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Step Pyramid, Saqqara

3.0 stars


The Tomb of the Manicurists

If you visit the Step Pyramid and Zoser's Funerary Complex, you will probably be approached at the ticket booths by someone offering to show you the "extras" for a small fee. While we usually shy away from such offers, we decided to try this one, and were pleasantly surprised. Among other sights and some extra historical narrative, we were ushered into the Tomb of the Manicurists. Built as part of the tombs for Zoser's servants who would accompany him into the afterlife, this tomb is the best-preserved and has some interesting hieroglyphs. According to our self-appointed guide, there is apparently some debate as to what sort of relationship existed between the two male manicurists, as some of the hieroglyphs are a bit erotic. At any rate, it's an interesting sidetrack. It was well worth the extra baksheesh to have the opportunity to escape the crowds and learn a bit more about this ancient site. [more ]

The Museum at the Step Pyramid in Saqqara

The new museum opposite the ticket office at Zoser's Funerary Complex and the Step Pyramid in Saqqara is quite small but surprisingly interesting. My traveling companion and I decided to skip the Egyptian Museum in Cairo because we had heard so many poor reviews, but this small museum gave us a good taste of ancient Egyptian artifacts and artwork. There were several mummies, as well as sphinxes recovered from the avenue of the sphinxes nearby, relief carvings from Zoser's complex, and various artifacts recovered from tombs nearby. It is well worth a look and it will take you less than 45 minutes to see the whole thing. If it's not busy, one of the ticket takers at the entrance will accompany you around and explain the origin of the objects in the museum. This will require baksheesh, of course, but it adds a lot to the experience of the museum. [more ]

Step Pyramid at Saqqara

This pyramid is the central part of Zoser's funerary complex and it the oldest in Egypt, and the world's oldest stone monument. It's design predates the later smooth-sided pyramids and it is interesting from this historical perspective. It's not as impressive as the Pyramids at Giza (which you can see in the distance from Zoser's complex), but the complex itself is interesting, particularly if you're knowledgeable about or interested in the development of Egyptian architecture. There are several smaller tombs along the road leading up to Zoser's tomb, and some of the hieroglyphics in these tombs are quite well preserved. Each of these smaller tombs was designed for servants who would accompany Zoser into the afterlife to continue his service. The paintings in the tomb of the manicurists are particularly interesting. Of course, to obtain entry into any of these smaller tombs, the ubiquitous baksheesh will be required. If you go without a guide, you will miss some of the interesting history but you'll save yourself some cash! [more ]

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Step Pyramid Saqqara Servants' Tombs Dwarfed by the Step Pyramid Saqqara Mummy Saqqara Relief Carving Depicting Starvation during a Drought
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1. Pyramid of Teti 3.98 mi
2. Memphis 4.55 mi
3. Red Pyramid 6.59 mi
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