Return to the Pyramids of Giza
Join Maxine on her return visit to Giza, and the Pyramids of GizaVia Magic Carpet Journals. Story and Photos by M. Maxine George
The Pyramids of Egypt, those sentinels of the desert, await our arrival. Built nearly 5,000 years ago, they have stirred the imagination of people for many generations. How did man build them? Many hypothesis have been ventured. Many archeologists have spent lifetimes searching for clues and studying them, but only a few definitive answers have been eked out.
Thirty years ago I fulfilled a lifelong ambition to visit this place. At the end of that visit I expressed the desire to return here again. Now, here I was again fulfilling that wish. Last night I sat on the deck outside of my room at the Mena House Hotel and watched the moon light dancing on these same edifices as it has over the many centuries. Now this morning I am joyfully on my way to the pyramids again.
Driving along Pyramid Road, with businesses and hotels on each side, the pyramids seemed to be way off in the distance, but suddenly the city stops and there atop a rock base in that sea of sand, sit the spectacular mounds of rock known as the Pyramids of Giza. Most of us think of this as just three pyramids, but visible to the eye, depending on the vantage point from which you are observing the complex, one can see the three gigantic pyramids, also three small pyramids, the Sphinx and numerous other unidentified piles of rock, which were once various temples or tombs, with connections to the pyramids. The complex is still being explored. Much is known of the site, but archeologists, from throughout the world, have been digging there for centuries, and will continue to dig for many more years to come, I am sure. They frequently follow new finds or new theories, piecing together more of the puzzle. Some theories have changed since my first visit as more information has been discovered or deciphered.
The Great Pyramid or Cheops as it is known, was built by the Pharaoh Khufu, who was known to the Greeks as Cheops. He commissioned the building of that pyramid during his reign, which was believed to have been at least 23 years, but may have been as long as 63 years, depending on which historian is to be believed. This pyramid was the first and largest pyramid built here at Giza.
The second pyramid, Chefren or Khafre, was built by Khafre, a son of Khufu. Khafre succeeded his older brother, Djedefre to the throne of Egypt. He is also believed to have been the Pharaoh that is depicted on the face of the Sphinx, which was built in about 2500 BC. Upon comparison, a statue of Khafre shows a remarkable likeness to the face of the Sphinx.
Mycernius, the third and smaller of the three pyramids, is believed to have been built by the Pharaoh Menkaure, the son of Khafre. He is thought to have brought peace and piety to Egypt during his reign. The completion of his pyramid brought to an end the frenetic pyramid building that took place in a remarkable short time, 2589 and 2504 BC, over the lives of three generations of the same family.
Of the three pyramids, Mycerinus or Menkaure is the smallest. This pyramid has three much smaller mini-pyramids as neighbours. These were once believed to be the burial chambers of the wives of the Pharaoh Mycerinus. In recent years more information has come to light about these pyramids. One of these small pyramids is now known to be the burial chamber of Khufu’s mother, Hensutsen; a second belonged to his wife, who was probably also his sister, Merites. The owner of the middle small pyramid is still being debated
Coming back here in the twenty-first century, I found the site of the pyramids has been upgraded for the tourists. Paved roads bring the buses into the area, and cement walks lead the tourist from the parking area to where the pyramids can be better viewed. I would say these fabulous sites are inconspicuously but carefully supervised .
The Solar Boat Museum, a smaller man made structure, houses one of the two boats archeologists have found on the site. A 43 metre long boat, which was painstakingly restored from 1200 pieces of cedar wood is displayed there. The pits where the boats had been uncovered are still there to see. There are believed to be at least five boats that were buried somewhere in the area. The boats were very important to the early Egyptians, as they believed that the gods required the boats to move back and forth from the underworld.
I was determined to ride a camel again. Not that mounting the capricious animal was an easy climb for me now. In fact, I overshot the mark, nearly pitching over the other side, and ended up struggling to get a perch that would remain in place for the duration of the ride. I seemed to be mounted on top of a slippery slope, so was constantly having to get a good grip on the saddle horn in front of me and also grab the one behind to yank myself into a more stable position. Hardly ready, we started off into the sand dunes towards the sand hill from which we were able to get a good look at the whole panorama of the pyramids. Truly a majestic scene. I kept a good grip on the saddle horn and managed to retain my seat for the duration of the camel ride. On examination of my pictures taken that day, I discovered a picture of my tenacious grip on that saddle horn, which seems to have been taken by the camera with no help from me. Obviously as both of my hands were busy!
On our return we were offered the opportunity to go into one of the smaller pyramids. I knew I probably should have made a wiser choice and stayed outside, but fate tempted me again. “The pyramid really is much smaller than the big pyramids,” I thought. But I have to admit I am 30 years older than my first pyramid climb. The method of entry was much the same, a ramp, with metal crosspieces, that require careful placement of your feet, while having to bend for the low ceiling. Even Marion, known in our family as “the Short One,” was surprised to learn that even she had to keep her head down all the time. After reaching a certain depth, we were able to continue down into the chamber by way of a ladder. The interior of this pyramid was a room, not very large, with no decoration, but a few of us were all in there at the same time. As we started our climb out, I began to realize why I should have passed up this opportunity. My legs really let me know they were not happy with the climb. I did make it out, but it took some convincing before my legs would allow me to keep up with the rest of our group again. Fortunately my problems did not last long. A rest during the bus ride to our next destination took care of that.
The fact that I had been here before and knew a fair bit of the history of this site helped me to enjoy and understand what I was seeing again. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to return to see the changes that have occurred at this complex and hear about the advances that have been made by the studies being done in the past 30 years. This indeed is still and will always be one of the Great Wonders of the World.
Story by M. Maxine George
Pictures by M. Maxine George, Marion George, and Mario Bergeron
Last updated December 21, 2020 by Matthew George – Webmaster