The Red Pyramid of Dahshur, Third Time’s the Charm

the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, Egypt

the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, Egypt

The Red Pyramid at Dahhsur, built by the pharaoh Senefru, was the first successful smooth-sided pyramid. Senefru’s first attempt at a smooth-sided pyramid, the Meidum Pyramid, collapsed. Next, he built the Bent Pyramid, which alters its angle of inclination part way up, probably as a precaution after the collapse of the pyramid at Meidum. The Red Pyramid was built at a cautious incline to avoid the disaster of Meidum and appears rather squat in comparison to the famous pyramids of Giza, which were built by Senefru’s son, grandson and great grandson, after developments in pyramid engineering.

the collapsed Meidum Pyramid (left) and its successor, the revised-midway Bent Pyramid

the collapsed Meidum Pyramid (left) and its successor, the revised-midway Bent Pyramid

The Red Pyramid gets its name from the exposed red limestone blocks, once hidden by a white limestone façade, which was looted for other buildings long ago.

Dahshur is an hour’s drive from Cairo and is usually combined with a visit to the Bent Pyramid, a few kilometers away. Meidum is about an hour from Dahshur.

Visit www.yallatours.com/egypt/ to see tours that include a visit to Dahshur.

Take that Day Trip to Memphis

the colossal recumbent Ramesses II statue at Memphis, Egypt

the colossal recumbent Ramesses II statue at Memphis, Egypt

One of the most important cities of Ancient Egypt, Memphis was the capital of the unified country during the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods, which lasted about 1,000 years in the 3rd millennium BCE. (As a point of reference – the famous pyramids at Giza were built during the Old Kingdom.) The city was founded by Menes (or Narmer? it’s unclear, they may be one in the same), who united the country and became its first pharaoh.

Located at the head of the Nile delta in the north of the country, Memphis was a major port city and commercial and religious center and remained so, for thousands of years after the capital moved south to Thebes (Luxor today).

Alexander the Great took Egypt in 332BCE and made himself king in the great Temple of Ptah in Memphis. When he died 9 years later in Babylon, his body was brought to Memphis and later moved to Alexandria, the city he established on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. The location of his tomb is unknown today.

When Egypt became a Roman province in 30BCE, the commercial power of Memphis was eclipsed by Alexandria, which was more accessible to the rest of the empire.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century CE, the city’s status as religious center was finished and it descended into ruin.

the sphinx at Memphis, Egypt

the sphinx at Memphis, Egypt

Today, Memphis is an open-air museum with scattered remains, including numerous temples, palaces, statues and a sphinx. Memphis is about 12 miles south of Cairo and is usually visited in conjunction with Sakkara, the necropolis of Memphis and site of the Step Pyramid, less than 2 miles away. Most of our Egypt tours include a visit to Memphis.

NAME THAT COUNTRY

 

Kom el Shoqafa catacomb was carved from bedrock in the 2nd century CE and used for about 200 years. It was a time of convergence of three ancient Mediterranean cultures and the unique, hybrid style of architecture and art within the necropolis may be its most interesting feature. At the time, our mystery country was a province of the Roman Empire, but it had been a major power and distinct culture for 2,500 years.

The tradition was for families of the deceased to host a feast in the catacombs at the time of entombment and then periodically in the following years. The name of the catacombs, Kom el Shoqafa, translates to pile of shards, which refers to the large amounts of broken pottery found at the site. The pottery containing food for the funerary and memorial feasts was broken and left behind because it was considered tainted by the place of death.

Can you name that country? 
See below for answers.

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Madam King: Hatshepsut of Egypt

Temple of Hatshepsut, near Luxor, Egypt

Temple of Hatshepsut, near Luxor, Egypt

Hatshepsut was the daughter of the early New Kingdom pharaoh Thutmose I and his queen. The only surviving son of Thutmose I was by a secondary wife. In terms of dynastic succession, this was not an ideal situation. Still, a son by a secondary wife, was better than a daughter by the queen. As was the custom, Hatshepsut married this son of a secondary wife, her 1/2 brother Thutmose II, and became his queen. Together, Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had one daughter, no sons. But Thutmose II did have a son with a lesser wife, just in the nick of time. When Thutmose II died, Queen Hatshepsut became regent for her infant stepson, Thutmose III. Continue reading

NAME THAT COUNTRY

Along the banks of the longest river on earth (or the 2nd longest, depending on who you ask), life proceeds much as it has for 8,000 years, at least. Until it was dammed in the early 19th century, the annual flooding of the river left rich silt in its wake and the fertile fields fed the country and exported wheat and other grains far beyond its borders. The cultural sophistication and political and economic power of the country’s ancient civilization can be directly linked to the river. Today, the river still provides almost all of the country’s water but dams control the flow and provide hydroelectric power.

 

Can you name that country? 
See below for answers.

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Karnak the Magnificent

What Luxor, Egypt attraction is the largest place of worship ever built?

It doesn’t take a wizard to proclaim the magnificence of Karnak Temple in Luxor. After the pyramids at Giza, it’s the 2nd most visited site in Egypt. It’s really a temple complex, with multiple temples added and embellished by a long series of pharaohs over the course of 2,000 years. It was known to the ancient Egyptians as The Most Sacred Place and is reputed to be the largest place of worship ever built anywhere.

Click to see Egypt tours that include visits to Karnak Temple. Continue reading