Ruins of Bustling Port Unearthed at Egypt's Giza Pyramids

TORONTO — The remains of a bustling port and barracks for sailors or military troops have been discovered near the Giza Pyramids. They were in use while the pyramids were being built about 4,500 years ago.

The archaeologists have been excavating a city near the Giza Pyramids that dates mainly to the reign of the pharaoh Menkaure, who built the last pyramid at Giza. Also near the pyramids they have been excavating a town, located close to a monument dedicated to Queen Khentkawes, possibly a daughter of Menkaure. The barracks are located at the city, while a newly discovered basin, that may be part of a harbor, is located by the Khentkawes town. Read more.

Menkaure and a Queen

Example of typical Egyptian art. This sculpture depicts the Pharaoh Menkaure pictured with his most important wife. The figures remain attached and very much a part of the stone they were carved from because Egyptians were obsessed with stability and the rock gives the figures power. More than naturalism, integrity was important to the Egyptians. For this reason, Egyptian art remains seemingly static through many of it’s dynasties. 


 Menkaure’s pose is rigidly frontal with the arms hanging straight down and close to his well-built body. He clenches his hands into fists with the thumbs forward and advances his left leg slightly, but no shift occurs in the angle of the hips to correspond to the uneven distribution of weight. Khamerernebty stands in a similar position. Her right arm, however, circles around the king’s waist, and her left hand gently rests on his right arm. This frozen stereotypical gesture indicates their marital status. The husband and wife show no other sign of affection or emotion and look not at each other but into space. The artist’s aim was not to portray living figures, but to suggest the timeless nature of the stone statue that might have to serve as an eternal substitute home for the ka.

Ancient Giza Pyramid Builders' Camp Unearthed

The builders of the famous Giza pyramids in Egypt feasted on food from a massive catering-type operation, the remains of which scientists have discovered at a workers’ town near the pyramids.

The workers’ town is located about 1,300 feet (400 meters) south of the Sphinx, and was used to house workers building the pyramid of pharaoh Menkaure, the third and last pyramid on the Giza plateau. The site is also known by its Arabic name, Heit el-Ghurab, and is sometimes called “the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders.”

So far, researchers have discovered a nearby cemetery with bodies of pyramid builders; a corral with possible slaughter areas on the southern edge of workers’ town; and piles of animal bones. Read more.

Giza Plateau cleaned of garbage and dung

A private company is now cleaning Giza Plateau, the world famous archaeological site, removing garbage accumulated in the area and attempting to recapture its serenity.

Visitors to the plateau, where the three pyramids of ancient Egyptian kings Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure are located, along with the Sphinx, will be pleasantly surprised with the change. 

Due to a lack of security and the absence of police on the plateau, the site, like other archaeological sites, was subject to encroachment. Horse and camel owners violated the law and entered the archaeological safe zone in an attempt to find clients. After the revolution, the number of tourists to Egypt has decreased, leading to greater competition in the Egyptian tourism trade. Read more.


The King and The Youth: Pharaoh Menkaure, the Kouroi and the Egyptians Influence on The Greeks

     Menkaure was pharaoh that ruled in the Fourth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He is most remembered for his contribution of the construction of ‘The Pyramid of Menkaure’ or 'The Pyramid of Mycerinus’, the smallest and third pyramid on the Giza Plateau in Cairo, Egypt.

     One of Menkaure’s most famous 'portrait’ of himself as pharaoh is the diorite statue of him and his wife, possibly Khamerernebty I, although there is debate since Menkaure had two different wives during his reign as pharaoh. Both standing side by side, Menkaure illustrates a straight and stiff posture, arms down to his sides, hands molded into fists, with his left leg striding forward. His facial features and body are created almost to illustrate 'ideal beauty’ during the time. Youthful face, slender body, and strong stance indicate not only his power over the Kingdom of Egypt but also the connection of him to the gods in his young face, almost never aging, as the gods were depicted. His queen stands by him, with her right arm wrapped around to his waist, demonstrating a definite bond between the two. Her posture is the same as her husbands, straight with her leg put forward. This rigid 'portrait’ of the pharaoh had been the same up until the reign of Akhenaten in the Eighteenth Dynasty. 

     While in Ancient Egypt the portrayal of the pharaohs changed, the statue of Menkaure and Khamerernebty I’s straight, stiff, and idealized characteristics were used in later art by the Greeks. Kouros during the Archaic Period in Greece were Greek youthful males, between the ages of 13 to 15, who were seen to the Greeks as the ideal, perfect representation of beauty. The kouroi (plural for kouros) statues had two main functions: to represent the god Apollo and to be as grave markers to commemorate the deceased males, whether from the games or from battle. A famous grave marker is the Kroisos Kouroi, originally found in Attica attributed to the grave of a male youth named Kroisos. What is fascinating is that the Kouroi’s appearance in stance, facial features, and form are practically identical to Menkaure’s statue that was created about 2,000 years prior to the popularization and creation of the Kouroi’s. Pictured side by side, Kroisos has the same arms to his side, fists clenched, leg striding forward, and looking straight forward. Besides the trademark 'Archaic smile’ on the Greek youth’s face, his face is youthful, like Menkaure’s, and his body is toned and slender like the Pharaohs. 

     Although there are more examples that can trace the parallels of Egyptian influence on Greek art, these two comparisons, Menkaure and His Queen and the Kroisos Kouroi, equal a wonderful example of how Ancient Egyptian art molded a very popular and important aspect of Archaic Greek art. The mixture of Greek art and Egyptian art elements in one piece, as seen in the kouroi is just one of the many reasons why I love ancient art, and Egyptian art in particular: the major impact the Ancient Egyptians had on other cultures is extraordinary to me. 

You can see the Kroisos Kouroi at The Getty Villa in Malibu, California and Menkaure and His Queen at The Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Menkaure Pyramid opened to public after restoration

CAIRO: The 4,300-year-old pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of the trio at Giza, is now opened to the public after the completion of its renovation, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty announced Tuesday.

The reopening of the pyramid comes in accordance with the antiquities ministry’s strategy involving “a rotation schedule whereby every one or two years, one pyramid is to be closed for cleaning and renovation work, while the other two pyramids remain open to public,” said Damaty in a statement Tuesday.

The Pyramid of Khafre will be closed for routine cleaning and restoration starting from April 1, he said. Read more.

What happened to the missing mummies of Egypt's lost queens?

On 2nd February 1925, the photographer from the Harvard-Boston archaeological expedition was setting up his camera tripod on the rocky plateau of Giza close to the base of the Great Pyramid. Having some degree of difficulty in his attempt to get the legs on an equal footing, he dislodged what he assumed was a small piece of limestone, but which closer inspection revealed to be a fragment of plaster, the kind of plaster traditionally used in ancient times to seal up the entrance of a tomb.

With the same archaeological team having already made a series of spectacular discoveries at Giza over the previous 20 years, most notably a large group of superb statues of King Menkaure, builder of Giza’s third pyramid, this new discovery was so unexpected the excavation director George Reisner was still in the US. So the task of opening the tomb fell to his British assistant Alan Rowe and his Egyptian head foreman Said Ahmed Said, whose removal of the plaster covering revealed a 100 foot vertical shaft cut down into the limestone bedrock, filled solid with limestone masonry and yet more plaster. Read more.