displays that the guests of the Egyptian Museum should view during their visit is the Narmer Plate or the Plate of the King Menes.

The Narmer Plate is a large plate made out stone and it is the only remaining evidence that King Narmer or Menes was able to unify the two regions of Egypt, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt in one unified kingdom, beginning the dynastic era of the Egyptian history.

The name of the King Menes is inscribed at the two sides of the plate. The King Menes is portrayed on one side of the plate wearing the long white crown and he is about to beat a war prisoner with his hands

On the other side of the Narmer Plate, the king is portrayed wearing the two crowns and walking with his followers to supervise the process of prosecuting the war prisoner.

The Displays of the Old Kingdom

The displays of the Old Kingdom in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities are located to the left hand side of the entrance door and they are among the most remarkable among the whole displays of the museum.

The Old Kingdom, or the Pyramids builders’ period, is a section of the ancient Egyptian history that starts with King Menes. The most important achievements of this period is the Pyramids of Giza, the step Pyramid of Saqqara, the Pyramids of Dahshur, and the Pyramids of Abu Sir.

The first capital of a unified Egypt was founded by King Menes in the 32nd century BC and it was called Memphis, located nowadays to the South of Giza. The most important Egyptian kings that ruled over the country from Memphis are King Menes or Narmer of course, King Zoser, King Senefru, King Chespos, and King Khafre.

There is a wonderful statue of King Khafre made out of alabaster and it is put on display in the second hall of the ground floor of the museum. There are also four heads of some of the relatives of the king and they were made out of limestone.

Moving forward in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the guests will find a collection of attractive smaller statues of servants carrying out their everyday duties and responsibilities.

There is a statue of a woman grinding the grains and beside her there is a statue of a man getting the dough ready to produce beer. On the other side there is am man grilling a goose and beside him, there is another man holding a large bag on his shoulder.

These statues were found in some of the tombs of the Nobles who included these servants with them in their burial chambers to serve them in the afterlife as they have served them during their lives.

Afterwards, moving on with exploring the ground floor of the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the guests will find a large collection of coffins that were made from different types of rocks and stones with its notable decorations and carvings.

There is also the walls of the funerary chamber that was reconstructed after being brought from one of the tombs of Saqqara. This piece is the best example of the magnificent art of the 6th dynasty of the Old Kingdom. The guests will view on the walls of the chamber a list of items showing what the deceased might need in the after life.

The Old Kingdom is considered to be among the most powerful periods of the ancient Egyptians. This is why the guests will find huge statues that are featured with the accuracy in its design and beauty.  An example of this is the wonderful statue of king Khafre that was made out of the strong diorite stone.

Another example of the wonderful statues of the old kingdom would be the sycamore wooden made statue of the “Sheikh of the town”, one of the most important figures that date back to the ancient Egyptian and which is still practiced until today.

The Displays of the Middle Kingdom

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities hosts ten notable statues that date back to the Middle Kingdom. The ten statues portray the king Senosert I, a king that belongs to the 12th dynasty and they are all made out of limestone.

There are also three other statues of Senosert portrayed as a the god Osiris and they were found near the El Lisht, an area near El Fayoum and the Pyramid of Meidum  to the South of Cairo.

The Middle Kingdom period started in Egypt with the fall of the Old Kingdom and it was, according to historical records and researches, a relatively negative period of the ancient Egyptian history.

However, with the beginning of the rule of the 12th dynasty, the living conditions of the Egyptians were improved and the arts and industries have greatly flourished.

Another transition took place in Egypt once again with the nobles fighting among each others, and the living conditions getting worse once more, all these facts paved the way for the Hyksos to invade the country.

When the 17th dynasty came to rule over Egypt, from Thebes, they started to fight these forigen invaders until the King Ahmose was able to defeat the Hyksos and expel them out of Egypt. Ahmose founded the 18th dynasty, which is the first dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt.

The Displays of the New Kingdom

The 18th dynasty which is the first dynasty of the New Kingdom is considered among the greatest dynasties that ruled over Egypt and the most important rulers of this period are Queen Hatshepsut, King Amenhotep, Ikhnaton, and King Tut Ankh Amun.

There are so many displays in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities that date back to the New Kingdom. Among these there are several statues of the Goddess Hathour and the god Amun, the most famous god of ancient Egypt.

The displays of the New Kingdom also include a large collection of mummification tools, chairs, wooden objects, crowns, and a large collection of statues of gods, kings, and queens that date back to many different periods of the New Kingdom.

There are a number of remarkable statues of Queen Hatshepsut with some of them portraying her in the shape of the sphinx while the other shows her in the disguise of a man.

There are some notable statues of King Tuthmosis III, the successor of Hatshepsut, who is one of the most skilful military leaders of ancient Egypt to the extent that he was called, the Napoleon of Egypt.

Sakkara

Sakkara is one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Egypt, it was the cemetery for Memphis the capital of ancient Egypt.
Yet again it is one of the very virgin archaeological sites. despite the fact that we found so many moments in Sakkara .

Sakkara is dominated by the step pyramid of king Zoser that goes back to 2700 BC. It is one of the oldest stone structures in the world.

Sakkara is also the site of many tombs from the first and 2nd dynasty. Mostly made out of mud break other tombs that are made of limestone decorated with daily life scenes. When you are in Sakkara, you will notice that Sakkara is divided into southern Sakkara where it is dominated by the step pyramid and northern Sakkara dominated by the pyramid of king Titi and mastaba tombs of the old kingdom.
When conducting a visit to Sakkara don’t miss the following sites:
– The step pyramid of king Zoser and it surrounding complex.
– The pyramid of king Titi.
– The tomb of Meriruka and the tomb of Kagimni.
– The mastba tomb of TI and the tomb of Petah hotep.

It was built for king Zoser to be a tomb, today is considered as one of the oldest stone structure built by men in the ancient world and the first time the ancient Egyptians would attempt to use limestone. King Zoser is considered as one of the greatest kings of the third dynasty (2721-2780 BC). This pyramid was designed and built by his great architect Imhotep.
The pyramid is built as step pyramid, raising the height of 60 meters and consisting of 6 steps on top of each other each is smaller than the one below. The pyramid is entirely built of limestone. They used small bricks of limestone, yes it is not he best quality of stone but it remained for more than 4700 years. The pyramid is surrounded by a rectangular enclosure wall that measure 277*544 meters mostly ruined today but it was originally ten meters high. You will be able to see parts of it.

In the southern eastern part of the wall you will find the entrance to the complex, most of what you are going to see when you get through this door is recently restored!  Notice at the end of the little hall that the door leads you to , there is a an imitation of two doors swung open. The entrance leads you to a colonnade that has 40 columns. Each columns is attached to the wall behind, the style of  such columns are called engaged columns, they were built to ensure that these columns would be able to endure the heavy weight of the ceiling.

You will notice in between the columns there are large numbers of little rooms created in between, they once contained statues representing king zoser as ruler of upper and Lower Egypt. The long hypostyle hall leads to an open court yard. This vast empty space was to be used by the king performing the rituals of the jubilee feast called the Hep-Sed festival. One of the rituals performed by kings of Ancient Egypt to ensure that they are able to rule the country for 30 years to come. To the right wing of the open court yard, Imhotep the architect of king Zoser built a temple known as  the Hep-Sed temple, for the king to be able to practice that ritual in the after life.

Behind that temple further north you will notice two building behind each other they are called the northern and southern house where the king is supposed to host those dignitaries who have come to attend the king’s ritual in the temple and his recognition as a king of upper and lower Egypt.

