Saturday, November 15, 2008

Egypt 2008: Memphis

October 11th.

After leaving Sakkara we immediately drove towards our next destination, the museum at Memphis. Memphis is now on the outskirts of Cairo, but was originally founded (around 3100 BC) as a city in its own right, to be the capital of the first district of Lower Egypt. It later became the capital of the Old Kingdom, and was also the capital city during periods of the New Kingdom. It was always an important administrative center for ancient Egypt. There are important temple ruins in Memphis but we didn’t have time to see these.

The general area that we drove through was quite shabby, with semi-rundown houses and a lot of trash everywhere. This was a general problem in Cairo, though. Of every city and town that we visited, the capital was the one with the biggest litter problem. Not ideal ... but then again, everywhere else we went to was vastly smaller too. So it is perhaps understandable. But still not very charming.

Driving to Memphis.

A colorful doorway, I don’t know what kind of place it led to, but it was right next to the entrance to the museum area. I liked it, had to take a picture. :-)

Hatem explaining the mythology surrounding life and death in ancient Egypt.

There are a number of stone artifacts on display ...

... but unfortunately, our time here was quite limited ...

... so we didn’t have time to look very closely at a lot of them.

These guys are everywhere in their white uniforms: the Tourism and Antiquities Police. :-) Their job has a double focus – to protect the heritage sites and to protect the tourists. The latter are essential to the Egyptian economy and it is of course the former that they – we – primarily come to see.

The most important item to see in Memphis is the limestone statue of king Ramses II.

It is enormous ... ! Even with its legs missing it measures over 12 meters ...

... and although it has suffered some serious damage, the non-damaged sections are very well preserved.

King Ramses ruled Egypt for over 60 years, ca 1279-1213 BC. The statue was carved for the great temple of the god Ptah which once stood in Memphis. There were two identical ones, but the other one is entirely lost.

Me at the king’s right hand. :-)

There are various other pieces on display in the same building ...

... but although they are interesting, they weren’t very impressive next to the likeness of the greatest of all pharaohs.

Second on the list of things to see in Memphis: the Alabaster Sphinx.

CH seated by the Sphinx, for scale. It weighs 70 tons. :-o Its exact provenance is unclear, but it was carved in the 18th dynasty (sometime between 1700 and 1400 BC), in honor of a pharaoh (unsurprisingly). But whether this was Amenhotep I, II or III, Tutmosis I or even queen Hatshepsut cannot be determined, since there is no inscription on the statue.

Lots to see, and less time to see it in ...

To see more pictures from Memphis, go here.

3 comments:

Paz said...

Thanks for sharing these Madam, the info is good too, won't pressure you again :)(maybe I might, but not for a while)

Jænners said...

Gotta move to Memphis, that's what I'll do.... To quote A-ha.

Thanks for interesting Egypt posts!!

Leisha Camden said...

You're welcome - this to me is like scrapbooking about my vacation, it's just great that someone else is interested in it too. :-)

And while I do have soo much Egypt stuff to post about, I would get too bored - and you probably would too - if I didn't post about other things as well. Feel free to remind me though if you think I meander among other topics for too long ... :-)

Anéa, great to see you here - how's Rome?? I can't wait till you get back home and invite me over for a special, ahem, lecture (with many many pictures of course) on the sights and sounds (and tastes?? ;-) of Rome ... ;-)