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Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Pyramid at Meidum

Today was a long day that began in Cairo and took us first to the site of Meidum, south of Sakkara and Dahshur. The pyramid of Meidum may have been the first attempt at a straight sided monument and was completed by Snefru, father of Khufu and the first king of the Fourth Dynasty. It is a lovely site to visit because it is infrequently visited by tourists, and often one can have a slow and solitary visit inside the corbel vaulted burial chamber – the first above ground one in a pyramid.

Pyramid at Meidum

Inside the pyramid

Betsy led the way down the descending corridor that then twisted up a straircase to the vaulted chamber. Nearly everyone made this trek, and in the group you see Eden (because she is tall), Megan, and Ashlyn on the left, with Sarah and Shaina in front of them. The last picture here shows Laura on a ladder allowing us to view the shape of the room and its stepped in walls that form the stable vaulted ceiling.

Inside the pyramid Inside the pyramid











Sarah inside the mastaba

Walking to the mastaba

We walked over to the stone and mudbrick mastaba (bench-shaped) tomb placed next to the pyramid. A group of us entered the burial chamber here through a slightly small opening. You see Sarah emerging into the inner corridor, followed by Ahmed, our tour representative.

Ahmed in the mastaba


 

In the burial chamber
Sarah investigates the sarcophagus
Standing in the beautifully cut limestone burial chamber, dating around 2650 BCE, Sarah and Laura focus on the huge granite sarcophagus behind them. Naturally they decide to try it out for size, so Sarah pokes up from the interior of the sarcophagus. Everyone felt particularly accomplished by their visit to this space, so you see Margaret, Sarah, Laura, and Mark smiling widely and celebrating.

Margaret, Sarah, Laura and Mark


 

Pyramid at Lahun

From Meidum we took the road westward toward the large oasis of Fayum whose name is a direct heir of one of the ancient designations for the lake – “pa-yom”, the sea. Kings of ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom built monuments in this area after carrying out work to clear out the Bahr Jusuf canal that feeds the Lake of Moeris. Senwosret II of the Twelfth Dynasty was buried at the entranceway into the great oasis, and his pyramid of brick, once capped with limestone, dominates the site of Lahun. Lahun preserves the ancient name of Ro-Henet, the door of the waterway, and the pyramid once bore a strong similarity in its overall complex to the Old Kingdom pyramids of the Fifth Dynasty. The tombs of the king’s family surround the pyramid, and treasures belonging to his daughters were found here. After we walked around the pyramid and the highly water damaged tombs, we visited the nearby townsite.


Examining pottery sherds
Discussing pottery sherds

Little can be seen of the ancient town of Kahun where the priests of the mortuary cult of Senwosret II resided, along with scribes and other working personnel. Yet the vast mounds of broken pottery attest to the domestic nature of this environment, as well as its significance as a temple-related location. Betsy picks up a few sherds to show Sarah, Mark, and the others a little about different types of vessel forms and what they can reveal about their functions and the environments in which they were used.


Pyramid of Hawara

We passed by the pyramid of Hawara, slightly to the west and north of Lahun, but do the lateness of the hour we did not tour here. Amenemhet III of the later Twelfth Dynasty built this monument, whose unusual temple on the south side of the pyramid was called the “Labyrinth” by Herodotus in his book about Egypt.


Lunch at Lake Moeris
Lunch at Lake Moeris

We headed to Lake Moeris itself where we enjoyed a wonderful outdoor meal by the water (although a little cool). First you see Laney, Meredith, Ashley, Shaina, and Cassandra, and in the second picture, Alex, Harvey and a just a bit of Sarah.


Boat on Lake Moeris

The lake itself formed a wonderful view for our late luncheon, and Laura, Ashlyn, and Sarah posed for Will after eating. Then we crawled back on the bus for the trip back to Cairo. A wonderful day indeed.

Laura, Ashlyn and Sarah

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