Before The Pharaohs: The Evidence for Advanced Civilisation in Egypt’s Prehistory
Before The Pharaohs: The Evidence for Advanced Civilisation in Egypt’s Mysterious Prehistory
June 15, 2013 By davidjones
By EDWARD MALKOWSKI—
There is no other place on Earth like Egypt’s Giza Plateau. Anyone with even a slight interest in history and civilisation is aware of this fact. For on this plateau there stands the Great Pyramids and their sculpted guardian, the Great Sphinx.
Although there are plenty of theories, no one really knows who built the Giza Pyramids or carved the Sphinx, or when they were constructed. Any statement as to who built them, or when they were built, is pure theory. In light of all the various theories concerning these mysterious structures, I don’t think the theoretical nature of the pyramid builders can be emphasised enough.
What stands out at Giza more than anything else is not only the magnitude of the construction of the pyramids, but the internal design of the Great Pyramid; three chambers, of which one is subterranean, and their connecting passageways. The passageway that leads to the so-called King’s Chamber rises to a height of thirty-six feet! On the other hand, all other passageways were not built tall enough to accommodate the average man or woman.
There is also the unique configuration of the King’s Chamber as well as the Queen’s Chamber. Both of these contain two shafts, one on each side of the chamber. The Queen’s Chamber contains a corbelled niche built into its east wall, and the King’s Chamber’s ceiling is composed of five granite slabs stacked one atop the other. Why these chambers were constructed in this manner is unknown.
The official theory is that the pyramids were tombs, and that King Khufu kept changing his mind where his burial chamber was to be placed; thus, the reason for three chambers in the Great Pyramid. However, in comparison to typical Egyptian burial methods (the mastaba and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings), the Giza pyramids, and particularly the Great Pyramid, do not fair well within the Egyptian concept of a tomb.
The Ancient Egyptian View of the Afterlife
The Egyptians believed in an afterlife, and the tomb was an important part of that belief. As the tomb of King Tutankhamun testifies, the deceased’s chamber of internment was to be decorated with art and filled with that person’s possessions. Why they practiced this ritual was not for superstitious reasons, as one might suspect. It was practical, according to their beliefs, and aimed at preventing that person’s energy (spirit) from being re-absorbed into Nature’s spiritual force.
For the ancient Egyptians, Ba animated a living person, whereas Ka was the energy emanating from that person. Although not an exact analogy, the Ka and the Ba are what traditional Western thought might refer as spirit and soul. Another important aspect of Egyptian belief represented immortality, the ankh, depicted as the crested ibis.
The Ka, represented in art by up-stretched arms, was believed to be the part of man’s consciousness and energy (man’s spirit or inner quality) that related to the immediate world. It is the part of us connected to the physical body; where it lived, its possessions, as well as the people he or she was acquainted with. The Ka can be likened to one’s personality, which upon death is separated from the body, and naturally seeks a way to once again take form. The Ba, represented by a winged human head, or sometimes a human-faced bird, represented the part of consciousness that is immortal.
When someone passed away, it was their goal as well as the hope of the family, that the deceased’s Ka would seek a way to remain united with their Ba. To help accomplish this eternal union, the possessions of the deceased were gathered together by the family and placed in the tomb with the mummified body. Mummification prevented the body from decomposing and returning to the soil of the Earth, whereas the tomb, with the deceased’s possessions, served as a ‘home’ for the Ka. As a result, the Ka maintained its identity in the spiritual world and could seek out its Ba in order to achieve ankh, which resulted in the resurrected and glorified form of the deceased beyond the limits of an earthly realm.
Pyramids and the Concept of the Egyptian Tomb
Like the pharaonic tombs carved into the Valley of the Kings, royal mastabas built during the early dynasties – some as early as 3000 BCE – were also designed with ‘home’ in mind, as that home relates to a person’s Ka. Case in point: from the sixth dynasty, Mereruka’s mastaba was crafted in mansion-like proportion with thirty-two rooms and adorned with statues and art depicting, for example, scenes of wildlife along the Nile River.
The traits of Egyptian domestic life, so beautifully incorporated into the design of their tombs, are not found in the Giza pyramids. The Giza pyramids contain no art or hieroglyphics of any kind, very uncharacteristic of Egyptian tombs. So why is it the case that the Giza pyramids are generally considered to be tombs of fourth dynasty Pharaohs? The reason is because of an association of the Giza complex with another development ten miles south at Sakkara where the Egyptians really did build tombs as pyramids.
