Posts Tagged ‘Giza Plateau’

In the first part of January the media began breaking the news that the old yarn about slaves having built the pyramids had finally been dispelled.  Dr. Zahi Hawass of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that three large tombs had been newly discovered very close to the pyramid itself.  As the final resting place of some of the overseers of the workforce, both the structure and location of the tombs made it clear that these were no slaves.

Dr. Hawass’ statement that “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves” (source) was widely repeated in the press under headlines announcing that the belief that slaves had built the pyramids could now be retired.  But Egyptologists have long known that the Slave Hypothesis was pure Hollywood. 

Along with Hawass, Egyptologist Mark Lehner began uncovering the truth of the pyramid builders more than 20 years ago.  Lehner was consumed with the question of where such a large workforce could have lived.  After conducting the first detailed “to scale” survey of the Giza Plateau, he narrowed his focus to the area around the enigmatic Wall of the Crow, a colossal wall with no apparent related structures.

Lehner hit pay dirt, and his dogged pursuit of these ancient builders led to the excavation of the very city where they lived and worked—a large complex of barracks and permanent housing, distribution centers, industrial sites, and scribal workshops.  The recently discovered tombs tell us something of the status of the workers, but the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders gives us the everyday details of their lives.

Most of Em Hotep’s readers will be familiar with Dr. Lehner and his work.  But if you are not, then his total absence from the recent news stories may have left you with an incomplete picture of just how strong the case against the Slavery Hypothesis really is.  In this three-part series we will take a look at what Lehner discovered about the pyramid builders.  We will examine the evidence that the workforce had a surprisingly modern division of labor, followed by a tour of the city itself.

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clowes-tabMore than two thousand Egyptophiliacs lined up outside Clowes Memorial Hall for what Director of Operations Karen Steele informed me was a sold-out house.

It would not be too much of an exaggeration to say the event had the feel of a rock concert.  We were there to see a star.  What secrets would he reveal tonight?  What announcements would he make?

Shemsu scoops the news for Heritage Key. 

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zah-tabMy interview with Zahi Hawass has been posted to Heritage Key!

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2
Aug

Blogroll Roundup for August 2, 2009

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Egypt in the News

Theban tomb tracings, Japanese Egyptology, the Ebony Shrine, more mummy CT scans, and a look at Howard Carter’s Tut notes.

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2
Aug

Khafre’s Valley Temple

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Temples, The Giza Plateau

kvt-tabValley temples were not just the entrance point to pyramid complexes, they were the connection to the Nile River–the eternal source of life for Egypt.  Architectural genius, incredible feats of engineering, and a huge workforce whose actions were as choreographed as any ballet were all required to assure that the Boats of the Gods had access to Khafre’s pyramid complex.  For the Ancient Egyptians, preparation for the afterlife was serious business.

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19
Jul

Blogroll Roundup for July 19, 2009

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Egypt in the News, Living in Louisville!

This is a collection of several Egypt-related stories that appeared this week on some of the blogs I follow.  Find out about a couple of pretty cool discoveries.  See what Zahi Hawass is up to down in Thebes. 

And for my fellow Louisvillians:  Heads up!  There is a wicked King Tut exhibition just two hours away!

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9
Jul

The Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

khu-tabWhen Pharaoh Khufu set out to trump his father’s pyramid at Meidum he set the bar higher than would ever be achieved again.  Khufu had a reputation for being a cruel and despotic ruler, and ignoring all other speculation about how the Great Pyramid was built, the sheer logistics of completing the project within the presumed timeframe suggests in the very least a classic overachiever.  Whatever else may be true of Khufu, the man knew how to get things done.

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9
Jul

The Pyramid of Pharaoh Khafre

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

kha-tabThe second pyramid built on the Giza Plateau, and the second largest in Egypt, Khafre’s Pyramid takes advantage of its superior location to steal the limelight on the plateau.

Possibly symbolic of a second son who was not his father’s first choice to reign, Khafre’s Pyramid steps forward from the plateau’s horizon as if to say “I will have my day in the sun…”

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9
Jul

Pyramid of Pharaoh Menkaure

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, The Giza Plateau

man-tabPerhaps it would be a stretch to call Menkaure’s Pyramid modest, but it is significantly smaller than those of Khufu and Khafre.  He is recalled much more fondly than his autocratic grandfather and seems to have been less vain than his statue-happy father, although more of his statues survived intact and are of such exquisite craftsmanship as to suggest that maybe quality over quantity was Menkaure’s trademark. 

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9
Jul

What is a Pyramid?

   Posted by: Keith Payne

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Memphis, Pyramids, Saqqara, Temples, The Giza Plateau

pyr-tabFor starters, it’s a large four-sided structure made of stone, wide at the bottom and pointy at the top, making a perfect triangle. 

There are three of them, they are located in the middle of the Egyptian desert, they were built by slaves, and they have mummies in them.

Right?  Well…

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kod-tabIt’s the northern tip of a vast cemetery that spans the desert from Memphis to Cairo.  It’s the home of the Great Sphinx, scores of pyramids, and thousands of tombs.  One of its features, the Great Pyramid, is the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, and the best minds still can’t agree on how it was constructed.

Welcome to the Giza Plateau, the only place on Earth that is recognizable from outer space because of a few 4,600 year old buildings.

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