The pyramid’s four sides almost face the four cardinal points. The original entrance of the pyramid is located at the northern side.
One the north western side you will notice al little room that is built with a gradient angel of the pyramid itself , there we found a beautiful statue of king Zoser made of limestone, it was moved to the Egyptian museum in Cairo and it was replace by a replica
The pyramid is closed for visitors since a very long time it is not safe to get inside this pyramid.
I frequently was admitted inside this pyramid with many TV crows that I have leaded around Sakkara, we had to get a very special permission to get inside.

The northern entrance is not used anymore it is very dangerous; mainly the people use another one that was made the time of the 26th dynasty at the southern reside of the pyramid.
When you go underneath this pyramid you will there is strange feeling that haunts you , when you keep in mind that you are exploring 4700 years of time . yet down there is like a maze , there are hundred of little corridors and virtually it is like maze of little tunnels. We found in some of these tunnels more that 30, 000. Jars made out of several types of stone, like alabaster marble, diorite and slate.
To the southern side of the pyramid, you will find burial shaft almost 28 meter deep is believed to be a symbolic tomb for the kind, as kings of the first three dynasties used to build tow tomb for themselves one is a real tomb and the other one is just a cenotaph.

Next to the step pyramid complex on the southern side you will see the ruined pyramid of king Unas, dates back to the end of the 5th dynasty. It is the first pyramid inside of which we find inscription decorating the walls of the burial chamber, they are more than 700 incantations which are supposed to help the dead king throughout the afterlife and they are known as the pyramid texts. When you get inside this pyramid the inscriptions on the walls of the burial chamber are awesome. Unfortunately the pyramid is closed since more than 6 years ago.

Tomb of Meriruka
It is the largest tomb in Sakkara, it was built for Meriruka and his family and today considered as the largest tomb in the southern Sakkara, it consists of 32 rooms. The tomb was discovered at 1893, it is located 20 meters to the north of the pyramid of king Titi.
The tom goes back to the time of 6 dynasties (2240 BC). The tomb is divided into sections where he and his wife and son are buried. The walls of the tomb are decorated with marvelous daily life scenes illustrating the daily life in Ancient Egypt. It is full of many details of Meriruka with his family and servants.

The Valley of the Queens

Is an isolated cemetery, at the southern part of the vast necropolis of Thebes, on the west bank of Luxor It contains about 70 tombs, mainly belonging to Queens, Princesses, Princes and Nobles, who lived during the XIX and XX Dynasties.

In general, these tombs are smaller than the ones of the Kings. The plans of these tombs usually consist of a small antechamber, a long narrow corridor with several side chambers, and at the end – the burial chamber.

One of the most important tombs in the valley is the one that belongs to the famous Queen Nefertari, the principal consort of King Ramses II. This beautiful tomb was in a bad condition because of the salt crystals seeping through its poor quality limestone. It was restored and reopened for visitors, though nowadays it is closed to the general public because of the high CO2 levels, and water in breath particles, which were damaging the beautiful artwork. Her tomb consists of a stairway leading down to a hall, where on the walls, there are representations of the Queen with different Gods and Goddesses. This hall leads to an inner side chamber decorated with religious scenes such as Queen Nefertari burning incense, and giving offerings to the Gods Osiris and Atum. A corridor then leads to the burial chamber, whose walls are decorated with scenes of the “Book of the Gates”.

Also located in the valley, are the tombs of three of the sons of King Ramses III, who were also buried there.

Tomb 55 is considered to be one of the most important tombs amongst them. It was dedicated to Prince Amon-khopshef, a son of King Ramses III who had died at an early age. Among the most beautiful scenes in this tomb, are on the walls of the 1st chamber. It is a scene representing the Prince, with his father, with the King making offerings to various deities. The large hall is decorated with some scenes of the “Book of the Gates”.

Tomb 44 belongs to Prince Khaem-waset, who was another son of Ramses III. It consists of 2 long corridors, with 2 side chambers, and a square burial chamber. The walls of this tomb are decorated with various painted scenes, some of them representing the Prince with different deities, and with his father in front of the deities of the after world.

The unfinished obelisk

pharonic sites

The unfinished obelisk lies in its original location in a quarry of granite in Aswan. It is 42 m. in height. Most probably it was abandoned in its place after discovering some cracks in the rock.

If this one was to be complete it would have been the heaviest obelisk ever been cut in Ancient Egypt, the obelisk alone wait 1100 tons.

We think that it belongs to the queen Hatshebsut (dynasty XVIII). The obelisk was a sacred symbol of the cult of the sun.

In the early ages, the Ancient Egyptian knew the so called  Pn-pn” which was a pyramidal stone with a pointed top. And according to their beliefs the “Pn-pn” symbolized to the primeval hill from which the World appeared.

Then in course of time this Pn-pn was evolved to be a obelisk usually made of granite with a pyramidal shape on top.

During the 5th dynasty the obelisk began to play an important role inside the temples of Re.

It was erected on a great base in an open court then when the sun rays were fallen on its pyramidal top; the bright light filled the place to give the prayer a great emotion of the power of the sun. One of the most important obelisks which still stands in pride at the district of El Mataraya, is the one which was erected in front of the entrance of the vanished temple of Re at Heliopolis.

It was dedicated to the temple by king Senwsert I to commemorate the ceremony of the (Heb-sed).

In the New Kingdom,  especially at the time of the XVIII and XIX dynasties the kings used to erect obelisks in front of the different temple for religious and political reasons.

The Temples of Abu Simbel

pharonic sites

The temples of Abu Simbel are one of the most interesting Pharonic temples located near the Southern borders with the Sudan. It is located 280 km to the South of Aswan and it consists of two rock-cut temples both date back to the reign of Ramsis II (1290-1223 BC).

Abu Simbel

Unfortunately these two unique temples suffered from the raising water of Nasser Lake after while building the high dam, therefore UNESCO helped the country and contributed to save them. The two temples were cut to number of pieces, then they were reconstructed again in a high site 65 M higher than the original location and 200 M back in land to escape the rising water level. The works of this great rescue operation began in June 1964 and finish

The first temple was built by king Ramsis II and dedicated to god Re-Hor-Akhty, Amon, Ptah, and king Ramsis II as a deified person.

Its façade is 35 m. long and 30 m. high. The façade has four seated colossi of the king, each one is 20 M in height and represents the king seated on his throne wearing the double crown, while accompanied by 3 small figures of his wives, daughters and sons flanking his legs.

Above the entrance stands the figure of Re-Hor-Akhty. Near the submit of the façade there are number of baboons.

Inside the temple there is a hall supported by Osirid shaped pillars, cut in the the rock. The walls of this hall are decorated by battle and offering scenes. At the end of the temple is the sanctuary which contains four statues represent Re-hor-akhty, Amon-Re, Petah and the fourth represents the deified Ramses II. Also there are some side rooms decorated with various scenes.

ed in September 1968.

Unfortunately these two unique temples suffered from the raising water of Nasser Lake after while building the high dam, therefore UNESCO helped the country and contributed to save them. The two temples were cut to number of pieces, then they were reconstructed again in a high site 65 M higher than the original location and 200 M back in land to escape the rising water level. The works of this great rescue operation began in June 1964 and finish

The first temple was built by king Ramsis II and dedicated to god Re-Hor-Akhty, Amon, Ptah, and king Ramsis II as a deified person.

Its façade is 35 m. long and 30 m. high. The façade has four seated colossi of the king, each one is 20 M in height and represents the king seated on his throne wearing the double crown, while accompanied by 3 small figures of his wives, daughters and sons flanking his legs.

Above the entrance stands the figure of Re-Hor-Akhty. Near the submit of the façade there are number of baboons.

Inside the temple there is a hall supported by Osirid shaped pillars, cut in the the rock. The walls of this hall are decorated by battle and offering scenes. At the end of the temple is the sanctuary which contains four statues represent Re-hor-akhty, Amon-Re, Petah and the fourth represents the deified Ramses II. Also there are some sided rooms decorated with various scenes.

