Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's the Mystery about the Pyramids of Giza ?

Pyramids always got this powerful exotic-theories magnet, we always see them as something beyond our explanation, what makes them attract all this kind of attention from both archaeologist and paranormal researchers ?

Ancient Egyptians believed that after mortal death the soul or spirit would continue its life in another dimension. They buried their Pharaoh kings, whom they regarded as "living Gods", with all the treasures and objects needed to survive in comfort in the afterlife. They also embalmed their bodies to ensure that their mortal remains would be mummified and preserved for whatever fate awaited them. Crucially, they built impressive burial structures to demonstrate the dead person’s importance and to aid their ascendancy to the next dimension in the heavens.

The most famous and enigmatic of these buildings are Egypt’s pyramids, and the most mystical of all these is the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza west of Cairo. However, many people question whether the structure really is just a simple, yet awesome, tomb or whether the design holds one of the great secrets of civilization.

The pyramids were built between 2800BC and 2200 BC, the first one was built by King Zoser in Saqqara near Memphis. Although the structure was created with six stepped levels, and is not quite pyramid as such, it was the first building designed exclusively to house the property and remains of the king. In the following centuries King Seneferu built his own three pyramids. One at Maidum was called the ‘False Pyramid’ because it was canceled while building it due to a structural weakness. One at Dahshur known as the ‘Bent Pyramid’ because of another design problem which meant the gradient of its sides had to be reduced as it was constructed. The final one, called the‘Northern Pyramid of Seneferu’, was built close to the ‘Bent Pyramid’, and is recognized as the first true pyramid.

The most impressive structure, however,was completed around 2500 BC for King Cheops at a site in Giza, ten miles south of the city we now know as Cairo. Using an estimated 4000 builders, and tens of thousands more manual labourers, the ‘GreatPyramid’ stands 481 feet high. It is believed it may have taken up to 30 years to quarry and assemble the two and a half millionblocks of limestone, which weigh a total of a massive six million tonnes. The base of the pyramid covers an area just over 30 acres.

It appears that great care was lavished on Cheops’ structure, and although later pyramids were built for King Chephren and King Mycerinus alongside, neither is of the same quality. Certainly, there are many fascinating aspects of the Great Pyramid’s design.

Its sides run perfectly north to south and east to west to within a tenth of a degree. The base is an almost exact square, with an error margin of just seven inches, whilst the pavement around the structure is level to within an inch.

Unlike other pyramids, this one houses a great number of chambers and corridors, with the lengthy 345 feet long Ascending Passageway running directly toward north. It had been widely assumed that the pyramid stood as a great monument to hold the body and treasures of King Cheops, although when the structure was first opened by Caliph Abdullah al Mamun in AD 820 nothing was found inside. Al Mamun discovered the King’s Chamber blocked by three huge granite plugs, which he and his men circumvented. But when they arrived in the great room, there simply stood an empty stone sarcophagus.

The mystery of what had happened to the pyramid after its completion, if its assumed use is correct, has continued to this day. In the absence of real evidence of burial ceremonies in the structure, many fantastic other theories have grown. Some people believe it was built by God either as a stone version of the Bible, or as a record containing references to all events past, present and future. They believe that the various passage ways represent historical time-lines,and intersections between them mark great happenings. The birth of Christ and the two world wars are supposed to be signified along these routes. Some experts who advocate this theory said it also showed a Second Coming in 1881 and the end of the world in 1953.

Other mathematical studies of the Great Pyramid claims it demonstrates knowledge of the true value of pi, and was built using the 'sacred inch'.A popular theory originating in the latter part of the last century is at the Great Pyramid was constructed by alien visitors. It has been proposed that these aliens did everything from creating Mankind to erecting the pyramid as a landing beacon for their next visit to Earth.

Another well-known idea is called the "Orion Theory" and was created by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert. They believe the pyramids at Giza are an earthly representation of the three stars in the Orion Nebula. The shafts found in the Great Pyramid are supposed to correlate with important astronomical features visible at the time of the building’s construction. The Orion Theory states that the Ancient Egyptians were direct descendants of alien visitors, and retained some of their knowledge. The purpose of these important design features in their tombs was to help point the spirits of the dead back towards the stars from whence they came.

