Sitting modestly before the vast Saqqara Necropolis is the Imhotep Museum, housing archaeological artifacts pertaining to the history of Ancient Egypt. Opened in 2006, it was named after the royal architect Imhotep, who was credited for building the first monumental structure out of stone, being the stepped Pyramid of Djoser.
The Saqqara Necropolis is a vast, ancient burial ground with many pyramids and mastabas within its boundaries. Mastabas were rectangular, flat-roofed tombs, made out of mudbricks. They were used by eminent Egyptians, such as Mereruka in the Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. Mereruka was a vizier, a high ranking and powerful official, and son-in-law to King Teti, the 1st pharaoh of the sixth dynasty. The Mastaba of Mereruka is the largest of all non-
royal tombs in Saqqara. Elaborately decorated with vibrant reliefs and a lifelike statue, the tomb was hidden from view until archaeologist Jacques de Morgan discovered and excavated it in 1892. The mastaba is also the burial ground for his wife (daughter of King Teti) and their son. The mastaba has a complex floorplan consisting of 33 chambers of which 21 are dedicated to Mereruka himself and the rest to his wife and son.
Beside Mereruka's mastaba is the Pyramid of Teti. Once a smooth-sided pyramid, it now resembles more of a hill, largely due to poor preservation. However, the interior chambers and corridors are very well preserved. It is unknown how long Teti reigned but it is estimated at 12 years. Teti had several wives and up to 13 children (3 sons and 10 daughters). It is thought that he was murdered by his bodyguards in order to make way for Userkare's reign. It is debated whether Userkare was possibly a son of Teti and whether he was a legitimate heir. Regardless of circumstances, his reign was short-lived, less than 5 years, when he was succeeded by Teti's son Pepi I.
Teti's predecessor was Unas, the last pharaoh of the 5th dynasty. His smooth- sided pyramid built in the 24th century BC was the smallest of the Old Kingdom. What made it significant though was the discovery of Pyramid Texts which were funerary texts carved into walls of burial chambers to help a pharaoh's spirit to be preserved in the afterlife. Unas' pyramid was the first inscription of such texts and at that time was reserved for pharaohs only. The Pyramid Texts were the predecessors to Coffin Texts when the spells were written on coffins and the Book of the Dead which were spells written on papyrus.
Egyptologists weren't able to agree on Unas' reign so it is guesstimated at between 15-30 years. It seems that Unas died without a male heir, as his only son predeceased him. As such it brought the end of the 5th Dynasty.
Diagonally across from the Pyramid of Unas is the Pyramid of Userkaf, the founder of the 5th Dynasty. He reigned for about seven years in the early 25th century BC. He had one daughter and one son, Sahure, who succeeded him. Little is known about his activities other than ascending the worship of Ra, deity of the sun. Ra was believed to rule the sky, the earth and the underworld. He was the god of the sun, order, kings and the sky. Pharaohs were closely aligned to Ra, referring to themselves as "Sons of Ra". Pyramids, obelisks and sun temples were specially aligned to honour Ra.
Userkaf's pyramid was very roughly put together. The core was built with small, roughly-hewn limestone blocks which likely saved a lot on labour but also produced an inferior quality pyramid. However, the outer layer was of fine limestone giving it a grand impression. Sadly as stone robbers removed the outer limestone, the loosely built core was exposed and crumbled leaving a pile of rubble in the shape of a hill. It was customary for pharaohs to build burials for their wives nearby and Userkaf had built a smaller pyramid to the southwest corner of his own using the same construction material and style. Unsurprisingly, the Queen's pyramid is in rubbles too and her pyramid was stripped to such an extent that her burial chamber became exposed to the elements.
And this brings me to the final pyramid. Between the smaller pyramids of Unas and Userkaf stands the Pyramid of Djoser. It is a stepped pyramid built by the royal architect Imhotep and the oldest stone structure of its size in the world. Built in the 27th century BC, this six-tier, four-sided structure dominates the Saqqara landscape. The pyramid once covered in polished white limestone was originally 205ft (62.5m) tall with a base of 358x397ft (109x121m). Beneath the pyramid is a 6km labyrinth of tunnelled chambers and galleries that meets with a central shaft, providing the king with space for his and his family's burials and the storage of goods and offerings. Once completed it stood out from the large mastabas that were constructed out of mudbricks.
