Egypt has Ruined Me
January 17, 2010 – Giza, Cairo, Egypt
Seeing the Sphinx, the pyramids and more than 25 mummies in one day would leave anyone speechless. Even me.
Years ago I was prattling on about Efes’ amazing ruins in Turkey, when my friend, who had just returned from her honeymoon in Egypt, promptly told me that once you go to Egypt, nothing else compares. I now know she was right. No other antiquity sightings will ever be on this same scale again. Egypt’s ruins have ruined me.
Part of the thrill, of course, is the sheer disbelief that you are actually seeing these iconic images in person. You keep thinking, “How could it be that I’m standing here, and 3 enormous pyramids are there.”
It takes a while for your mind to wrap around the idea that you are gazing at these engineering wonders that were built in, like, 3,000 B.C. How is this even possible? Actually, no one really knows for sure how they were built.
The Great of Pyramid of Khufu
The Great of Pyramid of Khufu is the oldest pyramid in Giza and the largest in Egypt, standing at over 146 meters. Nearly 2.5 million limestone rocks were used in its construction. To give you a bit of perspective, if these 2.5 million blocks were used to build a wall that was 3 meters thick and 5 meters tall, it would encircle the country of France. Yes, France.
And if the pyramids weren’t enough we have the Sphinx sitting there right in front of them. I don’t know where I thought the Sphinx was in relation to the pyramids, I just didn’t think he’d be right there. “Sphinx” is actually what the Greeks called this woman-headed, lion-bodied, winged monster. The Arabs called the monstrosity “Abu al-Hol” or Father of Terror.
The Sphinx is a little rough around the edges. He lost his nose somewhere between the 11th and 15th centuries, and his beard was taken in the 19th century and now resides in the British Museum. Supposedly he’s rotting away from the inside out too, due to pollution and a rising water table. His reign as the Father of Terror may be almost over.
Also a little rough around the edges, but faring much better given their age are the Royal Mummies housed at the famed Egyptian Museum. The museum itself is more like a warehouse, than an institution housing Egypt’s (arguably the world’s) most precious treasure. Ancient relics are simply propped up against the wall, covered in dust. I almost passed on the Royal Mummies exhibit (extra fee, dead bodies), but then I had some time to kill. So, I figured, why not? Why not, indeed. I’m glad I paid them a visit! All 25 of them. They were extraordinarily well preserved. Some had smooth skin and you could make out the lines on the soles of their feet. You could see their hair, their finger nails and toe nails, and teeth. Even their eyelashes! I admit, I did start to get a little creeped out in there. It was just before closing, dark outside, and dimly lit inside. I kept thinking of the movie Night at the Museum when everything came alive after dark. Half-way though the exhibit I decided it would be best not to turn my back on the mummies – just to be on the safe side. I’m telling you: Egypt is crazy cool. I saw all that magnificent splendor in just one day. Unreal. But real! As I said, I’m ruined for life.
This entry was posted on Sunday, January 17th, 2010 and is filed under Arab Region.