PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — Into Egypt, Day 5

Today was one for the bucket list, but I am going to divide my posts up a bit because I think a picture is worth more than 1000 words. 

In the morning we were joined by Cindy’s friend, Ellen, who flew in from Los Angeles to join us for the last part of our time in Cairo and our cruise.

After meeting our Egyptologist, we headed off to navigate the streets of Cairo. Two memorable moments included our driver, literally stopping traffic so that he could rescue a poor little kitty in the road and bring it to safety and being stuck in a traffic jam caused by a donkey cart.

Our first stop was Sakkara, where King Zoser’s Step Pyramid was “built to last ’till the ends of time.”  This vast site in the heart of a desert plateau is the largest necropolis(tomb site) in Egypt. Extending for almost five miles, the complex forms a collection of pyramids, temples and tombs that is fundamental to understanding the history of ancient Egypt. It is still an active archaeological site with new discoveries happening, literally daily. They keep uncovering new finds, often discovered after a donkeys legs fall through the ground, revealing a tomb. As we drove up, we passed people involved in the dig.

I found the tour of the tombs, which were used by wealthy people — as pyramids are only for kings — really intriguing. They depicted in bas relief the people who built them during their lifetime, in hope for in the afterlife. They included carvings in bas relief — food, servants, offerings and basically their wish list for what they wanted life to be like when they left this world — shown on the wall to illustrate their hopes and dreams.

The two most amusing things were the fact that we were told that cabbage was basically the Viagra of ancient Egypt and the men who built the tomb seemed to have a great desire for large cabbage. The other amazing thing was that they depicted the people they wanted with them, and to visit them in the afterlife. However, if they got angry at someone, they would go in and out, scrape them out of the rock, erasing them from their afterlife. The first form of cancel culture.

We saw the step pyramid, which included a fascinating temple next to it and some amazing architectural innovations, including windows that served as clocks as lights struck them. I stand in awe of the architectural wizardry from 5,000 years ago.

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