Djoser's pyramid is the only stepped-pyramid that was fully completed and continues to exist. A pyramid typically requires 20 years to complete. Djoser, one of the principal leaders of the 3rd Dynasty, ruled for between 19-28 years, as such he saw the completion of his pyramid. Djoser's successor Sekhemkhet planned to outdo the building of his own pyramid by making it taller with a bigger base but unfortunately he died within 9 years of his reign and the pyramid remained unfinished. After Sekhemkhet's there was one more stepped-pyramid just south of Giza but it is not confirmed whether it was finished or if it just eroded over time as it is a ruined structure now.
The Saqqara Necropolis has many more minor pyramids, mastabas and funerary complexes that are known of but there's nothing more exciting than when new discoveries are made. A recent discovery (late 2020) of 100 intact wooden coffins, brightly covered with hieroglyphs and well-preserved mummies inside has been found in the Saqqara.
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I was still able to enjoy a touch of Egypt without the heat and sand, since COVID cancelled my scheduled Journey.
Step into history at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia where an ancient civilisation developed and thrived on the banks of the Nile River. Filled with myths and legends, pharaohs and gods, formidable pyramids, mummies and hieroglyphs, this 5,000 year old civilisation is the kingdom of the ancient Egyptians.
The Kingdom of Egypt began around 3,100BC, known as the Early Dynastic Period, with the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. Governed by a royal family the first Pharaoh was Narmer, also referred to as Nemes. Narmer was also the first dynasty (ruling family) out of 30 that followed.
Modern historians have further divided the dynasties into various
Periods/Kingdoms. The three main Kingdoms, considered as the height of civilization (the golden ages) are known as: Old Kingdom (the Age of the Pyramids); Middle Kingdom (reunification of Egypt); and New Kingdom (the peak of power). As each Kingdom collapsed a period of civil unrest, conquests, political strife and instability ensued known as the Intermediate Periods. Each Intermediary Period ended when ruling houses reclaimed their power leading Egypt into a new age of prosperity. By 525BC the great civilisation came to an end and Egypt became part of the Persian Empire. Rule passed to the Greeks in 332BC following Alexander the Great's conquest and by 30BC after the death of Cleopatra, the last reigning pharaoh, it became a province of the Roman Empire.
The ancient cities of Memphis and Thebes were once, at different times, the capital cities of Egypt. Memphis was created by Pharaoh Narmer and served as the capital city during the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom eras. Following reunification during the Middle Kingdom, the capital city was moved to Thebes where it continued to serve as the capital during the New Kingdom era. Only remnants remain today.
The current capital city of Egypt is Cairo and has a population of 20 million people making it the largest city in Africa and the sixth-largest in the world. Within the city is "Historic Cairo" an area that existed before the city's modern expansion. Declared a UNESCO site in 1979, Historic Cairo has a large collection of historic architecture including the Citadel where this journey begins.
Cairo was founded in the 10th century following the Fatimid Caliphate conquest. The Fatimid's were a dynasty that occupied much of North Africa from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Of Arab origin and ruling territories across the Mediterranean coast of Africa, the Fatimid's made Egypt the centre of their caliphate.
The Fatimid's were subsequently conquered by Saladin in the 12th century who was the first Sultan of Egypt. Saladin was a Sunni Kurd and the founder of the Ayyubid Dynasty, a Kurdish Sunni Muslim dynasty. He was a major force during the Crusaders of Jerusalem's attempts to capture Egypt. Together with his uncle, the General at the time, Saladin seized Cairo and pushed the Crusaders out. Assuming control after his uncle's death, Saladin began a major campaign against the Crusaders which resulted in the launching the Third Crusade by the powerful states of western Christianity. Led by Richard the Lionheart (King of
England), King Phillip of France and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (Holy Roman Emperor) the Battle of Arsuf against Saladin resulted in a truce followed by a peace treaty that lasted three years. Part of the treaty was safe passage to all Christian and Muslim unarmed pilgrims. Neither Saladin nor Richard were satisfied with the outcome. Both Richard and Saladin respected each other's capabilities as leaders and were known to send each other gifts after the treaty. Saladin was widely regarded as a chivalrous warrior who besides being a shrewd and ruthless leader, he was also looked upon as a "kindly father figure who cared for the poor and sick".
