In my mind, Egypt is associated with the friends and acquaintances from this country whom we have known for almost a lifetime. And with pyramids, sculptures, painting and literature, sailboats on the Nile and palm trees in oases. Last but not least, with a rising full moon behind remote settlement houses on the Nile. But one after the other.
Photographs of the pyramids of Giza like to show them with the desert as their surroundings. They appear to stand free under a clear, steel-blue sky. At the time these monuments were built, there must have been a strictly organised activity for the mummification of corpses and the documentation of their past lives. A lot of people must have worked there permanently, as scribes, painters, sculptors and not least as tomb architects and workers. Today we would call this an industry.
Modern Cairo is getting closer and closer to the site of the Giza pyramids. The city limits are only a stone’s throw away from the new Egyptian Museum. It is as if this structure is a last warning before the city finally swallows up the pyramids. If you look from the Citadel towards Giza, you almost think the skyscrapers are as tall as the pyramids.
The first step pyramid was erected between 2720 and 2700 BC by Pharaoh Djoser. As with many other ancient statues, its face was destroyed, probably by Christian fundamentalists who wanted to put an end to the statue’s possibility of having an effect on the population. Photographing these statues is only possible with patience, searching for the best perspective and a moment without visitors in the line of sight. Then you can imagine the grandeur and splendour that these works must have once radiated.
The ancient Egyptian museum houses a lot of ancient statues from the old empire. Fortunately, some of these works remained intact due to sand drifts. One can then see the earlier extent of the drifts before the excavations by the boundaries of the fundamentalist destruction.
The bust of the pharaoh Userkaf made of black stone is not only well preserved. Its presentation in the museum makes it reminiscent of a magician who does not want to be recognised. The bust was found at his sun temple at Abu Ghurab. Userkaf was the last king of the 5th dynasty. His pyramid, now ruined, is located a few hundred meters from the northeast corner of Djoser’s 3rd dynasty step pyramid at Saqqara.
From the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by Pharaoh Mentuhoteb II in the years 2030 to 2021 BC, the pharaohs wore a larger headdress symbolising the two parts of the empire.
Less than 200 years later, the pharaohs intensified the cultivation of the Fayyum Oasis for vegetable production by diverting water from the Nile into the area, which was up to 45m below sea level. At that time, a huge lake was created. Although the area has been permanently settled and cultivated for almost 6500 years, sometimes the feeling of a precarious existence of a desert oasis still imposes itself.
There is a relaxing contrast to the oasis when you travel the Nile by boat. Then you are in the middle of the Nile as a lifeline with a green strip on both banks. Apart from numerous cruise ships, barges, sailboats and rowing boats also move on the water.
As the sun set one evening, the last full moon before the beginning of spring rose in Esna. Four weeks later it would be Easter because of this. The lighting conditions favoured a single exposure shot to get a satisfactory result. At 135mm focal length and f8 with ISO 3200, it took me what felt like a very long 1/30s to take the picture.