We are stepping back in time again today, day two of our Egyptian adventure to approximately 2600 BC and the time of the great Pharaoh Sneferu, a 4th Dynasty (Golden Age) Pharaoh who reigned for approximately 24 years and was responsible for building at least 4 pyramids, we were starting with the ‘Bent’ and ‘Red’ Pyramids at Dahshur necropolis.
The ‘Bent Pyramid’ is believed to be an experiment, the 2nd Pyramid built by Sneferu and likely transitional from a design perspective from step, to smooth sided (like the Red Pyramid constructed after), the angle of the top section changed due to visible instability during construction.
It was known in ancient times as ‘The Shinning South Pyramid’, most likely due to the way the sun reflected off the Limestone casing which is still quite intact. Despite being relatively early it was hot, the intense sun amplified by the barren stone surroundings.
Khufu was Sneferu’s son and heir, famous for his construction on the Giza Plateau, these historic monuments which were a precursor to the Giza structures are still nothing short of unbelievable. How on earth……..!
Our lovely guide Ali explained some of the history behind the mammoth structures we explored, both externally and internally, in the case of the Red Pyramid which was extremely hot, cramped, stuffy and mystical. How did they manage to construct such a massive structure, so long ago, with primitive tools, but such perfect work, it certainly gets you thinking!
The drive down to Dashur was as exciting as the previous days travelling, lots of honking horns, close misses, cars turning or getting in the way at the last second it was exciting to say the least. Although a Sunday, the roads were busy and people out and about working as Sunday is a normal day for the Muslim community.
The Red Pyramid is the third largest in Egypt, after Khufu and Khafre at the Giza Plateau, probably the 1st smooth sided pyramid and known locally as el-heram el-watwaat meaning the ‘Bat’ Pyramid. Its location is approximately 1km from the Bent pyramid as seen in the photo above top left. Typically of archaeologists, there is conjecture over the time to construct this massive structure but the suggestion of 10 – 11 years seems to be the most discussed.
We decided to take a look inside! A passage 3ft high and 4ft wide, 61 metres long was hard work in the heat as seen in the middle picture above, it lead to three chambers, the final being the resting place for the original sarcophagus, and seemingly broken up by robbers looking for treasure.
Our next stop was Saqqara, the location of the Pyramid of Djoser, the ‘Step Pyramid’ and close to the 1st capital of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, Memphis. It’s situated on a massive complex or Necropolis, an ancient burial complex which is this case, contains another 16 pyramids in various states of preservation.
Djoser is the oldest known complete stone building complex and was constructed in the 3rd Dynasty (2686 BCE – 2613 BCE, the Bronze Age), a long time ago.
Since our last visit over 20 years ago, a lot more work has been done to both uncover and preserve the ancient monuments and bring the site to life even more. It’s an impressive place to visit and deserves a lot more time to explore the various buildings, nooks and crannies. We had been lucky so far in missing other tourists, but, it was obvious at Saqqara that time was catching up with us as we noticed some coaches, and ‘people’!
Our last stop before returning to the Giza Plateau, our hotel and amazing view of the Pyramids was Memphis or Men-nefer, the capital during the Old Kingdom. There is an open air museum where the history of the city is explained, and many monuments and statues are displayed for all to see, it’s another impressive site for sure.
In the main building by the entrance is a massive (10 metre length), statue of Rameses II, carved out of limestone, it is just stunning and another ‘how the @£$% did they manage to do that, all those years ago’ moment!
It was time to return home, lunch was planned but my other half was back at the hotel suffering with bad knees and had stayed behind to rest them, so we skipped that part of the trip and headed back. We booked this and the Giza Plateau half day tours with GEM Explore Egypt on Tripadvisor, they are a London backed licensed operator and they were extremely good.
………………………Until Next Time……………..L8ers……………….