Saturday, September 5, 2009

Valley of the Queens

Valley of the Queens


There are between 75 and 80 tombs in the Valley of the Queens, or Biban al-Harim. These belong to Queens of the 18th, 19th and 20th Dynasties. These include

The Tomb of Khaemwese (Tomb 44): Scenes in Khaemwese's tomb show him being presented to the guardians of the gates to the afterlife along with his father. He is making an offering in the scene, and is dressed in a robe, wearing a necklace and the sidelocks of youth.

The Tomb of Queent Titi (Tomb 52): She is probably the queen of a 20th Dynasty. She is depicted with the sidelocks common to the Egyptian young of the period and in the presence

of the gods Thoth, Atum, Isis and Nephthys. In the next chamber the queen is shown making offerings to Hator the cow, and in the last chamber the gods Neith, Osiris, Selquit, Nephthys and Thoth.

The Tomb of Amenhikhopeshef (Tomb 55): Amenhikhopeshef was a son of Ramses III and scenses show him with his father and the gods Thoth, Ptah and others. He was probably about nine years old when he died. Scenes show him being presented to various gods, including Anubis, the Jackal-headed god of the dead, by his father, Ramses III. A premature baby was also found in to tomb. This belonged to this mother, who aborted upon learning of Amenhikhopeshef's death.

The Tomb of Nefertari (Tomb 66): One of five wives of Ramses II, Nefertari was his favorite and the tomb here has been is said to be one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The tomb is completely painted with scenes though out. In most of these, Nefertari, known as 'the most beautiful of them', is accompanied by gods. She is usually wearing a golden crown with two feathers extended from the back of a vulture and clothed in a white, gossamer gown. Be sure not to miss the side room where one scene depicts the queen worshipping the mummified body of Osiris. Near the stairs to the burial chamber is another wonderful scene with Nefertarti offering milk to the goddess Hathor.

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

Tombs of the Pharaohs

The Egyptian belief that "To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again" is certainly carried out in the building of the tombs. The king's formal names and titles are inscribed in his tomb along with his images and statues. Beginning with the 18th Dynasty and ending with the 20th, the kings abandoned the Memphis area and built their tombs in Thebes. Also abandoned were the pyramid style tombs. Most of the tombs were cut into the limestone following a similar pattern: three corridors, an antechamber and a sunken sarcophagus chamber. These catacombs were harder to rob and were more easily concealed. Construction usually lasted six years, beginning with the new reign. The text in the tombs are from the Book of the Dead, the Book of the Gates and the Book of the Underworld.

Entry to the Valley of the Kings
Ramesses IV
Three white corridors descend to the sarcophagus chamber. The chambers ceilings depict the goddess Nut. The lid of the pink granite sarcophagus is decorated with Isis and Nephthys, which were meant to serve as guardians over the body. Their duties fell short, however, as the tomb was robbed in ancient times. Originally the priests placed the sarcophagus in Amenhotep II II's tomb in order to hide the body, which was a common practice.
Ramesses IX
Two sets of steps lead down to the tomb door that is decorated with the Pharaoh worshipping the solar disc. Isis and Nephthys stand behind him on either side. Three corridors lead into an antechamber that opens into a pillared hall. The passage beyond that leads to the sarcophagus chamber.

The steep descent into the tomb is typical of the designs of the XIX Dynasty. The entrance is decorated with Isis and Nephthys worshipping the solar disc. Text from the Book of the Gates line the corridors. The outer granite lid of the sarcophagus is located in the antechamber, while the lid of the inner sarcophagus is located down more steps in the pillared hall. Carved on the pink granite lid is the figure of Merneptah as Osiris.

Ramesses VI
Originally built for Ramesses V, three chambers and a 4th pillared chamber was added by Ramesses VI. Complete texts of the Book of the Gates, the Book of Caverns and the Book of Day and Night line the chambers. Portions of the Book of the Dead are located in the pillared chamber, along with scenes of the skygoddess, Nut

The Burial Chamber in the Tomb of Ramesses VI
Ramesses III
The tomb is sometimes referred to as the "Harpers Tomb" due to the two harpers playing to the gods in four of the chambers. Ten small chambers branch off of the main corridors. These were for the placement of tomb furniture

Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu
Seti I
The longest tomb in the valley, 100m, contains very well preserved reliefs in al
l of its eleven chambers and side rooms.
One of the back chambers is decorated
with the Ritual of the Opening of the Mouth, which stated that the mummy's eating and drinking organs were properly functioning. Believing in the need for these functions in
the afterlife, this was a very important ritual. The sarcophagus is now in the Sir John
Soane Museum, London.

