National Geographic : 1991 Apr
Djoser, built 1,400 years before Ramses. "This was the cream of Ramses' society," says Tawfik. "Remember, Memphis was the administrative capital, where the day-to-day business of empire was carried on." We walk amid crumbling wall foundations and pits 30 feet deep. Over one pit rises a scaffold with a winch needed to pull heavy stone sarcophagi from the burial chambers below. We visit the temple-like tomb of Neferron pet, Ramses' chief administrator. At the rear is the base of a small pyramid. "These people were rich; they wanted pyra mids like the king's," says Tawfik. I wander amid the tombs. Ghosts abound: the overseer of the army and the overseer of the royal household, the royal physician, the keeper of the house of gold and silver, the In a forest ofcolumns, touristsmarvel at the temple ofKarnak, birthplaceof Amun, greatest ofEgyptiangods. Ramses 11 and his father, Seti, raisedthis hall, one of the largest built until modern times. Originallyplastered,painted,and roofed, the temple filled during thefesti val of Opet, a month-long ritualof renewal. The exterior of the north wall (left) displays incised reliefs commemo ratingthe victories ofSeti. During thefestival, a statue ofAmun was carriedfrom Karnak to the temple of Luxor (map andfollowingpages).