The day started early. After an organizational meeting we were off to Saqqara, site of the Step Pyramid, the Tomb (pyramid) of Unus which had the first wall writings of any tomb yet discovered, and a lot of other tombs of some pharaohs and high officials. I do not have have pictures inside the tomb of Unus. Photography is limited so we got Missy the camera permit. After a late lunch we headed to Giza and a lecture and tour from Dr Zahi Hawass. The writings on the walls of the pyramids and other tombs are called “pyramid texts:. We tend to think of them as being in every tomb, but I learned that is not true. The first one they were found in is Unus’ which dates from 2500 b.c. These pyramid texts depict things about the tomb’s owner, everyday life, and the afterlife expectations. We also entered another tomb, that of the a high official to King Teti. The drawing here were really elaborate and were also the first tine a “false door” was found. That is a drawing that looks like a door and was for the spirit to enter thru to reunite with the body and then both would move to the afterlife. We took the extra tour, that of entering INTO the Step Pyramid! 4 foot high passage then scaffolding to get to the bottom of the burial chamber where a HUGE pink granite sarcophagus was located. The thing was something like 30 feet on a side. The pictures do not do it justice owing to the fact they are restoring/stabilizing the pyramid and have protective scaffolding over the sarcophagus. We also went venturing thru another passage way 4 foot wide and 4 foot high and without lighting, just flashlight of leader and tail. Shades of Indiana Jones! The is pyramid was the first attempt at a pyramid. It is basically the “mother” of all pyramids. No other step pyramids have been found. All pothers are the classic pyramid we think of. This is also one of the very first stone structures built and is about 4600 years old.
Dr. Zahi Hawass is one of the foremost Egyptologists. You may have seen him on National Geographic and Discovery channel specials on Egypt. He was Director of Antiquities when the Arab Spring occurred in Egypt. One of his many discoveries was the tombs and village of the pyramid builders at Giza. The Giza Plateau is home to the Sphinx and Great Pyramids. He showed us the village site and tombs of the workers and overseers and talked about finding them, and the evidence that goes against slave builders. It was really informative! Needless to say, we crashed this night!