Posts Tagged ‘Giza Pyramids’

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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zahbey-tabZahi Hawass has never been terribly shy about sharing his opinion, and by now everyone with even a peripheral interest in either Egyptology or R&B music has heard about the Beyonce incident.  But while most coverage has ranged from treating Dr. Hawass like an irascible uncle to bemoaning his lack of diplomacy, there is a larger story broiling beneath what otherwise appears to be a clash between a frustrated host and a spoiled Western Diva.

With timing that could be considered an example of instant karma, the November 16, 2009, issue of The New Yorker hit newsstands with a ten-page article by Ian Parker that asks “Is Zahi Hawass bad for Egyptology?

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

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ar1-tabThe Current issue of Archaeology (Volume 62 Number 4, July/August 2009) has a great article by Bob Brier regarding the theory first proposed by Jean-Pierre Houdin about the possibility of an internal ramp inside Khufu’s Pyramid

The theory accounts for some anomalies in a microgravemetric survey couducted by French researchers in the 1980’s, and includes his trip up the side of the pyramid to explore the “niche”.  He discovered an unexplored chamber right where you would expect one if his theory of an internal ramp was correct…

Archaeology was kind enough to put the entire article online.  Read it here –  Update: Return to the Great Pyramid.

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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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