Giza and Memphis

November 17th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

What better way to spend a Monday than looking around the sole remaining wonder of the ancient world.

The pyramids are in the desert, but at the very border of Cairo. So it is very easy to get to them.

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These are the three main Giza pyramids. The one on the left is actually the largest – known as the Great Pyramid of Giza. The pyramids are far older than the tombs at the Valley of the Kings. They date back to around 2560 BC, so are around 4,550 years old.

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Rather than just drive up to the pyramids, I got dropped off in the desert, and enjoyed a walk through the desert. You really soak up the atmosphere that way.

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This is the Great Pyramid of Giza up close. It is estimated to have around 2.3 million blocks in total, weighing 5.9 million tonnes. You wouldn’t want someone to drop it on you!

It is thought to have taken 20 years to build, which meant moving 800 tonnes of stone a day. And they were not just dumped down. The four sides have a mean error of only 58 mm.

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The blocks have got worn over the years, but for 4,500 years of wear and tear they are holding up pretty good.

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You can climb up the first few layers, but are not allowed to ascend to the top anymore.

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A lone camel crossing the desert behind.

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I declined to go on the camels as I had been warned that the price you negotiate is only for getting onto the camel, and that afterwards you also have to negotiate a price to be helped off, and by then you are in a weak bargaining position.

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This is the smallest (but still large) of the three – the pyramid of Menkaure. The Great Pyramid is Khufu’s

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And this is the Pyramid of Khafre.

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At the apex of Khafre’s pyramid, its “coat” is still in place. The Pharoah’s didn’t actually want people climbing their tombs, so they smoothe rteh pyramids out. But over time much of the outer layer has disappeared, exposing the surface below.

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I think most people can identify the Great Sphinx. It is within walking distance of the three main pyramids. It is 74 metres tall. There is great debate about when it as created. Most think at the time of the pyramids, but some say it pre-dates them and may be over 5,000 years old.

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These shops are within 200 metres of the Sphinx. Sacrilege!

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This is the Pyramid of Djoser, over at Saqqara. It was the first Egyptian pyramid and is 4,700 years old.

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In the sand, you can see many fragments of pottery and other artefacts from the Pyramids.

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This is the general Memphis area, famous for its palm trees. Memphis was the capital of until 2200 BC.

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On the way home, went past the Saladin Citadel of Cairo. Ran out of time to look around it, so will keep for my return trip!

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20 Responses to “Giza and Memphis”

  1. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Nice pics DPF. What are those triangle things in background?

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  2. RRM (9,428 comments) says:

    Great photos dude, cheers for posting.

    (I try to pay my respects at one of The Colonel’s monuments a couple of times a month… hater.)

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  3. getstaffed (9,189 comments) says:

    What better way to spend a Monday than looking around the sole remaining wonder of the ancient world

    Sole remaining? Jim Anderton’s still here.

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  4. kiwicraig (52 comments) says:

    very cool DPF. You’ve got me looking forward to my Dec/Jan Egypt trip even more now…. I’ll be there at Giza on 27 December

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  5. Brian Smaller (3,983 comments) says:

    It is no wonder that you aren’t allowed to climb to the top as too many people have carved their names into the stones at the top of the pyramids over the years – my Dad included in 1943.

    BTW – do you think that the age of the structures there may have given way to the expression ‘that’s an old Giza’? :)

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  6. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Oh dear, the ubiquitous KFC and Pizza Hut signs. They always evoke a feeling of dissonance.

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  7. Ben Wilson (523 comments) says:

    Looks like great fun. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Richard (94 comments) says:

    You forgot the pictures of all the rubbish in the desert – quite a shock to us westerners.

    Go for the camel if you get a chance – you just pay a baksheesh of $E 20 to the guide at the end on top of what you negotiate (around $E 50 is fair for a ride of around an hour). You will notice them bribing the police to get on certain bits of the desert – by now its just amusing when you see it.

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  9. Inventory2 (10,092 comments) says:

    My father also Brian – and most of the 2NZEF, I daresay!

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  10. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Is it just coinicidence that TVNZ is running a Win an Ancient Kingdoms Holiday to Egypt promo?

    Two generations of my family went there did that got the t-shirt. The first ones had to shoot their own horses and the second lot learned a very strong dislike for sand and artillery fire that made the sand fill the holes they’d just dug.

    I raced in the Maddi Cup 5 times so I get a partial credit.

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  11. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    that top picture looks like one of those things you used to do at school..

    y’know..when you draw a triangle..?

    and then draw a circle inside it..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  12. Brian Smaller (3,983 comments) says:

    My father also Brian – and most of the 2NZEF, I daresay!

    Not to mention the 1NZEF, the Brits in the 19thC and Napoelon’s soldiers in 1799.

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  13. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and don’t forget ‘the life of brian’..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  14. Richard Hurst (754 comments) says:

    “The blocks have got worn over the years, but for 4,500 years of wear and tear they are holding up pretty good.”

    So no leaky homes then? I guess the Pyramids weren’t Council certified….lucky them.

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  15. Sushi Goblin (419 comments) says:

    What a shame the photographer didn’t position the pyramids properly, then you could have been photographed wearing a giant Illuminati helmet.

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  16. tom hunter (4,369 comments) says:

    I think that first photo in the set deserves a caption competition. Me first:

    “Ain’t no free market built these fuckers, fool!”

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  17. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    Weren’t those things built with the worlds first work for the dole scheme? Much harder to find good labour these days, though I guess there wasn’t much else to do, can’t imagine many Egyptian young men pimping their camels.

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  18. Pita (365 comments) says:

    The memory of these great historical monuments is marred by the hawkers that swarm around you like flies and the litter that is strewn everywhere.

    Hard to believe, but 60 years ago you could not see Cairo from Giza!

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  19. Lance (2,439 comments) says:

    Richard…
    You have to have rain to have a leaky home :-)

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  20. Mike78 (83 comments) says:

    Did you grab any of the mentioned artifacts or stones etc for souvenirs? I think i would be sorely tempted to have a tiny piece of 4500 year old history on my window sill :)

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