The small temple of Abu simbel

The temple of queen Nefertari is about 120 m. from the Temple of Ramsis II, it was built also by Ramsis II, dedicated to goddess Hathor and to his wife queen Nefertari, she was principal and the beloved wife of king Ramses II. It is also a rock-cut temple with a façade of about 28 m long and 12 m high. The façade contains 6 standing colossi, each one is about 11 m. in height

Four of them represent Ramsis II and two represent the queen Nefertari and each is accompanied by two smaller figures of their children.

The entrance leads to square hall which supported by 6 Hathor-headed pillars decorates with

scenes depicting the king and the queen making offerings to the different deities.

At the end of the hall there is a doorway leading to a transverse Vestibule decorated with scene of the king Ramsis the II making offering to Re-Hor-Akhty while the queen presenting flowers to Khenum, Sat-tet and Anket.

The Transverse Hall leads to the Sanctuary which contains a niche in the rear wall with a statue of goddess Hathor as a cow protecting Ramsis II.

The temple of Queen Hatchesput

pharonic sites
The temple is built t of limestone unlike most of the other like most of the other funerary temples of the New kingdom period.

It is thought that Senmut the genius architect who built this temple was inspired in his design by the plan of the neighboring mortuary temple of King Neb-Hept-Re of the 12th dynasty. The temple was built for the great queen Hatshepsut ( 18th dynasty) to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary temple for her.  As well as a a sanctuary of God Amon-Ra.

This unique temple reflect clear ideas about the serious conflict between Hatshpesut and her Nephew and son in low Tohutmosis III, since many of her statues were destroyed and most of her Cartouches were damaged by the followers of Tohutmosis III after the mysterious death of the queen.

The temple consists of three raising imposing terraces. The two lower ones would have been full of trees. On the southern end of the 1st colonnade there are some scenes among them the famous scene of the transportation of Hatshepsut’s two obelisks.

On the north side of the colonnade there is a scene which represents the queen offering four calves to Amon-Re.

The 2nd terrace is accessed by a ramp, originally it had stairs.  The famous punt relief had been engraved on the southern side of the 2nd colonnade. This Journey to Punt or Somalia was the 1st Pictorial documentation of a trade expedition recorded and discovered in ancient Egypt, until now. The scenes depict in great details the maritime expedition which queen Hatshepsut sent via  the Red Sea to Punt (Somalia today! ) just before the 9th year of her reign ( 1482 BC ) This famous expedition was headed by her high official Pa-nahsy and lasted 3 years. His mission was to exchange Egyptian merchandise with the products of Punt, especially gold, incense and tropical trees.

To the south there is the shrine of Hathor. The court that leads to this chapel has columns where Hathor is shown with a woman’s face and cow’s ears carrying her sistrum (a musical tool) and on the walls she is depicted as a cow. In this part King Tohtmosis III erased the queen’s names.

On the northern side of the 2nd colonnade there is a scene of the divine birth of Hatshepsut as the queen claimed that she was the divine daughter of Amon-Re to legitimize her rule.

Beyond the colonnade to the North arpharonic sites

The temple is built t of limestone unlike most of the other like most of the other funerary temples of the New kingdom period.

It is thought that Senmut the genius architect who built this temple was inspired in his design by the plan of the neighboring mortuary temple of King Neb-Hept-Re of the 12th dynasty. The temple was built for the great queen Hatshepsut ( 18th dynasty) to commemorate her achievements and to serve as a funerary temple for her. As well as a a sanctuary of God Amon-Ra.

This unique temple reflect clear ideas about the serious conflict between Hatshpesut and her Nephew and son in low Tohutmosis III, since many of her statues were destroyed and most of her Cartouches were damaged by the followers of Tohutmosis III after the mysterious death of the queen.

The temple consists of three raising imposing terraces. The two lower ones would have been full of trees. On the southern end of the 1st colonnade there are some scenes among them the famous scene of the transportation of Hatshepsut’s two obelisks.

On the north side of the colonnade there is a scene which represents the queen offering four calves to Amon-Re.

The 2nd terrace is accessed by a ramp, originally it had stairs. The famous punt relief had been engraved on the southern side of the 2nd colonnade. This Journey to Punt or Somalia was the 1st Pictorial documentation of a trade expedition recorded and discovered in ancient Egypt, until now. The scenes depict in great details the maritime expedition which queen Hatshepsut sent via the Red Sea to Punt (Somalia today! ) just before the 9th year of her reign ( 1482 BC ) This famous expedition was headed by her high official Pa-nahsy and lasted 3 years. His mission was to exchange Egyptian merchandise with the products of Punt, especially gold, incense and tropical trees.

To the south there is the shrine of Hathor. The court that leads to this chapel has columns where Hathor is shown with a woman’s face and cow’s ears carrying her sistrum (a musical tool) and on the walls she is depicted as a cow. In this part King Tohtmosis III erased the queen’s names.

On the northern side of the 2nd colonnade there is a scene of the divine birth of Hatshepsut as the queen claimed that she was the divine daughter of Amon-Re to legitimize her rule.

Beyond the colonnade to the North are the chapel of Anubis, god of mummification and the keeper of the necropolis.

The 3rd terrace is accessed by a ramp, it consists of two rows of columns, the front ones take the Oisirid form (a mummy form) unfortunately they were damaged by Tohtmosis III), while the rear ones have been destroyed.

As well, the colonnade which leads to the sanctuary of the temple has been severely damaged. This sanctuary consists of two small chapels.

In the Ptolemaic period a third chapel was added to the sanctuary and it was decorated with various scenes, here the most remarkable, are the scenes representing Amenhotep son of Hapo (18th dynasty).another genius architect from Ancient Egypt after Imhotep of the 3rd dynasty.

In the 7th century AD, it was named after a Coptic monastery in the area known as the Northern monastery. Today it is known as the Temple of El Deir El Bahary which means in Arabic the “Temple of the Northern monastery”. Yet there is another theory suggesting that the temple in the Early Christian Period was used as a Coptic monastery.

e the chapel of Anubis, god of mummification and the keeper of the necropolis.

The 3rd terrace is accessed by a ramp, it consists of two rows of columns, the front ones take the Oisirid form (a mummy form) unfortunately they were damaged by Tohtmosis III), while the rear ones have been destroyed.

As well, the colonnade which leads to the sanctuary of the temple has been severely damaged. This sanctuary consists of two small chapels.

In the Ptolemaic period a third chapel was added to the sanctuary and it was decorated with various scenes, here the most remarkable, are the scenes representing Amenhotep son of Hapo (18th dynasty).another genius architect from Ancient Egypt after Imhotep of the 3rd dynasty.

In the 7th century AD, it was named after a Coptic monastery in the area known as the Northern monastery. Today it is known as the Temple of El Deir El Bahary which means in Arabic the “Temple of the Northern monastery”.  Yet there is another theory suggesting that the temple in the Early Christian Period was used as a Coptic monastery.

The Temple of Kom Ombo

pharonic sites

The  temple stands on the east bank of  the Nile, right one the Nile bank located almost 4 KM far from the town, it was  dedicated to two gods, Horus and Sobik

Mainly the temple was dedicated to go Sobik the crocodile god, together with his wife in another form of goddess Hathor. The temple is Greco roman structure, it dates back to the year 119 BC, and it was built out of limestone by Ptolemy VI who started the construction. The emperor Neo Dionysus finished most of the building while the emperor Augustus finished the final touches.

The left side of the temple is dedicated to god hours the elder, god of victory, here Horus was known as the good doctor. The temple became famous for its healing power. It was a major pilgrimage site here a healing cult was developed and the temple was a sanctuary for many patients who were seeking help and treatment by the priests. They would fast for a night in the temple precinct.

You will enter the temple from the Easter side where there is an ancient gate built by Neos Dionysus (Ptolemy XIII) who was the father of Cleopatra.