Saladin was primarily responsible for commencing the construction of the Citadel of Cairo in early 12th century which was built upon, altered and adapted across the centuries to suit the rulers needs and regimes of the time. It served as the residence of rulers and seat of Government until the 19th century. The complex was initially divided into two enclosures; one used for military garrisons and the other as the sultan's residence. By the 19th century many of the buildings within the citadel were torn down to make way for an Ottoman- style mosque with two minarets, four small domes and four semi-circular domes around a main dome. It was commissioned by Muhammad Ali, the de facto ruler of Egypt at the time, in memory of his eldest son and constructed in the style that paid homage to his former overlords, the Ottomans.
Across from Muhammad Ali's mosque is a 14th century mosque built by the then ruler, Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad. With a rather austere appearance when compared to its neighbour, the mosque is a rectangular building constructed around an inner court with two minarets and a single dome. The minarets with their bulbous shapes are made entirely out of carved stone and extensively decorated with glazed mosaics.
During the 20th century the citadel was first occupied by the British army, followed by the Egyptian military until the government opened it to the public converting buildings into museums. Today the citadel consists of several mosques (the two main ones and two smaller ones), a military museum, carriage museum, police museum and a palace containing a 1000kg chandelier gifted by Louis-Philippe I of France.
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With that in mind it surprises me how many people choose here to visit for long vacations. I found the majority of residents we interacted with unfriendly and not wanting to bother with tourists. Coming from a touristy town I do understand the frustration, but we are still friendly.
We still enjoyed our time, the first day at a resort being pampered on the beach. If you never left this little bit of paradise you're golden.
Luckily we have great resorts to choose from with expertly trained staff to attend your every need.
The following day we visited La Romana this area exists because of shell oil and Paramount Pictures. Several movies have been filmed here along the river , Rambo , Predator , Anaconda and more.
Also overlooking the Charon River is the Village of Altos de Chavon with many cobblestone pathways leading to the Archeological Museum, and The Famous School of Design. The Church of St. Stanislaus Consecrated in 1979 Pope John Paul II sent the ashes of Poland’s patron saint, St. Stanislaus , and a hand carved statue to commemorate the church’s inauguration .
Many famous movie stars have been married here as well as held there receptions in the courtyard.
The Amphitheater, inaugurated in 1982 by Frank Sinatra has since hosted dozens of famous performers such as Sting, Elton John, Marc Anthony , Andrea Bocelli, Julio Iglesias and many more. Today this theatre is still a very important part December 30th, 2016 Enrique Iglesias performs.
The majority of property in this region is owned by Casa DE Campo.
Many people have never traveled. If that is you, "Why travel?" you asked. To quote my tagline...
"It's all about the journey". Start small, and venture out of your comfort zone. Take a road trip to a nearby attraction and along the way take in your surroundings. What makes the location different? Is the Architecture unique? Are the houses the same? Do people have a different accent? What makes the area special? What makes it similar to home?
Often, leaving makes you appreciate your what you have. Sometimes, however you will get the travel bug. It starts out small. Before I started as a travel advisor, I had never left the country. I had travelled all over the U. S. and Canada. Flying is not my favorite thing. That no longer holds me back since I got the cruising bug. I will fly anywhere, anytime to get to a ship. If you follow any news stories you will see there is no lack of entertainment on flights. I am not referring to the movie or snacks. That is exactly what I mean about the journey.
I cannot begin to explain, but on many days when I'm learning about a new destination the combination of butterflies in my stomach and a restless leg and mind syndrome I encounter.
I want to leap out of my chair and go, go, go.
There is a big world out there and truly understanding it takes work. We are all different and we are all the same. Embrace the posibilities , your life will be richer for it.
Here are some random pics from across the country.