Day 3 – We spent the whole day at Saqqara, and it was fantastic! First up was the tomb of Maya, who was Tutankhamun’s wet nurse. When the tomb was found, it was filled with mummified cats. It was a pretty big tomb for someone who was not part of the royal family.
The tomb next door was for Nemtymes, who was the royal envoy for Ramses II. He was also the “eyes of the king” in the temple of Ptah. The front part of the tomb is Tura limestone. The details of the wigs and the pleats in the clothing is incredible. The back of the tomb is cut right into the bedrock. There is a huge statue of Hathor cut into the rock.
Not too far away, is the Serapeum. This is where the sacred Apis bulls are buried in massive granite or basalt sarcophagi. This was quite an adventure because the power had gone out. We made our way through the catacombs by phone flashlights. It certainly added to the atmosphere! The biggest one weighs over 70 tons.
After that, we made a bit of a trek across the desert to the Hemicycle of Philosophers and Poets. These statues were put here during the reign of Ptolemy I, a general of Alexander the Great, and whose family would rule Egypt for the next 300 years. It’s kind of hard to tell who is who, but they include Plato, Aristotle, and Homer, to name a few.
Next up was the tomb of Mehu in the south of the funerary complex for Pharaoh Djoser (of Step Pyramid fame). Mehu was a vizier and local governor in the 6th dynasty. There were some very elaborate carvings and paintings, which were amazing to see. The color was very vivid in some of them. It also had the most elaborate false door I’ve ever seen.
The next two were a bit of a trek at midday, but we saw the Pyramid of Unas and the tomb of Horemheb. There is a second tomb for Horemheb, where he was actually buried, in the Valley of the Kings. Hoping to see that on a future trip! This one was huge, and more of a temple than a tomb.
Two more stops before lunch!
Finally, across the heb sed court to enter the Step Pyramid of Djoser. Thankfully, we couldn’t climb down this shaft.
Incredibly busy morning, and I was very glad to head to the Saqqara Palm Club for lunch. A beautiful oasis right next to the desert. They have awesome Egyptian sausages, and honey cakes!