At Sakkara in 1881, the French Egyptologist, Gaston Maspero (1846–1916) discovered that the subterranean chamber of the Pepi I Pyramid (second ruler of the sixth dynasty) was engraved with hieroglyphics. Over the course of subsequent explorations, it was discovered that a total of five pyramids at Sakkara also contained inscriptions, from the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth dynasties of the Old Kingdom. In 1952, Dr. Samuel A.B. Mercer (1879–1969), Professor of Semitic Languages and Egyptology at the University of Toronto, published a complete English translation of “The Pyramid Texts” in a volume of the same name. According to Mercer, The Pyramid Texts contained ‘words to be spoken’ concerning funerary ritual, magical formulae, and religious hymns, as well as prayers and petitions on behalf of the deceased king.1
With the pyramids at Sakkara being confirmed as tombs the associative logic came to be that all pyramids must be tombs. Furthermore, since there are two cemeteries (mastaba fields) to the east and west of the northernmost Giza pyramid, assuming that all pyramids are tombs was a likely conclusion. However, the condition of the Sakkara pyramids – most of which are believed constructed after the Giza pyramids – poses serious problems in this logical association. Of the pyramids at Sakkara only Djoser’s ‘Step Pyramid’ is in good condition, although not really a true pyramid. (The Step Pyramid was originally a mastaba that was modified into a pyramid.) All other pyramids at Sakkara, most of which belong to the fifth and sixth dynasties are in ruins today and resemble mounds of rubble.
According to a consensus of Egyptologists, Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Sakkara was constructed during the third dynasty and was the forerunner to the fourth dynasty pyramids on the Giza Plateau. After pyramid development at Giza, for whatever reason, the focus of pyramid building shifted back to Sakkara.
The Great Pyramid – A Device
The easily observable and obvious differences in the Giza pyramids and the Sakkara pyramids, which were all supposed to have been built during the same era, are a problem. Clearly, the construction techniques, as well as materials, for the Giza pyramids were different than those at Sakkara, or else we would expect pyramids at both sites to have stood the test of time in a similar manner. They did not. The important point is why. Did the engineers and construction workers of the Old Kingdom not pass along their methods from the fourth to the fifth dynasty? It seems they did not, which is a very curious occurrence given the stability of Egyptian civilisation. It may also be the case that the fourth dynasty Egyptians did not build the Giza pyramids.
No other pyramid in Egypt (the world for that matter) is like the Giza pyramids, and in particular the Great Pyramid. Additionally, there is no direct evidence to support the claim that the Great Pyramid, or the other Giza pyramids were tombs. Nor is there any record left by its builders as to what it was for or when it was built. This creates a problem of explanation. If the Great Pyramid was not a tomb, then what was it? A mystical temple for initiation ritual, or a public works project designed to unify the country? Or, was it something else entirely? Theories are abundant, but the only theory I am aware of that covers all aspects of the Great Pyramid’s interior design, is Christopher Dunn’s theory that it was a device. According to Dunn, the Great Pyramid was a machine for producing power by converting tectonic vibration into electricity.
There are a number of reasons to accept Dunn analysis. First, he explains the interior design and all other evidence within the Great Pyramid in a cohesive manner. Second, he demonstrates the technical skills required to accomplish precision construction. Third, Dunn’s expertise and career is in the precision fabrication and manufacturing industry, which makes him uniquely qualified to express a professional opinion on the techniques and tools of the Giza pyramid builders.
The fact is, modern construction companies could not build the Great Pyramid today without first inventing specialised tools and techniques in order to deal with blocks of stone that vary in weight from ten to fifty tons. Such an endeavour would be on a magnitude equivalent to building a hydroelectric dam or a nuclear power station requiring tens of billions of dollars in resources. Although our modern economy is different than that of the ancient world, the resource required now as compared to then is the same! The stone must be quarried and moved and the workers must be paid. The fact that an extremely large amount of resources were dedicated to Giza pyramid development over a long period of time demands, in my opinion, that pyramid building was utilitarian, and not for any fourth dynasty pharaonic vanity of having the largest headstone in the world.
Prehistory – Evidence and Perspective
For me, the evidence clearly tells a very different story of early dynastic Egypt. Sometime around 3000 BCE, the establishment and growth of permanent settlements in the Lower Nile Valley led to the development of civilisation. Why Giza and the surrounding area were chosen as the focal point for early Dynastic Egypt was because ‘civilisation’ had been there before, as the three pyramids and the Great Sphinx testify. Without knowing what the pyramids were designed for, the early Egyptians also assumed they must have been tombs. As a result, they rejuvenated the Giza Plateau and turned it into a Necropolis, then expanded to Sakkara where they built tombs in pyramid form, albeit of lesser quality and not brandishing the skills the original builders of the Giza pyramids demonstrated. Pyramid building, even the smaller ones at Sakkara, was resource intense, so the Egyptians reverted to burying their nobility in the traditional mastaba.
This scenario, which calls for an earlier civilisation with advanced technical skills, poses another problem. It does not fit the standard model of history. However, the notion that an earlier civilisation existed does not rest on the Giza pyramids alone. There is also the Sphinx, which in 1991 was geologically dated to between 7,000 and 9,000 years old by the team of John Anthony West and geologist Dr. Robert Schoch. Add to that the megaliths of Nabta Playa in southwestern Egypt, which is believed to have been a star viewing diagram, according to astrophysicist Dr. Thomas Brophy, that relates not only the distance from Earth to the belt stars of Orion, but their radial velocities as well. Another ‘head scratching’ discovery is the 1260-ton foundation stones of the Baalbek temple, west of Beirut in Lebanon, one of which was left in its quarry.
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