Keeping with yesterday’s subject of “Places I Want to Visit Before I Die”, did you know that the Pyramids of Giza are the oldest of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? They are an enigma to many archaeologists and historians even today, much like Stonehenge and other sacred burial sites with unexplainable structures. A brief history lesson:
The original Seven Wonders of the World come from the Hellenic era and were often visited by Greek tourists. In this list, only one remains intact – the Pyramids of Giza. Both the fate and location of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is still unknown. The rest (the Colossus of Rhodes, the Statue of Zeus, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the Temple of Artemis) have all been destroyed over the ages, mostly by natural disasters. With similar prominence to the Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, these Hellenic wonders were feats of architecture that brought awe to the peoples of the ancient world. Even today, we are astounded by these feats: theories still abound about the existence of the Hanging Gardens, and statues from both the Mausoleum and Temple of Artemis are displayed in London.
Knowing the history of these monuments, I believe it’s important to embrace the feats of our ancestors. Giza itself has been standing for over four thousand years. Let me repeat: The Great Pyramid of Giza has been standing for over four thousand years. Our modern buildings could never withstand the years so handsomely. And, yes, the pyramids we see now don’t hold a candle to the pyramids of old. The handsome white stone has been stripped and used for other building projects, and four thousand years does put some pressure and wear-and-tear on stone… but still… aren’t they remarkable?
Giza itself is set up as a complex – the large pyramid was the tomb of the king and queen, and it was surrounded with smaller pyramids intended to house the many wives of the pharaoh, his nobles, and various mortuary sites. The Egyptian practice of embalming and mummification require great care and precision, and while I shan’t go into it here, there’s little surprise as to why this site is so complex – a small “city of the dead,” if you will. Ancient Egyptians held great reverence for their dead ancestors, and Osiris, the God of the Underworld. Their dog-headed god Anubis – still well-known even to those who have not studied history or mythology – guarded over the dead and is widely associated with the mummification process.
Egyptian culture and intent aside… don’t the pyramids call out to the adventure in everyone? From Indiana Jones to Brendan Fraser’s “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns”, excavation of these sites has led to priceless treasures and artifacts displayed all over the world. The most prominent site for Egyptian artifacts (other than Egypt itself) is the British Museum of Natural History.
Then, of course, there’s the looting and the graverobbing associated with the sites as well. And the grooves in the ground which suggest large vessels were once perched outside the pyramids. There are so many mysteries about this wonder that tug at the mind and intrigue the soul. Can you imagine staring into the haze over the blue sky, and the tops of the pyramids come into view?
As someone who has never seen them, this intrigues me.
“Ancient.” – Daily Post, Oct. 20, 2016