Written by Cassidy Murray
Egypt is one of the most intriguing countries in the world. It not only is home to sites that have been around for over 5,000 years, but it is also known for its chaotic yet fun culture. My family and I have traveled to Egypt 3 times and it never ceases to amaze us every trip. Whether you travel on a Nile cruise or tour on your own, you will find the magic of ancient Egypt at every turn.
Each Egyptian city has hidden sights and treasures and even in the desert it’s common to find amazing artifacts. This past trip we traveled to Cairo and Luxor and many of the cities in between that are famous for all sorts of historical finds. And although all the most recognized sites are wonderful, I enjoyed traveling through the local streets and visiting the historical ones off the beaten path.
My favorite ancient Egyptian sites are in the old city of Saqqara from 2667 BC and the nearby Dashur from 2500 BC. Saqqara is the site of the very first Egyptian pyramid – the Step Pyramid and Dashur offers the fascinating Bent Pyramid – the 2nd pyramid ever built. In case you didn’t know, these pyramids were built as tombs for the ancient Egyptian kings some of which date back to 5000 years ago.
The first pyramid ever made is quite recognizable from the others because of its step-like shape. The ancient Egyptians believed that the higher these king’s tombs would reach to the sky, the closer they could be to their gods which means they could reach heaven faster. This might sound like nonsense nowadays since we know there is no limit to the sky, but back then they believed that the sun itself was a god so why not believe that the gods are waiting for us at the limit of the sky?
After the the first Step Pyramid was built, they thought about changing its structure to resemble the later-built Great Pyramid of Giza, but something must have happened along the way – and so it became called The Bent Pyramid. Why this name? Scholars believe it’s because the ancient Egyptians were planning on building this next pyramid with smooth sides even taller than the last, but about half way through they realized it was too tall and steep to stand, so they had to change the second half to a less-angled shape.
Usually at the bottom of each pyramid is a small altar for sacrifices dedicated to the buried king. The king’s loved ones would leave objects such as flowers, food and money in the temple and hope their loved one would be peaceful in the afterlife. But it is not common to see these temples standing when the pyramids above are over 5000 years old. The Bent Pyramid is one of the only ones that still has a temple standing at the foot of the pyramid. This small shrine was made out of mud brick blocks and is still in very good shape. Since the Bent Pyramid is isolated from any big cities and tour buses full of tourists, we got to get a closer look at the mud brick blocks dating back to 4,500 years ago. I could still see the hay and grass that was used to make the bricks and the symbols printed on each of them with the signature of the man who made them. It was fascinating to see these artifacts laying around in the sand and it amazed me that they hadn’t been uncovered yet. Archaeologists say that only 30% of Egypt’s sites and artifacts have been uncovered. This means there are still many more treasures to be found and much more to learn about this ancient culture.
In the temple at the Saqqara complex were small shrines dedicated to specific gods because of ancient Egypt’s polytheistic beliefs. In each of these shrines they usually created solid gold statues of the gods they were honoring, this is where they would bring gifts and sacrifices. Throughout thousands of years of history, most of theses statues and shrines were all stolen due to their very valuable price – so now we are only left to imagine what they would have looked like. Personally I’ve always wondered where all the treasures have gone. Were they taken by ancient Romans and melted into ancient coins? Were they perhaps taken by ancient Egyptian commoners who were in need of money? Sorry I got a little thrown off course…
Anyways, Saqqara and Dashur still remain 2 of my favorite sites in Egypt and for anyone planning a trip to Egypt any time soon, say hi to the locals for me!
Hi, I’m Cassidy. I am 15 years old and have been traveling and volunteering with my family for the past 4 years. I grew up in Italy where I found my love for singing, dancing, and pretty much all things Italian. My favorite place in the world is Venice, Italy – where I spent my childhood and consider my true home. I love to write about the beautiful and funny side of life and travel in my blog Ciao Cassidy and I share my passion for volunteering with kids around the world in Kids Unite 4 Hope.