Saturday, December 13, 2008

Egypt 2008: Giza: the Sphinx

October 11th.

So, we got back in the car and drove back down, but by a different route. We had one thing left to see - the Sphinx. OK, to be exact, the Great Sphinx of Giza. Read the Wiki entry to learn a little more about the history of this amazing statue, the debate about its age etc ... I just don't know enough about it to say anything, really. Google is your friend. :-) CH is going to lend me a book about this, so maybe I'll learn a little more eventually. :-) All I can say is that it did seem disproportionate to me - its head looked too small relative to the size of its body. Having seen it, the theory that its face was recarved into its current appearance at some point after its construction seems quite likely to me. The proportions did look off. Whether the face resembles other portraits of king Khefren or not, I really have no idea. :-)

Received wisdom has been wrong before, but I really know way too little about this. Must read books ...

Also, about what 'people' say about how everyone is so surprised by how small the Sphinx is - I actually wasn't surprised by how small it was, because before I saw it, I'd had SO many people tell me how surprisingly small it is. ;-)

Approaching. It was just so cool to be there. As I've mentioned, I know. :-) Something I haven't mentioned, though, is that thing on the peak of Khefren's pyramid. You may have noticed it in my previous posts. :-) It's all that's left of a smooth layer of stone that used to cover the entire pyramid. All three of them, in fact, but only Khefren has any of this left now. So they looked very different way back when. Extremely different, in fact ... since this smooth stone was heavily decorated with gold and silver and precious stones. This won't sound very nice, but really: it must have looked so fucking tacky.

There were quite a few tourists there ... as well as police and souvenir sellers. (Who were selling mostly really tacky souvenirs, if truth be told.) Here's the wall that I showed pictures of before, when it was being used as a screen during the sound and light show. You have to go through this to get to the Sphinx ...

... but of course you can see it from much further away, it towers over the wall. Partly because it's much taller :-) but also because the ground slopes upwards towards the plateau where the Khefren pyramid stands.

The Mykerinos pyramid to the left. It really is so much smaller. He must have been a very modest fellow. ;-)

A closer look. I love seeing the details of the pyramid. You can practically count the stones. :-)

Me in front of the Sphinx, as close as you can get. They don't let people actually approach it, or walk on the area adjacent to it. You can just look at it from a kind of wall that runs alongside. I guess they can't risk having people climbing on it and so on. There is a small temple between its front legs, but there's no entry to this. For regular tourists, anyway - I'm guessing they may let VIPs in occasionally. :-)

A closeup ... not entirely in profile, but I had to take it just then, because there was something special ... something that was just perfect for scale. Can you see it? :-)

Here's something pretty damn amazing. Actually you've got to call it almost unbelievable. A marvel of engineering. This was built what, 4500 years ago. Amazing is the word. Can you spot what I'm talking about?

The entire front of the Sphinx. Can you see what I mean by disproportionate? I mean, look at those legs, and then the size of the head ... it just looks off. To my eyes, anyway.

Some pretty hefty blocks of stone they've used here ... and very well preserved indeed. They have been buried under sand for many centuries, of course. CH included for scale. :-)

As I've mentioned, there are cops around all of these places. The Tourism and Antiquities Police. :-) They're mostly on foot, but sometimes I guess the areas are just too big to patrol effectively that way ... so here you have the Egyptian mounted police. :-D A Kodak moment if I ever saw one ... !! :-D

Here's the seating area where we sat the night before watching the sound and light show. The place looked pretty different by daylight.

I've just got to boast about my new camera a little. When we arrived in Egypt, I'd only had it for a couple of weeks, so I was still experimenting with it and learning about it. Of course the zoom was something that really interested me. Here's my first real test of it. See the ridge on the other side of the road there? See the little speck that is actually a man? Something else came along there a little later and I decided to check out the zoom a little. Scroll down ...

Zoomed in to the max. :-o Pretty good, don't you think? These people are actually standing right there on that same ridge. I'm still in roughly the same spot. This is a great picture in its own right, IMO, but not least it shows that the zoom is pretty damn good on this little thingummy. :-)

We joked that maybe we should book rooms at this place for our next stay. Hmm, tempting ...

Here's the best picture I took of the Sphinx ... maybe the best picture I took all day. Almost postcard-worthy ... IMHO. :-)

To see more pictures of the Sphinx, go here.


Paz said...

again lovely photo's thanks for sharing them

Leisha Camden said...

You're welcome. :-)

As I think I've said before, this is as much for my own sake as for anyone else's. My memory isn't the best ;-) and I need to do something like this to help myself remember ... otherwise the details will become uncomfortably fuzzy over time. :-) If anyone else is interested too, that's just a great bonus. :-)

Glad you're enjoying it!

Paz said...

makes me want to change holiday plans next year and go tho' don't think I would be wearing Jeans in the desert you must have been roasted alive

Leisha Camden said...

You should go!! It was so amazing to see all these things, I think everyone should get the chance to experience them. I recommend it. And if you'll notice, those are capri pants, so not as warm as actual jeans. And it actually wasn't that hot either ... not in Cairo, anyway. :-)

Paz said...

I dont think I will carry off the capri pants !!!

Leisha Camden said...

No, you should probably find something else to wear. o_O