Looking for Adventure? Discover The Mysterious Ancient Egypt
Egypt is home to one of the most ancient and most fascinating civilizations known to man. Dating back to 3100 B.C.E., it was ancient even to the ancients: When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C.E, the first pyramids were already almost 3,000 years old, and even older when the Romans took over. Taken as a whole, therefore, the six sites described below cover a tremendously long period of history, which is one of the reasons why Egypt captivates so many people.
The Pyramids at Giza
The first two sites were both listed among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, of which the pyramids are the oldest and best preserved. The three at Giza are the largest and most famous; the pharaohs Khufu (Cheops), Chephren and Menkaure (Mycerinus) are buried here. By the time they were put on the list by the Greeks and Romans, though, their religious role had long been forgotten. Cheops’s pyramid is also 9 feet shorter than it used to be, though it still stands 137 feet high, which is impressive. Several tourists have been killed climbing these structures, which is now illegal.
The Lighthouse at Alexandria
The first important lighthouse in the world, the one at Alexandria once stood on the offshore island of Pharos, whose very name became the Greek word for “lighthouse.” It was designed around 270 B.C.E. by a Greek architect named Sostratus and rose in three sections – square, octagonal and round, from bottom to top – and had a fire on top. Unfortunately it was toppled by an earthquake about a millennium after it was built. The island is now a World Heritage Site (Image by Chris&Steve).
The Temple of the Sphinx at Giza
The ancient Egyptians believed the sphinx to be a form of Ra, their sun god. The statue, whose nose is now missing, was carved from a single block of sandstone.
The Great Temple of Ramses II
This sturcture was carved from the side of a mountain in the mid-1200s B.C.E. The architects who built the statue wanted it to be lit up by the sun twice a year. A Swiss explorer rediscovered it in 1813.
The Temple of Hathor
Hathor was the wife of Horus, son of Osiris and mythical first pharaoh of Egypt. Among the features of her well-preserved temple is the shrine to the birth of Isis (Image by Eddie Crutchley).
The Temple of Hathor, Egypt
The Colossus of Ramses II at Memphis
Our final attraction was moved to a small indoor museum shortly after its discovery nearby. Ramses II was one of the first rulers to extend Egypt’s boundaries well beyond their original location.
One thing that makes Egypt worth studying is its isolation and security. The vast deserts on three sides and the Mediterranean on the fourth made invasion of the country difficult and enabled the Egyptians to develop their own distinct culture. Then of course there is the all-important Nile, with its regular flood patterns that made it possible for farmers to schedule their planting and harvesting. (Other major rivers, like the Tigris and Euphrates, tend to be more erratic.) Is it any wonder, then, that the country has aroused such feelings of mystery in so many people all around the world?
Related post: Great Places to Visit in the Middle East
Featured image courtesy : Diego Guidolin