TOUR


EGYPT
BY RICHARD VARR
36
OF PHARAOH
CRUISING THE
WORLD?S GREATEST
OPEN AIR MUSEUM
I?M HUNCHED OVER in a con-
torted stance, hobbling through
a narrow passageway no more
than five feet high. Sweat beads
on my arms and face as I grip
the wooden railings, descending
quickly down a stone corridor that
cuts deep within the Pyramid of
Khafre. I gasp the stale air, musty
and dusty it seems ? the smell of
nearly 5,000 years.
Only minutes later, I?m standing
in the belly of Egyptian antiquity, in
a dimly lit and barren tomb chamber
dug in bedrock. All that remains is a
granite sarcophagus, once the final
resting place of the 4th Dynasty pha-
raoh Khafre who ruled in the 26th
century BC. It?s hot and humid, dark
and mysterious; but at the same time,
exhilarating and humbling. I?m finally
inside the Giza Pyramids ? one of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
and, in fact, the only ancient wonder
still in existence.
?When a pharaoh was coroneted,
they would immediately start building
him a tomb preparing for his funer-
ary furniture and his amulets ? the
jewelry in what we call the treasure
room,? says tour guide Anwaar Abd
Elkhalek Ibrahim of these royal burial
monuments, which, like most of the
pharaohs? tombs, were plundered
throughout the centuries.
?Gold was melted and valuable
statues just disappeared,? she explains.
?We know that 20,000 pieces disap-
peared or left this country illegally to
be sold in auctions worldwide during
the last 200 years.?
My visit to Giza is just one adven-
ture exploring the relics and ruins of
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