To your right after crossing the gate m you will find a small room that was built and dedicated to goddess Hathor. Now it is used to display mummified crocodiles that were found in the vicinity of the temple.

The first pylon of the temple is now destroyed and only stones the foundation and part of the wall remained. This court was the construction of King Tiberius.

When you enter from the main forecourt you will find that entrance is dived into two gateways, each leads to one half of the temple dedicated to each the twin deities

The rear wall leads to the second hypostyle that leads to twin entrances and has 15 columns five of them are incorporated in the front wall, this section shows Ptolemy VII holding hymnal texts before the Nile gods.

After that you will find a three double entrance vestibule, each is smaller and higher than the last, the out vestibule shows goddess Shehsat measuring the layout of the temple and the king laying the foundation, the middle chamber were dedicated to the offering and it was only allowed to the priests.

To your right you will find here long lists of calendars telling us about the various festivals dedicated to various gods the temple

The inner vestibule has two doors leading the two separate sanctuaries of Horus and Sobik.

On the inner side of the back wall of the temple is a very remarkable scene that shows the first illustration of medical and surgery tools which are presented to a seated god.

Here you will find, scalpels, suction cap, bone saws, and dental tools, such tools In the north west side of the temple there is a huge well with staircase connected with the worship of the crocodile and was used as a Nile meter. You still can see water there !

The Temple of Dendera

pharonic sites

The temple in located in Qena the capital of the province inhabited by Coptic and Muslims, pop 2,000,000. This town is very famous for manufacture of water pots, called in Arabic “gula” jars. The modern town of Qena was founded by the holy Muslim Shiek Abdel Raheeem El Kenawi who spent all of his life in this town and died in 1170 AD. The birthday of this saint is celebrated every year, and a great number of pilgrims come from all over Egypt for this celebration. The name of the city goes back to the time of the pharaohs , it was taken from the ancient Egyptian word Qeny, which means to bend. this name was chosen for the city because the Nile river is taking a curve shape in this spot

The temple of Hathor at Dendera was built in the 1st c BC and It is one of the best preserved temples in all of Egypt. It was built by Ptolemy 8th and Queen Cleopatra 2nd and then later Roman Emperors continued to decorate it and honour of the goddess Hathor, the goddess of love, music and maternity. The goddess Hathor was identified by the Greeks with Aphrodite.

When visitors pass through the first gateway, built by Roman Emperor Domitian at 80AD. This gate leads to the main building of the temple. The great hall of the temple is decorated with Hathoric columns, columns with the face of Hathor. This is found is very good state of preservation. The front upper edge of the cornice is decorated with the winged sun disc. The front portion is enclosed by stone screens between the columns and the scene which represent the Roman Emperor Tiberius and other rulers who present votive offerings to the goddess of the temple. Hathor is chiefly represented with the horns of the sacred cow protruding from her head, supporting the solar disc of the sun, and in her hands holding the symbol of life and sceptre. Sometimes she is represented with the head of a cow.

The interior walls of the great Hall represent remarkable scenes that mainly depict sacrifices being made to the goddess of the temple. The amazing ceiling with astronomical representations is also very interesting. The ceiling is divided into 7 divisions. The first division on the eastern side depicts goddess Nut, goddess of the sky, bending herself towards the earth and the sun disc is seen shining on the temple and the mask of Hathor. Next to this is a representation of the sun boat and star goddess. Next to this the western ceiling shows a divine in a perfect representation of the zodiac signs, which makes this temple one of the most famous temples. The original zodiac is in the louver museum. The 12 figures of the ram, the bull, the heavenly twins, the crab, the lion, Virgo, the scales, the scorpion, the archer, the goat, the watering pots and fishes with glittering tails. On the inner walls of the screen the hawk headed god hours and the ibis headed god Thoth are pouring drops of holy water over the king. This scene is called the baptism scene, symbolizing life and happiness.

The second hall was 6 columns adorned with rich capitals and granite pedestals. On both sides of this hall are small rooms which were used as store rooms to store the wine jars that came from Crete island and the fertile oasis of Fayioum and Kharga oasis.

Next is the central chapel which has two altars, one for the sacred boat and the other one for the sacrifices offered to goddess Hathor. The beautifully sculptured reliefs on the walls of the shrines represent Ptolemy 8th and other rules whose names were left blank in the oval cartouches, dancing with offerings to the sacred boat of Hathor and her husband Horus. The king’s representatives, the high priests, noblemen used to gather in the great hall in attendance for the daily rituals. The ceilings are covered in stars and black smog from the fires of the later inhabitants of the temple. The rooms around the sanctuary were used for scientific purposes, the storing of the sacred boat, the sacred reath, the golden image of goddess Hathor, musical instruments.

You have to note the small corridor on your right will take you to a small room which contains the crypt, which is highly recommended.

The staircases which lead to the roof of the temple are decorated with some beautiful symbols representing the 12 months of the year. ON the east corner of this roof lies the chapel of God Osiris. The scenes on the walls represent Osiris’s rising from the dead and becoming the god of the underworld. It is from this chapel that the best representation of the zodiac was taken.

Southern exterior wall relief show Cleopatra 7th and her son Caesarian, son of Julius Caesar, making offering to Hathor and all the deities of Dendera. On the same wall near the cornice are some stone lion heads, to serve as water spouts. Adjoining the temple building to the west is the sacred lake.

This lake was used for the priests’ ablutions. Next to the lake is a small shaft, discovered in 1917, which contained valuable treasures of Cleopatra’s era, which are now displayed in the Egyptian Museum. If you look around the temple you will notice the remnants of the mud brick wall which surrounded the whole temple, and remains of Coptic houses and churches, including large number of Coptic crosses chiseled on the stones. To the north lies the Mamisi, the birth house of Horus, surrounded by one row of columns, with different capitals embellished with relief images of god Bes a hideous dwarf, with a big stomach and long whiskers.

He is the chief god of childhood who drove evil spirits away from the babies. This little temple was erected by the roman Emperor Trajan in 90 AD dedicated to the divine god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris.

The pyramids of Meidum

pharonic sites

Unfortunately this is one of the forgotten sites. You will rarely find it included in the regular tourist itineraries, as most of the visitors nowadays follow a very traditional itinerary, which mainly includes the traditional sites such as Giza pyramids and the step pyramid in Sakkara ! The pyramid of Mydoum has a special magic, in my opinion the visit to this collapsed pyramid of Mydoum is very worthwhile.  It is one of those sites that had and still keeps, lots of secrets medium

Mydoum is located 65KM to the south of Sakkara.  You simply drive along the road that takes you to Sakkara, past the site of Sakkara and drive straight for about an hour, or until you can see the pyramid. There is another way to reach Mydoum, it is longer but faster. You can drive on the Fayoum oasis road and then join the Asyout desert road, after about 77KM you can see the pyramid of Mydoum on your left side.  There you have to pay an entrance ticket, it costs 16LE( 3$) and to use your camera you have to get a camera ticket that will cost you 5 LE (1$).

I have noticed in the last few years that some travel agencies have been trying to organize trips to the pyramid of Mydoum together with the pyramid of Dahshour  in a one-day trip.  I just hope they keep doing this.

In the last few years I have led special groups to that pyramid.  Every time I go there I get overwhelmed with the place and the feeling that there still dozens of secrets in this site uncovered, I feel it never had the chance to have a proper investigation.  I can simply call it a virgin site.

