‘I need you to shake a leg guys’ was Sonia’s mantra as she took us back in time to the ancient Egyptian resting places for pharaohs and their important officials. Sonia was our guide for the day in Cairo. Her energy and enthusiasm was so infectious as she excitedly described what life was like over 3,500 years ago in Egypt.
Our first port of call was Saqqara. A huge ancient burial ground that served the former Egyptian capital of a Memphis for more than 3,500 years. It also contains the oldest of Egypt’s pyramids; the Step Pyramid built over 4,700 years ago for King Djoser of the 3rd dynasty.
Confusingly King Djoser is also known as King Zoser but his actual name was Netjerykhef!!!
Shaking a leg we swiftly moved onto Dashur which is around 10 km south of Saqqara. Here the two pyramids that remain are the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid.
The first of the two, the Bent Pyramid was built in 2,600 BC by the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Sneferu. A builder he was not. This smooth sided Pyramid was not a success for the King. Miscalculations lead to the Pyramid to subside on the soft ground. Another blunder was made by using blocks that were placed with an uneven distribution in weight resulting in the ‘Bent’ angle of the Pyramid.
The King was not happy with his deformed Bent Pyramid and had a second one built using a much better technique. He now had a normal looking Pyramid named the Red Pyramid due to red tones of the limestone.
We then hiked up the 125 steep steps that brought you to the entrance of the Red Pyramid to be faced with a steep 63 metre walkway down, down, down into the burial chamber. These Egyptians must’ve been tiny. The crouching whilst walking position that was required to enter the tomb resulted in straining a leg rather than shaking it!
With a final leg shake we visited the last of the seven wonders of the ancient world; the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Sonia told us that the millions of stone bricks used to construct the Pyramid would, if laid end to end, cover the perimeter of France! Not totally convinced by that fact but it sounds good!