Memphis and Saqqarah

Friday 23 January 2009 – Memphis and Saqqarah

I’ve been struck in Egypt by the care that most people – especially the men, and in particular the young men, take with their appearance. Despite the dirt and dust they are generally well turned out and clean and well-groomed. The number of clothing and footwear shops in Cairo is testament to this passion.

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Shoes shoes shoes on Talaat Harb
Shoes shoes shoes on Talaat Harb

We started the day’s sites and scenes at the very tawdry museum at the site of Memphis, one-time capital of ancient Egypt and once the biggest city in the world. Now a bog surrounded by agricultural villages with a wee museum containing assorted artefacts, mostly bits and pieces of statuary, poorly displayed and undusted. The major items of interest are a fallen colossus of Rameses II housed in a dank pavilion and an alabaster sphinx in the garden.

After a short stay here we headed for Saqqarah, home to several pyramids, most famously Djoser’s ‘step-pyramid’, but also several tombs with some quite lovely reliefs.

We unexpectedly found ourselves in the so-called ‘tomb of the two brothers’. According to Chris, the reliefs in here showing two men in a very intimate embrace, has been used by some to argue for the acceptance of homosexuality by the ancient Egyptians. Naturally this has been hotly disputed by others, and is not mentioned in any literature promulgated by the government.

Tomb of the two brothers, Saqqarah
Tomb of the two brothers, Saqqarah

Took a night off from dinner with the group and did my own thing around downtown Cairo. Dinner at Gad on my own sounded like a better option than the group meal, according to reports. More inconsistency and silliness surrounding orders. My own watch’s battery having expired, I bought a cheap watch branded ‘Emporio Amaranth’ at a local street market.

Egyptian mountie and his steed, Saqqarah
Egyptian mountie and his steed, Saqqarah
Sign at Saqqarah - even if they did offer information, it would be useless... but somehow they still expect 'baksheesh' just for being there!
Sign at Saqqarah – even if they did offer information, it would be useless… but somehow they still expect ‘baksheesh’ just for being there!
Tomb guardians plotting ways to exact maximum baksheesh
Tomb guardians plotting ways to exact maximum baksheesh
Ever vigilant, always prepared...
Ever vigilant, always prepared…

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