The pyramid of Mydoum was built by the last king of the third dynasty king “HUNI”  in the style of a step pyramid, it was originally 8 steps on top of each other.  For a long time Egyptologists believed that the pyramid was built by King Senfru, the builder of the two pyramids in Dahshour, the belief came as we found some graffiti in the funerary temple located at the eastern side of the pyramid which had been discovered at the end of the 19th century.  This graffiti on the eastern wall of the temple, was left by some ancient Egyptian travelers from the time of the 19th dynasty (1300 BC) recording their admiration of the great structure that King Senfru had built in Mydoum.  As a matter of fact it seems that the last king of the third dynasty “Huni” left his pyramid unfinished and it seems that his successor King Senfru finished the building for him, so that latter generations thought it was the work of Senfru.

It is hard today to believe that one king did actually have 3tombs built for him, the two pyramids in Dahshour, and a third one in Mydoum.  Today it is strongly believed it had been the work of Huni in the first place and then completed  by his son after his death.

The pyramid is called today the collapsed pyramid as it looks from afar like a huge tower. The pyramid was 93 m high and built on square base that measures about 114 m long. The entrance of the pyramid is located almost 30 meters above the ground level in the northern side of the pyramid.  It leads to a descending corridor that goes for 54m, it is unique among all the descending corridors in that you don’t have to bend down to enter it, unless you are really a tall person…  Here you have to have a torch to light your way, as most of the lamps are broken (I have told the inspectors there several times to change them, but no one cared).  At the end of the corridor you will find a small chamber roughly cut in the bed rock exactly underneath the apex line of the pyramid.  And at the end of this room you will find a wooden ladder that leads up to the burial chamber. On your way up you will notice some huge beams of cedar wood that are 4600 years old.

The burial chamber is very small if compared with other burial chambers found inside other pyramids.  It has a corbelled roof that is not well done and the rest of the room is empty.

In the midst of the 19th century a small wooden coffin was found here and later on it was taken to the Egyptian Museum. In 2001 a French team of Egyptologists found a small corridor at the end of the wooden ladder that takes you up to the burial chamber, it is about 3 meters long.  This discovery has not been released to the public yet.

In front of the northern side of the pyramid about 300 meters to the north there is a set up of tombs built in the time of the fourth dynasty and found in 1855.  These tombs yielded great treasure to the Egyptian Museum. There you will find the tomb of Ra-Hotep and his wife Nofert. Here we found two beautiful limestone statues of them still in perfect condition and they are among the most famous master pieces in the Cairo Museum today. RA- HOTEP was the son of King Senfru and the commander of the Egyptian army in the 4th dynasty a chief priest of center of the worship of god RA the sun god.

Nearby the tomb of RA- HOTEP, another one was found, the great tombs of Nefer-Matt.  There we found some great paintings considered the best and the oldest ever found in a tomb, exhibited in the Egyptian Museum in the same room as you will see the statues of Ra hotep and his wife.

The most famous is what we call the scene of the geese of Mydoum. It is a beautiful scene of the 6 Egyptian geese together made on a mud brick wall that was covered with a coat of stucco and painted. It is one the greatest master pieces of the Egyptian museum.

To the east of the pyramid, there is another set of tombs dating back to the 4th dynasty.  One of them is a tomb for an unknown person that was found with no inscription at all.  I love this tomb; to go inside is a real adventure!  The entrance that you use to get inside was actually made by the tomb robbers.  I usually take my groups there but first I always make sure that they are fit to do it, as it is tiring but worth the visit.  The entrance of the tombs leads through a descending corridor that is about 10 m long then you will find a small shaft inside of which there is a modern wooden ladder that takes you down to another tunnel, at the end of which you will find a hole in the wall, like the needle hole, you can’t get through so easily, you will have to crawl on your stomach.  Yes, you will have to do the same way ancient tombs robbers once did it. Then you will find a larger passage way and huge blocks of limestone, midway across this tunnel you will find the entrance to the burial chamber, it is so impressive, so elegant, all of limestone.  At the end of the chamber there is a huge granite sarcophagus with the lid slightly set opened. It was plundered by tomb robbers thousands of years ago. The mummy was never found, most probably it was taken by the robbers.  There underneath the lid, you will notice a small ancient hammer stuck underneath the heavy led, forgotten by the ancient tomb robbers. It is great to see and touch, to put your hand on the handle of something that is thousands of years old.  It is the highlight of the visit.  And yes when you are finished, to get out of the tomb, you have to use the same way as you did to get in!!!

In front of the eastern side of the pyramid you will find a small funerary temple that is still intact. When you enter the temple, notice that in front of the door at the western wall you can see the black graffiti that was left by the travelers from the 19th dynasty who came there and recorded their visit.  The temple has no paintings or inscriptions. In front of the temple you can see the causeway that traditionally led to the mummification temple located at the end of the causeway.   Unfortunately the mummification temple has been destroyed and nothing left of it..

Source of info by permission from www.ask-aladdin.com

The Pyramids of Dahshour

The Pyramids of Dahshour always evoke in me a great part of the history of ancient Egypt. Although that area is not a major tourist site like the plateau of Giza, it seems to me like a wonderful book which tells us great glorious events of the Ancient Egyptian History.

Dahshour is among the most important cemeteries of the vast necropolis of the great capital Memphis.

It is located about 30 km to the south  of pyramids  of Giza, located to the southern wing of Saqqara. The area contains some pyramids of the IV and the XII dynasties. here there is the pyramid of Amenemhat III called the black pyramid and the pyramid Amenemhat II.

In fact, the great king Snefru ( 2680-2656 B.C) the founder of the IV dynasty was the first  to choose the area to build his royal tomb since it was near to the capital Memphis.

He started with the southern Pyramid,  or what we call today the bent pyramid , at first they did a mistake with this one , the ancient did not realise such mistake but when the height of this building reached about 48 m. according to an angle of 54 degrees approx. they changed the original plan to make it more save and finish it over  by modifying the angle to be just 43 degrees, and that was the reason of the actual strange shape of the Pyramid. So that today it is called the Bent Pyramid, or the “Rhomboid Pyramid”. Analyzing the reason of that change we supposed that the angle of 54 degrees was going to result in a very huge and high pyramid which would be unsafe, especially when some cracks appeared which were filled with Gypsum later.

Any way, the Southern Pyramid of Dahshour was built of local limestone cased with Turah fine limestone. It is about 101 in height while each side of its base is 188,6 in length. The original entrance of the pyramid is on the northern face as usual, but Professor Ahmed Fhakhry during his works in the area in 1951, he discovered another entrance on its western side.

One of the most remarkable features about that pyramid is the existence of Cedar beams which probably had been imported from Lebanon. At the east of the Pyramid is a small Mortuary Temple consisting of a small shrine. Besides, there is a small subsidiary pyramid lies to the south of the pyramid. It was cleared in 1947 by the Egyptologist Abd El- Salam Hussein.

About 2 km away to the north of the Southern Pyramid another Pyramid was built for king Snefru. This time the architect avoided all the other previous mistakes shown in the Bent Pyramid by following the same angle from bottom to top, and the angle was 43 degrees. Actually it was the first success in history of mankind to build a complete pyramid, and that was the example of all the pyramids which appeared during the IV, V, and VI dynasties. This Pyramid is known as ” the Northern Pyramid” according to its location, also it is called the Red Pyramid since the builders used a very especial kind of rosette blocks of limestone to built the inner burial chamber. It is 99 M in height while each side of the base is 220 m. in length.

The open air-museum of Memphis

pharonic sites

The open air-museum of Memphis:

Memphis was the oldest capital of ancient Egypt, the first one that was founded after the unification of upper and Lower Egypt

The city was founded in the first dynasty (3100 BC). It is located 20 KM to the south of Cairo, the founder of the city is king Narmar, Memphis served to be the capital of ancient Egypt during the time of  the old kingdom. The name of Memphis is driven from the ancient Egyptian name given to the city, it was called Min-Nefer, and the Greeks called it Memphis, today is the location of a local village called Mit Rahina

The local god of Memphis was called god Petah, god of creation and workmen, he was worshiped with his wife goddess Sekhmet and their sun god Nefer-tom.

