7 Wonders of Ancient Egypt
Lasting Monuments of the Egyptians
Over 3,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians created some of the finest
monuments the world has ever seen. The Great Pyramid, the largest stone
building on Earth. The Valley of the Kings, underground tombs holding
the treasure of the pharaohs.
The kings of ancient Egypt were no mere mortals, they were Gods
incarnate, and the ancient Egyptians cared more for the burial of their
kings than any other nation that has existed. 3,500 years ago they began
to build the most revered cemetery on Earth. The Valley of the Kings is
the most magnificent burial ground in the world. Sixty two tombs, cut
deep into the rock, overflowing with the treasures of ancient Egypt. Pharaohs
like Tutankhamun and Ramesses the Great were laid to rest
here. The oldest tomb in the valley belonged to King Tutmos 1st and
dates back to the 16th century B.C. Most of the tombs in the valley are
unfinished, the work being cut short by the king's death. However, the
tomb of Seti 1st is virtually complete. It was unearthed by Giovanni
Battista Belzoni in 1817 who was fortunate enough to chance upon the
longest and deepest of all the tombs.
Queen Hatshepsut's Temple
Built over the hillside from the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of
Queen Hatshepsut is the most impressive monument of western Thebes.
Hatshepsut's futuristic temple is packed with revolutionary features, a
fitting memory to one of Egypt's most innovative pharaohs. The eldest
daughter of Tutmos I, her young stepson became pharaoh, Tutmos III.
Worried that the boy might lose control, she appointed herself co-regent
and later King. Unlike Cleopatra and Nefertiti, little is known about
Hatshepsut. She set out to finish what her husband had started, under
her control it would take fifteen years to complete the greatest
architectural achievement of her dynasty.
Karnak Temple Complex
When Thebes became the religious centre of Egypt, the Karnak temple
became the seat of Amun, the state God. Karnak was soon home to over 600
priests. It's buildings spread south and west towards the Nile. At the
centre, is a hyper-style hall with a forest of columns, some of which
reach 70ft high. It also contains Hatshepsut's obelisk which at 96ft is
the largest surviving obelisk standing in Egypt. Weighing 323 tons, it
is carved from a single piece of granite from 400 miles away at Aswan.
Building on a massive scale never daunted the Kings of Ancient Egypt,
each one set out to surpass the last.
Temple of Ramesses
Built to advertise Ramesses' ultimate power, the Temple at Abu Simbel
would be the finest rock-cut temple in the world. Gangs of masons were
set to work on the facade to transform a cliff-face into two enormous
statues of the pharaoh. Carved out of the living rock they would be 69ft
high. It is thought that the location was chosen partly for the
suitability of the rock face and also because it was close to the Nile
and would be seen, from miles away, by anyone entering Egypt from the south.
St. Catherine's Monastery
Some wonders are not man-made, they are natural shrines and spiritual
landmarks. At 7,000ft Mount Sinai, or Gebel Moosa, is the highest
mountain in southern Sinai and one of the most spiritual places on
Earth. According to biblical accounts, it was here that Moses, amidst a
violent storm, scrambled to the top of the mountain where, it is said,
the heavens opened and God gave Moses the 10 commandments written on 2
stone tablets. To mark the site where Moses received the commandments, a
Greek Orthodox monastery was built over 1500 years later and dedicated
to the Christian martyr St. Catherine. The monastery is the oldest on
Earth, and has been the centre for pilgrimages for over 15 centuries. It
is also one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture. Since
Moses' time the monks have carved 4,000 steps of repentance up the
mountainside allowing pilgrims a path to the top.
The largest free-standing stone sculpture in the world. An enigma and
very mysterious as no-one is certain who it depicts, or who made it.
Hald human, half animal, the Sphinx has long been considered the
strangest icon on the planet. At 60m long and 20m high, it guards the
Giza plateau beside Egypt's two largest pyramids. For centuries, the
Sphinx has been seen as the key to life. Pharaohs have worshipped at
it's feet, conquerors have knelt down before it. The Sphinx has been
subjected to every test but remains an enigma. Why was it built, why are
there tunnels inside it, which king does it represent, what power does
the Sphinx hold? In ancient Egyptian art, the idea of fusing animal with
human was nothing new, but this was the first time a human head was
sculpted onto a lion's body. In Egypt there was only one erson who could
be portrayed in this way, the Pharaoh himself.
The Great Pyramid
Is the oldest wonder of the world and has been standing for 4,500
years. It's the greatest tomb ever constructed and remains the largest
stone building on Earth. It was built for the Pharaoh Khufu in 2,560
B.C. and from that time to this, the great pyramid has remained an icon
of world architecture. Khufu set out to create a pyramid that was
perfect. It is aligned with the compass and the base is level. It covers
an area of 13 acres and is level to within one inch. It is constructed
from 2,300,000 stone blocks, some of which way 5 tons and took 22 years
Queen to Pharaoh - Catharine H. Roehrig, Renee Dreyfus
of a Temple - Elizabeth Blyth