>Travel Pictures



I knew I'd seen that somewhere before! No, not just on the beer can (which made a handy photographic prop and thirst quencher!), but in all the history books. Sakkara (alternatively spelled Saqqara) is where the first of the 'pyramids' was built. The Pharaoh Dzozer wanted something dramatic for when he was buried, so his vizier Imhotep tried an innovative idea.

Most burials took place in mastabas, rectangular tombs, so he just stacked a bunch on top of each other, creating a 'step' pyramid that is still around to this day.

While not technically a true pyramid, it set the bar for the tomb-building competition that would dominate the royal families for the rest of the Old Kingdom. The ravages of time are obvious, but still it presents a wonderful place to explore and wander.
Seen from across the way, the contrast between it and other structures in the area is striking - it was incredibly well-built to be so well preserved. Inside the still standing mastabas are many scenes of funerary splendor, including sailing ships that plied the Nile's waters.
Every need and desire of the king was provided for, including hunting, fishing, and personal attendants.

Seen from the site of the Red Pyramid (below), modern buildings form a dramatic backdrop to the Sakkara complex.

The Bent Pyramid is one of the most distinctively shaped structures in the world. One of the earliest attempts at a true pyramid (unlike the step pyramid of Sakkara), the angle of inclination abruptly changes to a shallower angle. Most historians and architects agree that the initial angle was too steep for the technology of the time, and was changed during construction when structural faults were found.
Of course, what most of these so-called experts fail to account for is the super-human squeezing power that giant sized Super Susan exerted on the pyramid Compressing it from the top and the bottom, her efforts forced the pyramid to take on its ungainly proportions... 
Right across from the bent Pyramid is the appropriately named Red Pyramid, built for the same pharaoh (Sneferu in case you're keeping track).

We actually went inside this pyramid, down an incredibly steep and narrow ladder staircase, into a stiflingly hot and ammonia-smelling burial chamber. There is nothing in there now, of course, but it was pretty amazing to be down in the bowels of such an immense, all-stone structure.
Leaving the complex to return to Cairo, I was struck by the contrast between the desert and the beautiful plants. As we headed back to the big city, we also got caught in a couple of 'country traffic jams' that helped remind us just how full of contrasts life in Egypt is - from a silent, ancient tombs to a gigantic bustling megacity via a countryside full of donkey riders and sheep herders.

But everyone enjoys a shisha at the end of the day!

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