Posts Tagged With: Memphis

Touring Egypt, part 4: the earliest Egyptian pyramid in Saqqara, plus the ancient capital of Memphis

The pyramids in Giza date back over 4,500 years, a scale of time that can be difficult to comprehend. But none of the Gizan monuments can claim to be the oldest pyramid in Egypt. That distinction goes to the step pyramid built for King Djoser. You’ll find it in Saqqara, which, like Giza, is an easy day-trip from Cairo (Saqqara lies about 19 miles south of Cairo’s downtown). Saqqara is not a city; it’s a giant necropolis that, in antiquity, served the corpse-disposal needs of the nearby city of Memphis. During my September 2012 vacation to Egypt, my tour group spent a morning in the remains of Saqqara and Memphis.

SAQQARA: A CITY OF THE DEAD

Djoser’s step pyramid: a trend-setter

The centerpiece of Saqqara is the step pyramid, which was completed before Djoser’s death in 2611 B.C. — thereby predating the pyramids in Giza by about 100 years. It features a more primitive “step” pattern, rather than the smooth sides of most pyramids you’ll see.

Djoser's step pyramid at Saqqara.

Djoser’s step pyramid at Saqqara.

Although it has bragging rights within Egypt, this edifice might not be the absolute oldest pyramid in the world. Continue reading

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H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, Week 14: a lesser-known Sphinx in Egypt

We’ve made it through another week. And that means it’s time for our latest featured photo! Today’s image comes from Memphis, the second capital of Egypt (it held that status from roughly 2950 B.C. to 2180 B.C.). The Great Sphinx at Giza, which I also visited, is justly world-renowned; but there’s another sphinx in Memphis that has also endured through the ages.

the alabaster sphinx in Memphis

It’s not nearly as large as the one at Giza (it’s only about 26 feet long and 13 feet high, in contrast to the Great Sphinx at Giza which is 241 feet long); and it’s quite a bit younger (it’s believed to have been chiseled sometime between 1700 BC and 1400 BC, which means that the Memphis sphinx may have been built over a thousand years later than its Gizan counterpart). It’s been dubbed the Alabaster Sphinx, although it’s actually made out of calcite, a mineral that’s merely similar to alabaster.

This photo was taken during my trip to Egypt in September 2012.

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Categories: Africa, H-Bomb's Friday Photo, travel | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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