I was a little bit afraid that having my birthday without any of my old friends or my family around would totally suck, but instead, I had an amazing day, since I've met so many wonderful people here in Egypt.
The day started early, with a taxi ride to AUC's old campus in downtown Cairo, where we got on the bus that would take us to Giza. Professor Ikram wished me a happy birthday and gave me a brownie, which was very nice of her. The drive to Giza was relatively painless, although commiserating with the other students in my class about how totally lost we are for our midterm on Monday was a little worrisome. Still, I've been studying, and I'll do my best. Hopefully that's good enough.
We started our tour of the Giza plateau by meeting up with an archaeologist who is currently excavating the one of the workers' villages near the pyramids. Her work was really interesting, even if we had to climb ridiculous sand dunes and a giant rocky hill to see it. Here's some pictures of that:
|view across smoggy cairo from the hill|
|the second pyramid|
|foreground: the pyramid builder's village|
|on the left is the top of the hill we climbed, it's a lot higher on the other side.|
|okay, not the sphinx. a camel leg bone prof ikram|
found on the ground and took home with her.
Next, we visited the funerary boat of King Khufu (the builder of the first pyramid). The boat museum was wonderfully designed, and we got to wear awesome shoes inside to protect the boat:
|the boat pit where the boat was found|
|so pretty. i want to sail in it.|
|what do you mean, i can't sail in it? why not?|
Luckily, I'd brought my entire bag with me, two huge water bottles, four granola bars and all. I got a little dehydrated, just because I was usually too busy scrambling along with the group like good little ducklings to have time to take a drink, but by the end of the trip, both bottles were completely empty.
After seeing the boat, we entered two mastaba tombs of the 5th dynasty (I think). They were both really interesting, with carvings and paintings just like we'd talked about in class. Did I take pictures, despite the sign saying no cameras? Well, yes. Because the professor told me I could:
|the tomb owner and his special kilt|
The first pyramid was amazing, with the corbelled ceiling in the grand gallery and the sheer size of the tunnels through the rock. The pathways up to the burial chamber were steep, but not impossible. It felt like there wasn't any air inside, and it was amazingly hot and humid, but as you can see (read?), I survived. It was a close thing, though, especially when I hit my head on the ceiling of one of the tunnels, giving myself an instant headache. Ouch. Getting back out into the fresh air was a huge relief, except then we walked straight over to the next pyramid to go inside that one as well.
I almost didn't go, just because I'd already seen it, but then I thought, why miss out on the chance to visit it again, with a famous Egyptologist as a tour guide? It was a great choice, and I had a good time, even though I almost suffocated again.
(The best part of being inside the great pyramid, by the way, was when a man inside with a flashlight offered to take a group picture of us by the king's sarcophagus, even though photos are strictly not allowed. Professor Ikram said it was okay, though, so I jumped at the chance. I'll post that picture whenever I find it on someone's facebook, I promise. Even if I look horrible in it. [Here it is!])
|i'm waaay in the back, just about in the middle. behind the freaking sarcophagus.|
When we got back to the dorms, sigh, I came upstairs and studied some more. Aren't I dedicated? I hope that I do okay on my Dramatic Lit midterm tomorrow, because I'm afraid I kind of neglected it in favor of studying for Art and Architecture. Oh well.
In conclusion, I had an amazing twentieth birthday, and I can only hope that bodes well for the coming year.