Nothing much remind from ancient Memphis, except some monuments from the new kingdom period and later period.

There you will see an open air museum exhibiting a limestone colossus of king Ramsis II (1305-1237 BC ) and I giant alabaster sphinx  weighting more than 80 tons of weight, that once stood out side the massive temple of god Petah.

As well remains of granite statues of Ramsis II and granites coffins and commemorative tablets from later periods.

The Colossi of Memnon

pharonic sites

Enroot when you visit the west bank of Luxor, the first monument that will encounter you before the ticket office, will be two gigantic statues known as the colossi of Memnon.

The two huge figures of Amenhotep III were set up in front of his Mortuary temple which most probably was destroyed for unknown reasons. These two colossi are made of sandstone which during ancient times was brought from Gabal El Silselah. Each colossus including the pedestal and the crown is about 16 M in height.

The Greeks named them after the Trojan hero Memnon who was killed by Achilles.

Parts of the northern statue fell and it was cracked because during an earthquake that took place in the year 27 BC.

They became famous in the Roman period because they were said to have sung!

Memnon

Some theories attribute this phenomenon to the expansion of the stone when it was warmed by the sun during the day and then the natural contraction in the evening. Other theory suggested that the reason is due to the wind reverberating through the cracks.

Unfortunately the restoration which took place during the time of the Roman Emperor Septemius Severus (A.D193-212) made that sound to stop forever! Yes it no longer sings!

This site became a popular resort in the Roman Period and many famous Roman travelers and other travelers throughout the centuries wrote verses and poems about those massive statues and left epigrams upon the stone.

Each statue represents king Amenhotep III seating on his throne, wearing the Nemes or the royal headdress while the divine cobra is protecting his forehead. On the sides of the colossi there is a representation of the Nile god Hapi bending togather the lotus and the papyrus plants, symbolizing the Union of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Temple of Philae

pharonic sites

Philae is a rocky island in the middle of the course of the Nile at the south of Aswan. It was called in Hieroglyphic “Apo” which means Ivory. most probably it was an important scepter of trade especially  for the ivory.

Ancient Egyptian built a beautiful and magnificent temple on this island for goddess Isis , the temple had submerged in the water after building the first Aswan dam in 1906.

it was not until the seventies that the  Egyptologists together with the UNESCO selected a suitable place to save the temples of the island form the water, they had to wait till the completion of the high dam in 1971 which in turn stabilized the level of the water around the island .

There was an island called Egilica and it was reshaped to the same landscape of  Philae as closely as possible.

Then the a coffer dam was built around the temple where the water was shifted and the temple was then dismantled and  was transferred stone by stone  from the submerged island of Philae to Egilica island.

It was a very complicated and massive project taking over than 9 years to be accomplished

Finally the temple was reopened in its new location in 1980.

A great temple which occupies about the quarter of the island area. It is the main temple of the island with its huge an complete pylons and beautiful scenes.

The works of its construction began during the reign of Ptolemy II, then some others Ptolemaic kings contributed by adding some additions to the main temple like Ptolemy IV, Ptolemy V, PtolomeusVI, Ptolemy II and Ptolemy XI.

The temple is built of the same style of the temples of the New kingdom in addition to some other elements which appeared in the Greco-Roman period such as the Mammisi ( the House of the divine birth of Horus), and the Nilometer .

Mainly the temple of Isis consists of The 1st Pylon which is a great traditional pylon with two towers, and an open forecourt which leads to the 2nd pylon and on the left hand this court is the Mamisi or the house of the divine birth of Horus which has  scenes depicting of this birth of god Horus by his mother ISIS .

The 2nd Pylon leads to a Hypostyle Hall with 10 columns, then 3 vestibules leading to a sanctuary.

The most ancient remains of the temples of Philae date back to the reign of king Taharqa ( the 25th dynasty) who built a chapel for goddess Isis in the island. But the famous temple of Isis is the most important one.

In addition to the main temple of Isis there are other monuments such as :

The Kiosk of Trajan Chapel of Osiris, The Temple of Horus, The temple of Hathor, The Gate way of Tiberius, the Gateway of Diocletian ,and the temple of August.

The temples of the island were neglected and some of them destroyed after the official of the Roman Emperor to Christianity and during the reign of the Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D) the main temple was converted to a basilica or church.

Temple of karnak

pharonic sites

This great Temple of Amon Ra was known during the Middle Kingdom period as Ipt-Swt, which means the Selected Spot. It was also called Pr-Imn, which means the House of Amon. The name Al-Karnak in Arabic was derived from Karnak, which means fortified village, probably because the Arabs found many Temples and buildings in the area when they entered it for first time.

On your way towards the entrance you will find a ram-headed avenue of Sphinxes, which was built to protect the Temple. There are 20 rams on each side, extending from the small harbor to the 1st Pylon, which was built during the time of King Nektanebo I (30th Dynasty). As you cross this pylon, it takes you into an Open court, whose dimensions are100m long by 80m wide, built during the 22nd Dynasty, and containing rows of bud papyrus columns.

In the middle of the 1st Open court, there is a huge column, which is 21m high and has a bud papyrus capital. This part is known as the kiosk of Taharqa who ruled during the 25th Dynasty. This is the only column left from a colonnade that once had 10 columns.

On the left side of this Court there are 3 chapels, which were built by King Seti II for the “Triad of Thebes”. On the right side is the Temple of Ramses III. This Temple consists of a small pylon, an open court and Hypostyle hall, leading to the sanctuary.

Horemheb built the 2nd Pylon during the 18th Dynasty, though it is now badly damaged. Ramses I, the founder of the 19th Dynasty, later completed it. Passing the 2nd Pylon, we enter the Great Hypostyle Hall, which measures 103m in length and 52m in width. It contains 134 papyrus columns; each column is about 22m in height and 3.5m in diameter. Amenhotep III built it and Ramses I, Seti I, and Ramses II decorated it, while King Seti I erected the other 122 columns in 14 rows.

The ceiling in the centre is higher than the laterals, and it allows light into this spot, which was the processional avenue of the Triad during the festival of the Opet. The scenes of the Hypostyle Hall represent King Seti I, in front of different deities, making offerings, while the southern wall is decorated with scenes of Ramses II, making offerings to the different deities or worshipping the Triad of Thebes.

The Hypostyle Hall leads to The 3rd Pylon, which was built by Amenhotep III. It is remarkable that stones from previous periods were found incrusted in that Pylon, for example, the marble alabaster of Amenhotep I!

Crossing the 3rd Pylon, you come to an open, rectangular court, which is known as the Court of Tuthmosis I. In this court, Tuthmosis I erected 2 obelisks, as most probably this area was the main entrance of the Temple during his reign. Unfortunately, only one obelisk has survived: 19m high and around 310 tons in weight.

From the Court of Tuthmosis, we reach the 4th Pylon, which Tuthmosis I also built; beyond this is a rectangular colonnade, which he built as well. When Hatshepsut ascended to the throne she built 2 obelisks in that colonnade, the left one is still in its original position: 29.5m in height, 322 tons in weight and made of red granite!

After the death of Queen Hatshepsut, King Tuthmoses III built a high, long wall around these 2 obelisks to hide them.

The 5th Pylon, yet again built by Tuthmosis I, is damaged and on both sides of the entrance,Tuthmosis III built two small rooms.

We are now at the 6th Pylon, which was built by Tuthmosis III. Beyond this pylon Tuthmosis III built his famous hall, which is known as the Ancestral Room. The original Sanctuary was built by Tuthmosis III, but Philip Arrhidaeus, the half brother of Alexander the Great, later rebuilt it.

The sanctuary was built of granite, and it was dedicated to the sacred boat of Amon Ra. Behind the sanctuary you will see a court, dating back to the time of the Middle Kingdom. It is a wide-open courtyard that is badly damaged now. Most probably this spot was the site of an old Temple, dating back to the time of the Middle Kingdom: the origin of the Karnak Temple.

