Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Egypt 8: Sakkara

The next morning bright and early we headed off to Sakkara, which is somewhere around Cairo.  I have no idea where, only that it is out to the west of town somewhere because mostly what there was to see at the first stop was miles of sand.  We were there to see some Old Kingdom tombs of the Nobles of 5th and 6th dynasties (ca 2350-2200 BC).

 Here is an entrance to one of the tombs.  Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the tombs.  Still you get an idea of how low and steep the passageways were.  This passageway was actually large, compared to the ones in the great pyramid.  They weren't all steep narrow tunnels, however.

This one was actually at ground level.  Of these tombs, John West says, "With their vibrant, detailed but apparently mundane scenes, they are most assuredly scenes of daily life, but more importantly they are actually metaphors for transformation."  West claims the ancient Egyptians looked at life as an active act of creation.  Of taking some form of raw material, wood, dough, pottery clay, and transforming it into a new form.  Mostly, he says, the so called book of the dead is about transforming and perfecting a person's soul.

Next we traveled a short distance to Sakkara step pyramid and it's huge temple complex.

One begins to get an idea here about what I mean when I said miles of sand.  About the Sakkara step pyramid, West says, "Sakkara is supposed to be the first major stone complex in Egypt, and for that matter, the world, but the sophistication if its plan and the virtuosity of its execution makes it hard to believe that was invented on the spot--like imagining that a 2008 Porsche just appeared out the blue.

I know it may not seem like I've edited out many photos.  If you only knew.  I'm including the first two and this one because I also want you to see at least a glimpse of the Egyptian people.  This is the entrance to the temple complex, seen in the third photo of this post.  These two gate keepers/ticket takers were passing the time with some sort of animated discussion.  We'd have joined in except they were speaking Arabic.

Inside, one walks through a series of columns into a huge courtyard, easily a quarter to a half-mile square.  That's Melony giving Marcus proof that he was indeed here.

West says, "We discusses Egypt as a legacy, not a development.  Sakkara is also remarkably 'modern' looking, as though it were a new campus for, say, the University of Arizona designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a particularly inspired day.  There are reasons for this...

"The interior of the Necropolis enclosure was the scene of the curious Heb Sed festival, which is to me understood as an initiatic process; the culmination of a life of inner work, rather than as proof that the King was physically fit to go on reigning ( the usual explanation)."

This small complex is two thirds the distance from the entrance to the step pyramid.  Sheahan, from our group is waiting for me to pass by so he can take a photo.

Behind the wall where Sheahan is standing in the previous photo is another courtyard, this one smaller, only about 5 acres in size, but it has a series, I believe 6, of these small enclosures protected by a small winding passageway.

Susan is entering the outer walk, she will need to pass around the wall to her right, turn back, walk in the opposite direction before turning around yet again to come to the doorway of the enclosure which one sees in shadow here.

When one steps inside this cavity with its sound box, it's like a sound magnifier.  It's like placing a large sea shell to one's ear, but it also seems to magnify the sound coming from out side as well.

These examples of "calculated resonance" as West calls it, are just further proof to me that whoever built these monuments had a very sophisticated understanding of sound.   Again, we are clearly NOT talking about primitives just coming out of the stone age here.

As you can hopefully see, these images only scratch the surface of what there is to share.  I highly encourage anyone who is even remotely interested to make the trip to Egypt and see all this for yourself.  You won't be sorry.

Continue on to Post 9: Sakkara II by clicking here.


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