Posts Tagged ‘Old Kingdom’

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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edfu1-tabEdfu is most often associated with the Temple of Horus built there during the Ptolemaic Period, but the Tell Edfu Project, directed by the Oriental Institute’s Dr. Nadine Moeller, is literally uncovering a much older story.  Ancient Edfu was a persistent city that took a two-fisted approach to adversity and not only survived the first two Intermediate Periods, but flourished.

In Edfu Part One:  Ancient Djeba we will look at the history of this ancient mid-sized town that shattered the myth of Egypt being a “civilization without cities.”

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27
Aug

Sixth Dynasty

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

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27
Aug

Fifth Dynasty

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27
Aug

Fourth Dynasty

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27
Aug

Third Dynasty

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djo-tabThe complex of Djoser at Saqqara is more than just the first pyramid and template for all pyramid complexes that would follow. 

Djoser’s complex is a highly integrated machine, an eternal representation of institutions, religions, and architecture culled from all corners of Egypt and incorporated into a stone microcosm intended to project the king’s world into the afterlife.

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2
Aug

Khafre’s Valley Temple

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

   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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31
Jul

The Pyramid of Pharaoh Teti

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, Saqqara

tet-tabThe Sixth Dynasty rolled in like the thunderhead that portents a rising storm.  There had been tension between the royal line from which Teti descended and the one which had just vacated the throne.  Court officials had grown accustomed to wealth.  Provincial nobles were flexing their will to independence.  Famine.  Waves of refugees.  Ongoing religious reform.  Teti’s agenda could be summarized in two words–damage control.

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27
Jul

The Pyramid of Pharaoh Unas

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

   in Old Kingdom, Lower Egypt, Pyramids, Saqqara

una-tabThe King is dead, long live the King.

The death of Pharaoh Unas prompted the most fragile transfer of power in the Old Kingdom to date, but it would hardly be the last, or the worst.  Without an heir, or at least one who ascended to the throne, the fact that the crown passed from one dynasty to another peaceably amidst a time of growing turmoil is a testament to what remained of Egypt’s institutions.

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mer-tabIn every recession there are winners and losers.  Meet Chief Justice and Vizier Mereruka, one of the winners.  Even as the kings during his lifetime were building ever-smaller and cheaper pyramids, this officer of the royal court built the Taj Mahal of the Sixth Dynasty.

Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  But Mereruka stands out as an excellent example how the power dynamics were shifting as the Old Kingdom entered its twilight years. 

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9
Jul

What is a Pyramid?

   Posted by: Shemsu Sesen

   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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