At the end of the Middle Kingdom Courtyard, there is another Hall known as the Akh-Mnw, or the Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III. The hall in the north of the area is called The Botanical Room. This is because the walls were decorated with scenes of plants, animals and birds, which were brought from Syria, to Egypt, by the King.

Now we shall go back through the temple until we reach the Court of Tuthmosis 1 again (between the 4th and 3rd Pylons).

Turning left, we enter a courtyard, which is in front of the 7th Pylon. In 1902, the French Egyptologist Georges Legrain (1865–1917) discovered a very precious collection of statues hidden in the ground of this court, which is now known as the Court of the Cachet. The 7th Pylon, which is badly damaged, was built by Tuthmosis III.

Crossing the 7th Pylon to the court beyond, you will see 2 statues of Ramses II and Tuthmosis III.

The 8th Pylon was built by Hatshepsut, decorated by Tuthmosis III, and restored by Seti I. The scenes on the façade of the Pylon represent Hatshepsut with different deities, and a religious scene featuring Tuthmosis III.

On the left side of the Court, between the 9th and 10th Pylons, are the remains of the Heb-Sed Shrine, which was built by Amenhotep II and decorated by Seti I.

The 9th Pylon, which was built by Horemheb, is badly damaged. A large number of bricks were found inside, which were being used as filling. They belonged to the Aton Temple, which was built by Amenhotep VI (Akhenaten) in the 18th Dynasty and destroyed by later Kings who wanted to eliminate all traces of the “heretic” King.

Finally we reach the 10th Pylon, damaged as well, and again built by King Horemheb. In front of this Pylon there are the remains of an avenue of Sphinxes, built by Horemheb, and extending to the gate of Ptolemy II in front of Mut Temple.

Before leaving the Temple of Amon Ra at Karnak you should visit the Sacred Lake, which goes back to the time of Tuthmosis III. It measures 80m in length and 40m in width. Near the Sacred Lake there is a scarab, which is considered the biggest scarab left from Ancient Egypt, dating from the reign of Amenhotep III. The Ancient Egyptians called the scarab, Khebry, and it was the symbol of the Sun God. The word itself means to create; it was thought to bring to the sun in the early morning.

Luxor Temple

Pharonic sites

Luxor Temple, or The Temple of Luxor, is among the most beautiful Temples in Egypt. It was known in the New Kingdom period as Ipt-Rsyt, which means the southern shrine. This was to differentiate between this Temple and Karnak Temple, which was the northern house of Amon Ra.

Amenhotep III built Luxor Temple. The architect and overseer of the works of construction was the genius Amenhotep, son of Habu. The Temple run close and parallel to the river Nile from north to south. It was constructed on the site of a small Temple of Amon, built by kings of the 12th dynasty. At the time of Amenhotep III the Temple was only 190m in length and 55m in width. Basically, Luxor Temple was consecrated to Amon Ra in his fertility aspect.

Ramses II, with the help of his architect Pak-in Khonso, added the front part and completed the Temple. He also added the present large forecourt, and a Pylon at the (northern) front of the Temple. Kings Merenpetah, Seti I, Ramses III, Ramses IV and Ramses VI built many more small additions. Alexander the Great rebuilt the Sanctuary.

During the Christian era, the inner section was converted to a church. The Muslims built a Mosque in the 10th century, which is known as the Mosque of Abou El-Hagag.

King Nektanebo built the Sphinx Avenue in front of the Temple that leads to the entrance. In front of the Great Pylon of Ramses II, there once were 2 obelisks. Only one of them remains standing! The other was transported, in 1819, to La Place de le Concorde in Paris, as a gift to King Philip Louis of France by Mohamed Ali (who ruled Egypt 1805-1850 A.D), after he was given a French clock, which has never worked properly – even to this day!

There were 6 standing statues in front of the Pylon, only one of them, on the western side, is still in place.

Flanking the gate of the first pylon, which is 24m high, there are two seated colossi representing King Ramses II, seated on his throne, with all the royal features. Both towers of this pylon were once decorated with relief’s depicting the Battle of Kadesh, fought between the armies of Egypt and the Hittites, in present day Syria. The 1st open court has double rows of 32 papyrus bud columns.

To the right side of the open court there is an old triple shrine made by Queen Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III, dedicated to the sacred boats of the “Triad of Thebes”. To the left is the Mosque of Abou El-Hagag.

The open court of Ramses II leads to the Colonnade, which was built by Amenhotep III, and decorated byTutankhamen and later, Horemheb; Seti I, Ramses II, and Seti II all recorded their names there. It consists of two pairs of large open papyrus columns, which are arranged to make a long processional avenue. The walls of this colonnade are decorated by scenes of the Opt Festival, special ceremonies for the visit of the “Triad of Karnak” to the Temple of Luxor. This feast lasted for about 24 days, including the return to the Karnak Temple.

The colonnade leads to the Court of Amenhotep III (52m in length and 46m in width). It has a double row of clustered round papyrus bud columns on three sides. The Court of Amenhotep III leads to the Hypostyle Hall, which consists

of 32 columns arranged in 4 columns and 8 columns each. To the left of the Hypostyle Hall stands a Roman altar, bearing Latin inscriptions, dedicated to Emperor Augustus. On the walls of the Hypostyle Hall, there are some reliefs representing Amenhotep III hunting and killing a gazelle in front of Amon Ra, and other scenes representing the King in front of various deities.

On the rear of The Hypostyle Hall, and on both sides of the central doorway,

There are 2 long chapels. The one to the east is dedicated to Mut and the One to the west dedicated to Khonso. The Hypostyle opens south to the 1st Antechamber, which originally had 8 columns, but they were removed when the antechamber was converted into a Christian Church.

The Birth Room situated to the east, is a side room with 3 columns. Most of the scenes, depicting the divine birth of King Amenhotep III, are in very poor condition.

After the Birth Room there is another 3 columned chamber, also with badly damaged relief’s, and then the Sanctuary of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great, who removed the 4 original columns and built a chapel, open to the north and to the south, rebuilt this sanctuary, which once had a golden plated statue of Amon Ra. Fortunately he did not remove the relief’s on the walls.

From the shrine of Alexander the Great, we enter a 2nd antechamber, which has 4 papyrus bud columns. After passing the 2nd antechamber, there are 2 offering rooms, in poor condition, with their scenes also badly damaged.

The original sanctuary is a small chamber with 4 clustered papyrus columns. The walls of this room are decorated with scenes depicting Amenhotep III dancing before the God Amon Ra. The outside walls of the Temple, on the west side, are covered with scenes and inscriptions, again representing the battle of Kadesh.

This was the work of Ramses II to commemorate his “victory” over the Hittites.

Temple of Edfu

Edfu is located 60 Km to the north of Aswan. It was the 2nd Nome of Upper Egypt and the centre of the cult of a triad of gods which consists of Horus of Behdet, Hathor, and their son Hor – Sama-Tawy. In the old Greek documents, Edfu was known by “Apollopolis Magna” because the Greek identified Horus with God Apollo.  Edfu was a flourishing city during ancient Times. Today the most important monument in the city of Edfu is the temple of Horus which is considered one of the most beautiful and preserved temples in Egypt.

The Temple of Edfu:

The origins of that temple probably date back to the Second Intermediate Period but the actual temple dates back to the Ptolemaic period. The work of construction began during the reign of Ptolemy III (about 237 BC) and was finished during the reign of Ptolemy IV. Some other additions were done by other Ptolemaic kings and Roman Emperor Augustus. The construction of this temple and the additions, inscriptions, and relieves took about 180 years to be

nsists of traditional elements of Egyptian temples of the New Kingdom together with a few Greek elements, such as the Mammisi which is situated to the West of the main entrance of the temple. A mammisi means the house of the divine birth. It consists of an entrance, a court, and chapel. The walls of the Mammisi are decorated with scenes showing the story of the divine birth of Horus the child in the presence of Goddess Hathor, God Khenoum and other deities and Goddesses who were concerned with pregnancy and birth.

