ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “sarcophagus

PYRAMID EXPERIMENT & THE COLOSSUS, Dahshur & Memphis, Egypt

2006.05.28.

While Pharaoh Khufu stole the limelight for 4,500 years as the king who built the Great Pyramid of Giza, much few people may acknowledge that Khufu’s success was built upon the earlier experiments of his father, Pharaoh Sneferu. At 40km south of Cairo, Dahshur was the experimental ground for Sneferu, who famously built the three predecessors that ultimately led to the success of his son’s Great Pyramid. The three Sneferu’s pyramids in Dahshur reveal the evolution of pyramid construction, from Meidum Pyramid: Egypt’s first smooth-sided pyramid that had partially collapsed since the ancient times, to Bent Pyramid: another smooth-sided pyramid whose change of inclining angle midway had led to a bent effect, and finally to Red Pyramid: Egypt’s first successfully constructed smooth-sided pyramid.

After Saqqara, we intended to go to Abusir, another necropolis of Memphis just like Saqqara. However, we were told that Abusir was not open for some reason, so we turned to Dahshur instead. Dahshur was another well-known necropolis that served the royal members of Memphis in the Old Kingdom. Famous for its three unique pyramids, Dahshur is a must-see site if one is interested in Egyptian pyramids. Our taxi drove us to pass by the Bent and Black Pyramid, and then stopped at the biggest of them all, the Red Pyramid. There were not many tourists around, so we decided to pay the admission to enter the Red Pyramid. Named after the slightly reddish limestone, the Red Pyramid is Egypt’s third largest and also the oldest smooth sided pyramid.

The sloped passage down to the burial chamber at the pyramid’s heart was narrow and dimly lit. With an slope of 27 degrees down, a 1.2m width and 0.91m height, the journey down the 61m passage was no small feat. For the entire way we were forced to hunch down with our backs touching the passage ceiling, and move down carefully one step at a time. We heaved a sigh of relief after reaching the end of the tunnel, but was a little disappointed to find the empty chamber at the end. As expected no artifacts were in display in the chamber. The 15m corbel vaulted ceiling was quite impressive, given the fact that we were almost 100m below the top of the pyramid, under millions of tons of limestone.

Our next stop was Mit Rahina Museum or what commonly known as the Memphis Open Air Museum. Memphis, the ancient Egyptian capital in the Old Kingdom, was once a prosperous trading, manufacturing and religious centre in the region of Nile Delta. For many centuries, the ruins of the abandoned Egyptian capital had been pillaged for constructing other structures in the nearby Arab cities. Not much of the great city survived to the present day, except the artifacts in the open air museum and what might still lie underground. The biggest draw of the museum is an enormous limestone statue of Ramses II lying in the establishment’s feature gallery.

We were excited to have the opportunity to enter the Red Pyramid in Dahshur. The Red Pyramid was the third pyramid built by Pharaoh Sneferu, also the first known smooth-sided pyramid erected in Egypt.
Behind the Red Pyramid stands the Bent Pyramid, the second pyramid constructed by Pharaoh Sneferu. The lower two thirds of the Bent Pyramid has a steeper inclining angle than the upper third, possibly because the ancient architects made the change to avoid collapse during construction. This change of incline had eventually led to the bent appearance of the pyramid.
The Red Pyramid was the third attempt of Pharaoh Sneferu, and the first successful construction of a smooth-sided pyramid.
The slightly red hue of the limestone was the reason behind the pyramid’s name.
At Mit Rahina Museum in Memphis, the the most prominent display is the colossus of Ramses II or Ramses the Great, the most powerful Egyptian pharaoh in history.
The 3200 year old statue of Ramesses II was discovered in 1820 as one of the two colossi at the gate of the Temple of Ptah.
The other of the pair was restored in its full standing position and displayed in the Rameses Square, and then moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
Due to the broken base and feet, the colossus at Memphis Open Air Museum is displayed in a lying position.
The lying position of the statue allow viewers to closely examine the magnificent carving details.
Dated between 1700 to 1400 BC, the Sphinx of Memphis has no indication of which pharaoh it was featuring. The statue was discovered in 1912.
Another highlight of the Memphis Open Air Museum is the statue of Ramses II. The limestone Ramses II is standing in a military position.
Sarcophagus of Amenhotep (Huy), the high steward of Memphis under Pharaoh Amenhotep III.
Carved on Sarcophagus of Amenhotep, Anubis the jackal was the God of Dead for the ancient Egyptians.

HIERAPOLIS, Pamukkale, Turkey

2006.05.06

Communal baths and gymnasiums were essential components in the ancient Roman society.  Records show that 952 baths of different sizes could be found in Rome in 354 AD.  Apart from building up the body and engaging on social gossip, a bath and gymnasium complex might also house a library, a theatre, food shops and reading rooms. Erected right at the hot spring of Pamukkale, Hierapolis was a prominent Roman spa resort.  Other than the usual bathing rituals, bathing in Hierapolis was also a form of medical treatment.  Founded in the 2nd century BC as a thermal spa town, where doctors used the hot springs to treat patients.  In its heyday, Hierapolis had bath houses, gymnasiums, temples, fountains, theatre.  Thousands would come to visit the hot spring, including the Roman emperors.  The city of 100,000 became a wealthy city prominent for art, philosophy and trade.  Outside the city wall, the enormous necropolis suggests that many ancient Romans who came to Hierapolis for medical treatment actually died in the spa city.  The recently discovered Tomb of Philip the Apostle and a number of historical sites in Hierapolis suggest Christianity had taken a strong hold in the city from Late Antiquity to the Byzantine era.

06ME15-09Many tourists come to Hierapolis to take a dip in a pool among ruined marble columns.  The pool is, in fact, doing a disservice to the archaeological conservation.  We just spent time wandering around the ruins leisurely and aimlessly.

necropolis 1Red poppy and yellow wild flowers covered large parts of the ground among the ruins of Hierapolis.

06ME15-25Built in 2nd century AD under Emperor Hadrian, the theatre at Hierapolis has 45 rows of seats that could accommodate about 15,000 spectators.

necropolis 2Tombs and sarcophagus of different sizes could be found in the necropolis.  Some sarcophagus were elevated by a post and beam structure.

06ME15-15The extensive necropolis stretches kilometers and contains thousands of tombs from different era.

06ME15-29We once again passed by the travertine terraces of Pamukkale as we left Hierapolis.

narrow pathInstead of walking down the travertine terraces in barefoot once again, we opted for another winding path to descend.  The path is not for people who scares of height.