June 7, 2012

Egyptian Pyramid Construction Part 4

There are a number of other unsolved mysteries which arise in connection with the actual construction of the Great Pyramid. One of these concerns the materials used on the outer surfaces of the pyramids of the Old Kingdom. This controversy has arisen because of a hieroglyphic sign which appears on the wall of each burial chamber in every pyramid of the Old Kingdom period. This sign represents a pyramid in white, with a black base, reddish brown speckled sides and a capstone of blue or yellow. Some Egyptologists interpret this hieroglyph to mean that the outer surface or the finished pyramid was painted, perhaps after the application of plaster to give the surface a smooth finish. Others believe that the white part of the hieroglyph represents the naturally white Tura limestone. They further speculate that, contrary to accepted belief, another type of stone, one with a speckled appearance, was actually used on the sides and that only the base and capstone were painted.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramids
The only known records on the subject of the building of the Great Pyramid are writings of the Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Egypt during the Fifth Century B.C., around the time of the Twenty-eighth Dynasty, at least two thousand years after the erection of the monumental structure. According to the historian, the Great Pyramid was built in twenty years by 400,000 laborers. These laborers were divided into four groups of 100,000 men each. Each group worked on the construction of the pyramid for a period of four months per year. If we accept this number as correct and there is no source other than Herodotus to which one can turn for that information we must then conclude that the Egyptian officials were faced with the interesting problem of providing food, shelter, sanitation facilities etc., for 100,000 workers. Even if there were only 200,000 men in total, each working for a period of six months, the same problem would have existed. Yet there is no evidence of any structures or facilities which might have been used to house such a massive number of workers. The alternative, then, is that the construction workers did not actually live at the site but commuted to it daily from their homes. Since the only modes of transportation were via foot, waterway or animal-back, it is obvious that commuting was hardly as speedy as it is today. A reasonable estimate of the time it would have taken a worker to arrive at the construction site from his home is three hours. Given six hours of travel time per day, and a probable ten or twelve hour work schedule, the pyramid construction builder was left with a maximum of eight hours of sleeping time (skipping meals and any other activity) in which to recuperate from what must have been excruciatingly exhausting work.

Still another dispute centering around the construction workers themselves is the contention of some authorities that the workers were executed after the pyramid on which they were working was built so that they would not be able to reveal the secret of the passageways leading to the burial chamber. If this were the case, mass graves would have been required. So far, none have been found. Of course, other methods, such as the use of gigantic funeral pyres, could have been employed to dispose of the bodies. However, no records or evidence exists to confirm such a supposition. But common sense suggests that such mass executions would have been, to say the least, impractical, since they would have wiped out the major portion of the Egyptian population, not to mention a sizeable percentage of the total world population. Having committed such a massive genocidal action, the pharaohs would then have had to wait for a minimum of fifteen or twenty years until the population had regenerated itself to the point where there were enough people to build a new pyramid. But, according to the archaeologists themselves, several pyramids were built within a few years of each other. These two beliefs then raise an interesting paradox: men who have just been executed cannot function as construction workers.

Another case in which the archaeologists have demonstrated their willingness to accept hearsay as fact is on the subject of the time it took to build a pyramid. Herodotus’ claim that the building of the Great Pyramid took twenty years is, of course, totally unsupported. Further, he makes no statement whatsoever as to the length of time it took to build the lesser pyramids. Nevertheless, archaeologists have eagerly pounced on the twenty-year time period and have blithely assigned it to all pyramidal construction.

The purpose to which the pyramids were put apparently does not present as much of a problem to Egyptologists as does the construction. They are convinced that the pyramids were used as tombs to inter the bodies of the deceased pharaohs. The burial customs of upper and lower Egypt, before unification, were completely different. Upper Egyptians buried their dead in cemeteries situated near the edge of the desert. These graves were usually lined with brick, had timber roofs and were marked with a mound of sand. The burial of bodies in lower Egypt however, was actually done beneath the floor of one of the rooms of the house. This is what leads Egyptologists to believe that when the two parts of Egypt were unified, the burial custom of lower Egypt was adopted and from this there was a simple transition to full blown pyramidal burial houses. Another simple transition could have been achieved by using the pyramid as a great monument, marking the location of the grave instead of using sand as a mound marker. According to Egyptologists, the transition from the mound burial (or mastaba structure burial) to the step pyramid may be related to Incantation Number 267 of the Pyramid texts carved on walls of the chambers and corridors of pyramids in the late Fifth and early Sixth Dynasties. This incantation read: “A staircase to heaven is laid for him (the pharaoh) so that he may mount up to heaven thereby.” Therefore it is assumed that the Icing thought he or, more probably, his spiritual body, could approach the celestial heaven via a staircase. It was then obviously necessary to construct a symbolic staircase. This could have been done in the form of a step pyramid.

One theory as to the reason for the evolution of the step pyramid into the true pyramid is that an Egyptian (and a member of a sun-worshipping race) one cloudy day drew a picture of four rays of sun shining through the clouds at such an angle as to form a pyramid. The drawing later served as the basis for the plan of a true pyramidal building. This rather ingenious explanation is not readily accepted by the majority of experts.

Interesting enough, this particular aspect of pyramid building does not seem to have caught the interest of Egyptologists and there are no other theories as to the motivation behind the construction of the first true pyramids.

It should be mentioned here that throughout the Middle East there was a prevailing philosophy which required the erection of tall buildings to bring worshippers closer to their gods. In Mesopotamia, for instance, tall brick towers called ziggurats were built precisely for this purpose. There are some people who believe that the Tower of Babel was actually a Babylonian ziggurat.

Speculation about the purposes of the pyramids is, of course, not unique to archaeologists and historians of the twentieth century. The Arabs associated the pyramids with scriptural accounts of the flood. They claimed that the pyramids were built as a result of a dream in which the dreamer was warned that a great flood would come and destroy all Egyptian wisdom and knowledge. Because dreams were regarded with great respect and awe, this warning was taken seriously and vaults, in the shape of pyramids, were built to preserve the precious records from the flooding.

Another speculation, which arose sometime before the Fifth Century A.D., was that the pyramids were the graineries in which Joseph stored the corn during the seven lean years. This belief survived through the Middle Ages and is still preserved in pictorial form in the decorated dome of the Church of St. Mark in Venice, Italy.

In the 1850’s, a man named John Taylor published his speculation that Cheops’ pyramid was built by a race of non-Egyptians under the direction of God.

Today’s prevailing theory is that the pyramids of Egypt were built as tombs. Egyptologists are firmly and unshakably convinced of the validity of their belief in this assumption, despite the fact that archaeologists investigating virtually identical pyramids in South and Meso-America are equally firmly convinced that the American pyramids were built as temples.

We believe that present day theorists have allowed themselves to become so preoccupied with their own theories, and are so busy defending any challenges to them, that they are unable to deal with other hypotheses which might very well be as sound as their own.

It seems to us that so long as Egyptologists continue to squabble over the methods of construction used to build the Great Pyramid, with the members of each school of thought tenaciously and blindly

clinging to their own theories, like small children stubbornly hanging on to old, soiled teddy bears, the mystery, if there is one at all, will never be solved. In the second part of this treatise we give serious consideration to the many currently accepted theories of why the Great Pyramid was built.

Egyptian Pyramid Construction :


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