Tuthmosis III
The approach to this unusual tomb is an ascent up wooden steps, crossing over a pit, and then a steep descent down into the tomb. The pit was probably dug as a deterrent to tomb robbers. Two small chambers, decorated with stars, and a larger vestibule are in front of the sarcophagus chamber, which is uniquely rounded and decorated with only red and black.

Amenhotep II
A steep flight of stairs and a long unadorned corridor lead to the sarcophagus chamber. Three mummies, Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep II III and Seti II, were found in one side room and nine mummies were found in another.

This tomb's construction is identical to that of Seti I's with the exception of some of the inner decorations.

Though small and unimpressive, Tutankhamun's Tomb is probably the most famous, due to its late discovery. Howard Carter's description upon opening the tomb in 1922 was, "At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flames to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold - everywhere the glint of gold. For the moment - an eternity it must have seemed to the others standing by - I was dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 'Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, "Yes, wonderful things."' The royal seal on the door was found intact. The first three chambers were unadorned, with evidence of early entrance through one of the outside walls. The next chamber contained most of the funerary objects. The sarcophagus was four guilded wooden shrines, one inside the other, within which lay the stone sarcophagus, three mummiform coffins, the inner one being solid gold, and then the mummy. Haste can be seen in the reliefs and the sarcophagus, due to the fact that Tutankhamun died at only 19 years of age following a brief reign. Though extremely impressive to the modern world, the treasures of Tutankhamun must have paled when compared to the tombs of the great Pharaohs that ruled for many years during Egypt's golden age.

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun

The Unfinished Obelisk

The Unfinished Obelisk

Much of the red granite used for ancient temples and colossi came from quarries in the Aswan area. Around these quarries are many inscriptions, many of which describe successful quarrying projects. The Unfinished Obelisk located in the Northern Quarry still lies where a crack was discovered as it was being hewn from the rock. Possibly intended as a companion to the Lateran Obelisk, originally at Karnak but now in Rome, it would have weighed over 2.3 million pounds and would have been the worlds largest piece of stone ever handled. However, a crack in the stone occurred, which caused it to be abandoned. Tools left by it's builders have given us much insight into how such work was performed. The site has recently been renovated and equipped with tourist facilities. Nearby is the Fatimid Cemetery

The Citadel

The Citadel

One of Cairo's most popular tourist attractions is The Citadel, located on a spur of limestone that had been detached from its parent Moqattam Hills by quarrying.The Citadel began it's life not as a great military base of operations, but as the "Dome of the Wind", a pavilion created in 810 by Hatim Ibn Hartama, who was then governor. These early governors, not realizing it strategic importance, simply used the pavilion for its view of Cairo. In 1176, Salah ad-Din fortified the area to protect it against attacks by the Crusaders, and since then, it has never been without a military garrison.

In 1218 Sultan al-Kamil, Salah ad-Din's nephew moved his residence to TheCitadel, and until the consturction of the Abdin Palace in the mid-19th century, it was the seat of government for the Country of Egypt.

Most of the fortification's enterior were built after Salah ad-Din's rule, being added to by almost every invader including the British, some of whom destroyed much of what existed before them. Al Nasir Muhammad leveled most of Salah al-Din's buildings and later Muhamad Ali did the same to the Mamluk structures.

