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zz-00One of the fun things about running a website like Em Hotep is that you get to see behind-the-scenes things, like the queries people are entering into search engines to find Em Hotep.  The vast majority are terms and questions you would expect for an Egyptology website, but some questions can seem a little off the wall, until I think back to my own early interest in ancient Egypt and the questions I used to ask.  So some friends recommended I answer them.  Some might make you chuckle, some might make you think.  But either way, it should be a fun read.  The answers will be brief, so don’t expect to get any research done with this article, just pour a cup of coffee and enjoy.

Special thanks goes to writer and artist Ben Morales-Correa, who operates both the All About Egypt and BMC PhotoArt Tutorials websites for suggesting that I take these questions seriously and answer some of them, as well as Donna Elliot who suggested that this might even be a good idea for a chapter in a book, also an idea I rather like…

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labelJean-Pierre Houdin’s theory of how the Great Pyramid of Khufu was built is unique not only in that he explains how this engineering marvel was accomplished, he shows how the architecture itself gives up these secrets.  Nowhere is this more evident than in his explanation of how the Grand Gallery served as the mechanism for constructing the King’s Chamber.

The burial room of Pharaoh Khufu required that his Overseer of Royal Projects, the great architect and engineer Hemienu, transport massive beams of granite, some of which weighed in excess of 60 tons, more than 60 meters above the pyramid’s foundation.  With each successive course of blocks his workspace became more confined, the uphill drag became longer, and the placement became more precise.  Where did the energy required for this undertaking come from?

In Phase One we looked at how two thirds of the pyramid and all of its internal structures below the King’s Chamber were constructed with a ramp that reached less than one third of its height.  In Phase Two we will look at how the King’s Chamber and its related architecture were built using this same ramp, as well as some innovations in design and methodology that included scaffolding, an elevator, and a powerful tractor, all of which were integrated into the architecture itself, and all of which used tools and principles known to be in existence during Hemienu’s time.

We will devote this current article to explaining exactly what it was Hemienu was building in Phase Two.

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If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, what were the first steps Hemienu took when starting the construction of the Great Pyramid?  Six letters from Hemienu is a work of epistolary historical fiction, with a very heavy emphasis on historical, which explores the sort of details that would have required his attention immediately after choosing a building site for Khufu’s Pyramid. 

The purpose of these imaginary missives from the desk of the Overseer of All the King’s Works is to give the reader an idea of the amount of planning, materials, and manpower involved not only in building the Great Pyramid, but in preparation for the work itself.  There were mines and quarries to be opened, a fully functional workers’ city to be constructed, and an entire nation to be mobilized.

In many ways this is a re-introduction to the Hemienu to Houdin series, but it is also intended to be a stand-alone monologic narrative (fancy-speak for letters from just one person that tell a story) of how Hemienu initiated the project that would occupy all of Egypt for more than two decades.  Methods and materials, labor and logistics, tools and tasks, they are all here for your evaluation, along with a short annotated bibliography at the end.

Note:  The names used, with the exception of the Grand Vizier himself, are invented but not without some forethought (the Overseer of the Expedition to the Sinai to open the copper mines, for instance, is named Biah-Ahky, which translates to copper miner), and the titles and positions they hold do have their historical counterparts. 

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