We headed to Memphis – a town founded 3,300 years before Christ by King Meni who united Upper and Lower Egypt. That length of time is just mind boggling to me as it is time I can get my head around yet it is more than the time we have had after Christ. A long time. It was the first capital of Egypt. It originally sat at the head of the Nile but as the river moved over time so did the capital. Memphis was at one time a bustling (to my mind it still was), cosmopolitan city with temples (Temple of Ptah), settlements, markets, and palaces. In the present there was lots to absorb being just off the plane. I can’t remember being in a city where horse and cart and camels travel on the roads (and they are hectic) alongside cars, buses, trucks and motor cycles.
Finally we arrived at the open air museum which was showcasing Rameses II, the greatest of the Pharaohs . Many of the buildings and temples we passes were built by the King Rameses II who was a prolific builder. He reigned for 66 years and sired 90 children. He obviously had quite a few wives. He fought many wars and is known to have generated one of the world’s first peace treaties.There are more statues of Rameses II than any other pharoh.
This collossal statue of Rameses II weighs 80 tons and is 12 metres high.
How can you tell who it is – we asked our guide. The cartouche – the oblong or square containing heiroglyphics which denote the name of the person being represented. For the first time I understood the true significance of the Rosetta stone which was found in Memphis in 1799. This stone had a decree (written 196BC) that had the three languages – ancient greek heiroglyphic and Demotic script. As each said the same thing it became possible for the first time to unravel the mysteries of the heiroglyphics giving us the best recorded history of the time as each temple had a library full of scrolls. The tombs and temples were engraved so it became possible finally to read the ancients.
This statue of Rameses had no less than 14 cartouches leaving the Egyptologists in no doubt as to whom it was a statue of. In the outdoor area more statues were to be seen of Rameses. This one below built from granite all the way from Aswan. Transporting, and carrying huge rocks long distances was a huge feat in itself.
Before leaving the building however this temple guard insisted on having his photograph taken.
He then grabbed my camera insisting on taking a photograph of us. I can’t tell you how nervous I was. I would have been devastated had my camera run off into the crowd and not been seen again but I needn’t have worried.
It was given back to us and a hand came out for payment. We were too new at this game to realise and refused to pay him. We had no Egyptian coin yet not having been to the bank and …. after all …. we had not asked him to do it.
Outside were many more statues and a small market. Possibly one of the few that did not badger us for our money.
There was also a sphinx of smaller proportions than the one we would see the next day.
The only dogs we saw on our trip. Most temples had oodles of cats.
And although we looked like we had stepped back in time modern conveniences were apparent.
Back into Memphis on our way to lunch. All the shops hung their wares – including meat. It made me wonder what it would be like in the middle of summer when 50 degree Celsius temperatures were being had. No wonder it is predominantly vegetarian.
Bags of oranges hanging.
and bread coming out of the oven.
I can’t say it was making me feel hungry.