, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P3 ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

June 21, 2012

The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P3

Thirty years after Reisner’s find another discovery of undisturbed Old Kingdom relics was made close by. These are the two huge boat pits, adjacent to the Great Pyramid, of which only one has been opened. It contained the complete parts of a large ship which was found in the same state as when Djedefre buried it there after Khufu’s death four and a half thousand years ago. These two discoveries of untouched subterranean cavities in the rock at Giza show that the sand of the pyramid area may still hold surprises.

Ancient Egypt Pyramids
While cosmic ray investigation has shown that the bulk of the Khafre pyramid contains no hidden chamber, we know nothing, as Emery once pointed out to me, about possible chambers below the pyramids. It is, indeed, a curious fact that large subterranean galleries and magazines have been found only under the first three step pyramids, of which they formed an important feature. No such underground stores have been discovered at the Meidum structure which originally, too, was a step pyramid, or at any of the subsequent pyramids. Access to the step pyramid stores was from the entrance passages and, as we have pointed out, the entrance to the Meidum pyramid deviated from the earlier pattern, even in its original stepped form. In fact the whole pyramid complex at Meidum differs from the large enclosures of the Third Dynasty, indicating a conceptual change in the structure of the royal tomb which came in with the Fourth Dynasty. We do not, of course, know whether from then onward the dead pharaoh could dispense with the thousands of stone vessels that were formerly buried with him in his stores. On the other hand it is not inconceivable that such subterranean galleries also exist under the later pyramids but that they had separate and well-concealed entrances which have as yet not been found.

Although the existence of the ascending passage in Khufu’s pyramid was revealed only when the Caliph Ma’mun’s battering rams caused the concealing roof slab to fall, the robbers of the Intermediate Period would have known of another access to the King’s chamber. They seem to have made use of it 3,000 years before the Caliph. In order to allow the escape of the workmen who had originally sealed the ascending passage from within, a narrow shaft had been constructed which connects the bottom of the Grand Gallery with the unused subterranean tomb chamber. The men who left last then allowed a prepared block of limestone to drop into its place so as to cover the entrance to the shaft from the Grand Gallery. Probably the shaft as well as the underground chamber were subsequently filled with masonry. The block concealing the top of the shaft is now missing and one might suspect that the ancient thieves removed the masonry and then ascended through the shaft into the sealed interior.

While the marauders in the long period of unrest plundered the tomb chambers of the pyramids and of the Old Kingdom mastabas very thoroughly they appear to have done little damage to the structure of the monuments. Their object was to unearth the buried treasure and, as the example of mastaba 17 at Meidum showed, they knew where to look and how to get there by the shortest route. Otherwise, the fabric of the pyramids was evidently of little interest to them.

Things unfortunately changed for the worse after order was restored throughout the country by a series of Theban princes, who, for a span of about 500 years, again held undisputed rule over the two kingdoms. This period of Egyptian history is called the ‘Middle Kingdom’ and the pharaohs of this era were powerful monarchs who, understandably, were bent on erecting impressive tombs. At first they governed the country from Thebes which thus for the first time became the capital of Egypt. There they also constructed their tombs, and one of these, that of Mentu- hotep 1, embodied a small pyramid as its central feature. After about 200 years of Theban rule the next dynasty, the Eleventh, returned to the north, establishing a new administrative capital a few miles south of Memphis. Influenced by the pyramids of the Old Kingdom in their close proximity, they decided to provide themselves also with pyramid tombs. However, they evidently did not command the strong labour force needed for large-scale quarrying which their early predecessors had at their disposal and therefore they began to re-employ the masonry of the Old Kingdom tombs.

The pharaoh Amenemhat 1, in particular, showed a superb disregard for the monuments of the past, and he used stonework much of it with relief sculpture, from the earlier tombs. It has been seriously suggested by Egyptologists that it might be worthwhile to dismantle completely Amenemhat’s pyramid at Lisht, which already is much ruined, in order to recover the Old Kingdom sculpture which it contains.

Stone robbery from ancient monuments continued for many centuries throughout the New Kingdom and archaeologists have singled out the great Pharaoh, Rameses n, as one of the main perpetrators. Even so it seems that the Giza pyramids were not seriously damaged when in the fourth century BC they were described by Herodotus. He refers to an inscription on the surface of the Khufu pyramid which shows that the outer limestone casing was then still in existence. It seems certain that this casing was eventually removed by the Muslims who used the well-polished outer blocks to build the large mosques and the city wall of Cairo.

Ancient Egyptian Pyramid :
The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P1
The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P2
The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P3
The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P4
The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P5
The Unsolved Problems about Ancient Egyptian Pyramids P6


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