Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunday, April 17

Today was a day to explore Pharaonic Egypt. We first visited Giza, the site of three major pyramids and a short drive from downtown Cairo. We had a wonderful guide, Ashraf Mohie El Din, who illuminated this period of history with his extensive knowledge base and great story telling. He has been prominent in several National Geographic and History Channel programs, and it was fun talking with a rock star of Egyptology.

We went inside the pyramid of the Pharaoh Khufu. This pyramid took 20,000 workers 20 years to build.  Ashraf and Paul debunked my understanding that slaves built the pyramid, indicating that farmers were employed to work during their off-season. Tombs for doctors and dentists were found nearby to care for workers - there was even evidence of brain surgery done on one patient.

We were able to go inside Khufu's pyramid, walking up a narrow set of ladder-like stairs to one of the three major chambers inside.
 Image source: http://looklex.com/egypt/giza03.htm

We then drove a short distance to a promontory to view all three pyramids in the distance.

Then on to see the Sphinx at a lower elevation from the pyramids.

We then drove to the step pyramid in Saqqara, which was constructed earlier than the pyramids in Giza (about a 20 minute drive from Giza). We could see other pyramids in the distance. Ashraf said that there were 138 (!) identified pyramids in Egypt. He said many times today.... "If you can build a pyramid, you can do anything!" I'm learning so much about the many accomplishments of this ancient civilization, and today blew me away in terms of what I saw and experienced.

This afternoon, we took a walk and saw some very interesting street art commemorating the January 25 revolution (see other images in the pictures on the political art slide show on the blog).

Tonight we went to a gallery opening for Farid Fadel. His art - a mixture of oil paintings, watercolors, and pencil drawings - conveyed a variety of Egyptian scenes - from quiet street scenes to sketches of mosques to art depicting the tragedies and hopes of the revolution. It was interesting to see many of the scenes we've seen in Cairo reflected in his art, and a wonderful opportunity to experience a flavor of Cairo's rich culture.


  1. Amy- You look like you are having an amazing time! I love all the photos- but the onion truck is my favorite. You are there at an incredible time in history. Go to Tara prison and visit the boys if you can.- Cheers- David

  2. From the shallowest level, my favorite picture is you touching the top of the pyramid and the Kit Kat bar! Can you bring some home?!

  3. Looks like you are having an amazing time and learning a lot, keep having fun! -Tara