Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 2: The Pyramids of Giza

The Pyramids of Giza are iconic and for good reason. These structures have stood in the desert sands for thousands of years. The pyramids once had smooth surfaces but the years haven't always been kind to the structures. We visited the largest and oldest pyramid, The Pyramid of Khufu which was completed around 2560 BC. Can you even wrap your brain around that? Consider that many of our buildings in structures in the United States are awfully new, some date back to the 1600's and 1700's. But four hundred years in comparison to millenia--not much of a comparison. Even in Lund, Sweden, where I lived for several years, has buildings that are quite old, but none can even compare to the age of the pyramids.

We didn't go inside the pyramid because of time constraints, but according to Wikipedia, the pyramid contains three chambers. The pyramid of was constructed of approximately 2.3 million sandstone blocks. Then casing stones were placed on the outside of the pyramid to provide a smooth face. The casing blocks are no longer there, but the structure is still incredible. At its completion it was 481 feet tall and remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for almost 4000 years. It has lost a few feet and now stands 455.5 feet tall.

The pyramid is believed to have been built by the Pharaoh Khufu who was the second pharaoh of the 4th dynasty. Very little is known about this pharaoh. The only complete likeness of the king in known existence today is a 3-inch high ivory statue that is displayed in the Egyptian museum.

We climbed up on the pyramid, had pictures taken and enjoyed the view of Cairo from the pyramid. Dozens of vendors aggressively hawked their souvenirs to us. The only way you could get through the crowd unscathed was to totally ignore them and pretend they didn't exist.

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