Egyptian Journal – Day 3 – The Giza Plateau

Frankly, there are simply no adjectives powerful enough to communicate what it’s like to stand  at the feet of the Great Sphinx overlooking the Pyramids of Giza. It’s sort of like showing someone a photo of the Grand Canyon. Nothing I say here can possibly do it justice, but I will do my best.

THE SPHINX:

The Sphinx is one of the world’s tallest sculptures. To give you a sense of its dimensions, it is over 240 feet long, roughly the height of a Giant Sequoia or 4/5 as tall as Elizabeth Tower in London (called “Big Ben” by most American tourists). The sculpture is 65 feet high (the length of a semi-trailer truck). It’s forelegs are each the size of a large city bus and even a single toe is over 8 feet tall and four feet wide. 

Along with all the different emotions that collide when you are staring up at this incredible piece of eternity, is the knowledge that so few people actually get to experience it. Not only because the trip to Egypt long, arduous and just flat-out impossible for some, but also because government permissions are required in advance in order to be allowed anywhere inside the Sphinx enclosure. It requires security checks and large fees and someone with the political connections to gain access. As a result, almost all tourists view the Sphinx from a walking platform about 100 feet away. It’s a very different experience to walk between the feet of the Sphinx, to run your fingers over it…and to feel that it’s become a part of you, and you a part of it…forever.

David Rohl, the Egyptologist who put together our particular cruise, arranged everything for us and for that, I will be forever grateful. I was even able to place my fingertips on the Dream Stela located between the forelegs of the Sphinx. This a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Of course the Sphinx isn’t the only attraction on this famous plateau. 

THE PYRAMID OF KHUFU:

The Great Pyramid of Giza (built to honor the Pharaoh Khufu) is actually one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Standing almost 500 feet tall, (about the height of a 50-storey building or a 777 aircraft standing on end), it’s comprised of 2,300,000 stone blocks that weigh anywhere from 2-30 tons each. Massive doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

In order to comprehend the scale of the thing, you need to stand well back and see all the people climbing to the Roman entrance located about 1/4 of the way up. Only after you see it in scale, are you able to marvel at what an incredible feat of engineering it was. Think of the labors of Hercules. The questions that spring to mind are…

  • How was anyone able to construct anything that tall with such rudimentary tools?
  • How could they hoist these 2 to 30-ton blocks of stone all the way to the top with no modern equipment?
  • How could they cut the stone into these squares and fit them together in a way that they wouldn’t collapse even now…4,600 years later?
  • HOW IN THE WORLD were they able to complete it in only 20 years?

EDUCATIONAL NOTES:

Years back, Egyptologists thought that the Sphinx was built after the Great Pyramid of Giza as another way to honor the Pharaoh Khufu with a sculpture of a lion’s powerful body, topped with his head.

However, after studying erosion patterns within the stone, Egyptologists now think the Sphinx was originally built roughly 5,000 years ago, hundreds of years beforethe pyramids on the Giza Plateau.

Originally carved to resemble a strong lion, reclining, but ready to pounce. It is now believed that only later did Khufu, instruct his craftsmen to carve away the lion’s head and replace it with his own image — which explains why the head is so out of proportion with its body. 

Now, the giant statue stands for eternity as the perfect union of a predator’s strength and the wisdom of man.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

If all we did was spend one day in the prescience of the Great Sphinx, it was worth everything we went through to get here. 

The mango juice and the breeze as we float down the Nile are just lovely bonuses. 

I must admit, I am starting to feel just a little bit like Cleopatra…and I like it.

3 comments

Add Yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s