Temple consists of:

1- Pylon which considered the highest among surviving temples in Egypt today. It is 37 M high and decorated with battle scenes representing King Ptolemy VIII smiting his enemies before God Horus.

2- An Open Courtyard contains columns with floral capitals on three sides. This open court was open to the public and it was known as the court of the offerings. It is where people can give their offering to the statue of the God.

3- The Hypostyle Hall, where its rectangular hall and its roof are supported by 12 columns. On both sides of the entrance of the Hypostyle hall stands a statue of Horus of Behdet, which takes the shape of a falcon, also this hall is known as the outer Hypostyle Hall.

4- The Inner Hypostyle Hall is accessed by an entrance beyond the 1st Hypostyle Hall. Its roof is supported by 12 columns to the right and the left sides there are 2 rooms; one was used as a library that once contained a large number of manuscripts. The other room was used as a storeroom or magazine for the utensils and the tools of the temple.

5- Two consecutive vestibules, the outer one is called the hall of the offerings where the walls are decorated with various scenes representing the different deities and offering scenes by the different Ptolemaic Kings. The inner vestibule was called the rest house of the Gods.

6- At the end of the temple is the sanctuary which includes a niche of gray granite where the statue of the god is supposed to be placed.

In front of the Neos is a pedestal for the resting of the divine boat.

7- The sanctuary is surrounded by 12 rooms from the outside; where many religious Scenes on their walls were depicted.

In fact some of these rooms were used as storerooms while the others were dedicated for different religious purposes.

One of the most remarkable elements of the temple is the existence of a Nilometer, as well as a chapel which was dedicated to Goddess Nut.

On the various walls of the temple, there are many battle scenes as well as the famous scene of the ritual of the temple foundation.

The Northern wall of the court shows the divine marriage of Hathor and Horus of Behdet which was celebrated twice every year. Once at Dendara temple and the second time in Edfu temple.

On the Northern wall of the court the visitor can see the scene which represents the Journey of Hathor from Dendara to Edfu and the vice versa.

Another scene on the inside of the outer corridor of the western side of the temple, It depicts the legend of the conflict between Horus and Seth and the Victory of Horus over his Uncle and his coronation to rule the World.

Valley Of The Kings

Apart from the archaeological interest in understanding how a New Kingdom settlement once looked like, the worker’s village of Deir El-Medina also reveals vital information about how New Kingdom tombs were built from the various ostraca (a piece of rock with drawings or writing on it) and papyri found in the village or in the nearby “great pit”. When these finds are added to the ones discovered at the Valley of the Kings, a clear picture of how these tombs were built emerges. Add to this the many tombs left in various stages of completion and a full picture of tomb construction in the New Kingdom can be gleaned, though some details are vaguer and speculation still has to be employed.

Location
So far there is no evidence relating to why each tomb in the valley was located in its specific location and when looking at a map of the valley one thing seems to emerge; they appear to have been dug in a random manner. Because of this a few tomb collisions did occur, but it is amazing that these did not happen more often.

The location for a new tomb was chosen by the vizier, who was accompanied by the architects and chief stonemasons, and later approved of by the king. It would have been harder for the later viziers to select sites due to the best locations in the cliffs already being used and the subsequent lack of space caused by the earlier tombs, as well as the knowledge that the valley had an inclination to flood. The correct positioning of the site must have been a very important decision to make and several factors would have influenced the choice; what was the quality of the rock? Was the site easily accessed and secure? Was the rock face suitable for a tomb entrance? The commencement and subsequent abandonment of several tombs occurs throughout the valley, though any detailed study on them has never occurred. The many hill ends, which protrude from the edges of the valley, became the setting for most of the 20th Dynasty tombs due to these being the most suitable places to cut new tombs. Though some scholars say that maps must have been made in order to avoid running into already existing tombs, this seems more like speculation as the valley had been chosen for its secrecy, hence the mortuary temples being separated from their relevant burial sites and built on the other side of the mountain, and any maps would have been a boon to tomb robbers.

Once the site had been chosen a dedication ceremony may have occurred as foundation deposits, similar to those used in temple dedications, have been discovered adjacent to many of the tomb entrances, though some scholars reject this. As these tombs were being cut into the body of the mountain that was sacred to the goddesses Hathor and Meretseger, and knowing the ancient Egyptians belief in religion and magic, it would be feasible to consider that some kind of dedication or offering was made to appease the gods; the gods who would watch over the deceased king. These foundation deposits contained many different items including objects of ritual importance. It is unclear why not every tomb had pits dug for these deposits, though some may have been stolen or simply lost through time.

Planning
Once more speculation occurs and this time it is about the discovery of two important documents which show the layouts of two separate tombs. This speculation is about whether the designs are plans of tombs to be constructed or pictures of tombs already constructed.

There is a plan of the tomb of Ramesses IV (KV2), in the Turin museum and it is a very detailed representation of the tomb, showing the corridors, and their names, as well as the placement of the king’s sarcophagus. The papyrus was written in hieratic and it also gives the various dimensions of the tomb. The debate, however, is whether it was actually a plan for the tomb, or a drawing after its completion

An ostraca was found in the debris of the tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6), which is now in the Cairo museum, whilst the tomb was being cleared in 1888. A simple illustration, with no details, it shows the access stairway next to the ramp used to draw the sarcophagus into the tomb. It also shows the side niches, or annexes, used to hold statues and/or accessories, doors and corridors, recesses and pillars, the ramp to the lower levels, and the burial chamber, including the floor recess for the sarcophagus. Again, whether it was actually a plan for the tomb, or a drawing after its completion is questioned by scholars.

Apart from the two aforementioned tomb illustrations, many ostraca have been found, at both Deir El-Medina and the Valley of the Kings, that also show designs of various tombs, several of which have been studied and been matched with their relevant tombs though, as in the case of the two illustrations above, the question of them being a “blueprint” or a “memento” has not been decided upon.

A list of the KV’s discovered (so far!)
KV 01 Ramses VII KV 22 Amenhetep III KV 52 Animals
KV 02 Ramses IV KV 23 Ay KV 53 Unknown
KV 03 Cache of Ramses III KV 24 Unknown KV 54 Cache of Tutankhamen
KV 04 Ramses XI KV 25 Akhenaten (?) KV 55 Tiye, Akhenaten or Other
KV 05 Sons of Ramses II KV 26 Unknown KV 56 Unknown
KV 06 Ramses IX KV 27 Unknown KV 57 Horemheb
KV 07 Ramses II KV 28 Unknown KV 58 Cache of Ay
KV 08 Merenptah KV 29 Unknown KV 59 Unknown
KV 09 Ramses V / VI KV 30 Unknown KV 60 Two Women (Setri In?)
KV 10 Amenmeses KV 31 Unknown KV 61 Unknown
KV 11 Ramses III KV 32 Unknown KV 62 Tutankhamen
KV 12 Unknown KV 42 Hatshepsut-Meryetre KV 63 New Tomb – Unknown
KV 13 Bay KV 43 Tuthmosis IV
KV 14 Tausert / Setnakht KV 44 Anen (?)
KV 15 Seti II KV 45 Userhet
KV 16 Ramses I KV 46 Yuya and Thuya
KV 17 Seti I KV 47 Siptah
KV 18 Ramses X KV 48 Amenemopet
KV 19 Mentuherkhepshef KV 49 Maya (?)
KV 20 Hatshepsut KV 50 Animals
KV 21 Two Queens KV 51 Animals