The Citadel actually consists of three main sections, surrounded by their own walls with towers and gates. These consist of the Lower Enclosure (El-Azab), the Northern Enclosure (El-Ankishariya) and the Southern Enclosure which is TheCitadel proper (El-Qal'a). The two main gates are on the north (Bab el-Gadid) and south (Bab el-Gabal). Particularly when viewed from the back side (from the north), The Citadel reveals a very medieval character

The Egyptian museum

The Egyptian museum

Location : Cairo, Egypt

Description : The Egyptian museum was first built in Boulak. In 1891, it was moved to Giza Palace of "Ismail Pasha" which housed the antiquities that were later moved to the present building. The Egyptian museum is situated at Tahrir square inCairo. It was built during the reign of Khedive Abbass Helmi II in 1897, and opened on November 15, 1902. It has 107 halls. At the ground floor there are the huge statues. The upper floor houses small statues, jewels, Tutankhamon treasures and the mummies.

The Museum also comprises a photography section and a large library. TheEgyptian museum comprises many sections arranged in chronological order

  1. The first section houses Tutankhamon’s treasures.
  2. The second section houses the pre-dynasty and the Old Kingdom monuments.
  3. The third section houses the first intermediate period and the Middle Kingdom monuments.
  4. The forth section houses the monuments of the Modern Kingdom.
  5. The fifth section houses the monuments of the late period and the Greek and Roman periods.
  6. The sixth section houses coins and papyrus.
  7. The seventh section houses sarcophagi and scrabs.

A hall for the royal mummies was opened at the museum, housing eleven kings and queens.

More than a million and half tourists visit the museum annually, in addition to half a million Egyptians

The Great Pyramids

The Great Pyramids

How the Great Pyramid was built is a question that may never be answered. Herodotus said that it would have taken 30 years and 100,000 slaves to have built it. Another theory is that it was built by peasants who were unable to work the land while the Nile flooded between July and November. They may have been paid with food for their labor. The flooded waters would have also aided in the moving of the casing stones. These stones were brought from Aswan and Tura and the water would have brought the stones right to the pyramid. This pyramid is thought to have been built between 2589 - 2566 BC. It would have taken over 2,300,000 blocks of stone with an average weight of 2.5 tons each. The total weight would have been 6,000,000 tons and a height of 482 feet (140m). It is the largest and the oldest of the Pyramids of Giza

Chephren is the son and successor of Khufu and Hensuten. Khufu's other son and also successor, Ra'djedef, started constructing his own pyramid at Abu Rawash, which is north of Giza. Chephren's pyramid is designed more modestly than Khufu's. The Chephren pyramid originally was 10 feet (3m) shorter and 48 feet (14.6m) more narrow at the base. The estimated weight of all the stones in the pyramid is 4,880,000 tons. Because it is built higher on the plateau, it looks taller from most angles than Khufu's pyramid. The slope of the angles is higher, 53 degrees compared to Khufu's 51 degrees.

The Pyramid of Menkaure' (Mycerinus) is the smallest of the three Pyramids of Giza and shows the beginning of the decline in workmanship in the Egyptian pyramid building. The attention to detail is not as it is on the earlier pyramid.

Nefertari's Temple of Hathor (Abu Simbel - Small Temple)

Nefertari's Temple of Hathor (Abu Simbel - Small Temple)

Hathor was the wife of the Sun God so in a symbolic way, the two Temples, that of Ramesses II and that of Nefertari, brings Ramesses II and Nefertari and Hathor and the Sun God together as one. The facade of the temple is a receding Pylon, just as the larger temple of Ramesses II. On either side of the entrance to the temple are a deified statue of Nefertari with statues of Ramesses II on either side of her. The statues of Nefertari are the same height as those of Ramesses, which is unusual. Like at Ramesses II's temple, there are children depicted around their feet. There are cobras protecting the Temple door.

This temple is much simpler than the Temple of Re-Herakhte. It has only one hypostyle hall and the sanctuary. Within the hall are images of Ramesses in battle with Nefertari present. Other scenes depict Ramesses being crowned by Horus and Seith and presenting Ma'at to Amun. On the back wall, Nefertari is before Hathor and Mut. Just behind the Hypostyle Hall is a small chamber with images of Hathor cow framed in reeds. Beyond that is the sanctuary with a divine cow emerging from the rear rock wall protecting Ramesses, below her. Above the cow, vultures guard the Queens cartouches. Other scenes show Nefertari offering incense to Mut and Hathor, and the King worshipping before his own image and that of Nefertari