Many of these 'ancient astronaut' theories suggest the pyramids were built around10,000 years ago, rather than the 5,000 supported by historians. Other theories state that the instigating race may not have been aliens, but a now-lost civilization. One writer, Edgar Cayce, was convinced the pyramids were built around 10,000 BC by travelers from "Atlantis". However, his assertion that the Atlanteans also recorded the Second Coming of Christ in 1998 in the design of the pyramid, is some what flawed.

Some theories even suggest that our conception of the chronology of the pyramids is wrong. Some people believe the build quality of the pyramids actually deteriorated, rather than improving, as the initial knowledge brought by the instigating race was lost over time. Although the Great Pyramid has been explored and studied more than any other ancient structure in Egypt, new discoveries are constantly being made.

In 1954 a previously unknown sealed pit was found on the south side, containing a 140 ft long cedar boat, which may have been buried to help the king travel to the after-life.

Multiple exploration made by the Egyptian government to uncover the secrets of the pyramids as well as its surrounding grounds, but still the mystery of the great Pyramid at Giza is as unknown today as when Caliph Abdullah al Mamun first reopened it over a millennium ago.

The Pyramid Builders

The man in charge of building the pyramid complex of Djoser was an official named Imhotep. At this period, literacy was mainly confined to such officials and their households. Many of these officials served as part-time priests in the cult places of deities and deceased kings. 16 Imhotep, who was a priest of the sun god at Heliopolis, was later credited with writing a book of wisdom. This earned him a place as the first of Egypt's great sages and eventual deification(see "Deities, Themes, and Concepts").
The tradition may reflect an actual advance in the uses of writing at this period. The development of long, connected texts only seems to have taken place in Egypt centuries after the introduction of writing. An incomplete naos (inner shrine) from Heliopolis that dates to Djoser's reign is carved with some of the earliest known integrated texts and reliefs. The images of the gods shown in the carvings on the naos are accompanied by short speeches saying what they will do for the king. 

These images may be the oldest surviving representation of the Ennead of Heliopolis, a group of nine deities that was very important in the creation myths recorded in later times. Some of these myths could already have been current, but whether they were written down or existed only in oral form is not clear. A type of religious text that does seem to have developed in this period was the topographical list. 17 This listed deities according to their cult places and summarized their functions and qualities with epithets.

Some epithets, such as Horus, "protector of his father," suggest the existence of a story behind them. In the Fourth Dynasty the king's role was redefined as being "'the son of Ra," the deputy of the sun god on earth. Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, was one of Egypt's greatest builders. Three pyramids were completed in his reign, each with two temples for the funerary cult of the king. Later literary tradition was favorable to 'Sneferu' but not to his successor Khufu (Cheops), the builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza (see under "Kings and Princes" and "Magicians" in "Deities, Themes, and Concepts"). Writing in the fifth century BCE, the Greek historian Herodotus reported a legend that King Khufu had been cursed by the gods for closing down their temples to divert resources to his pyramid. Archaeological evidence suggests an element of truth to this tradition.
Local temples seem to have received little royal support during the Fourth and Fifth Dynasties. The huge pyramid complexes of this era seem to concentrate wholly on the divinity of the king, but this is partly an accident of preservation. Reliefs and statues in the badly damaged pyramid temples did once show the king interacting with many of the deities of Egypt. Pyramid complexes have been interpreted as "resurrection machines" for the king and as models of the Egyptian cosmos, making them a kind of mythology in solid form.18 The kings of the Fifth Dynasty had smaller pyramids, but several of them built magnificent temples for the sun god.

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Ancient Egyptian creation myths tell us that when the first mound of earth emerged from the waters of chaos, the sun god was born on this patch of dry land. The Egyptians may have believed that the pyramid shape represented the primordial mound of creation called a "BenBen". Thus, the pyramid, designed to hold the mummy of the dead king, is a reminder and celebration of the creation of life. Architecturally, the pyramid shape evolved from the first mound of sand heaped over a 'Predynastic' burial. Then a mud brick structure - the "Mastaba" - was created to mark the burial of early dynastic kings. As Mastaba was stacked upon Mastaba, the step Pyramid of Zoser arose at Saqqara. Royal architects experimented and filled in the sides of a stepped pyramid, creating the first true pyramid. Today we can see the results of their early (Third Dynasty) miscalculations in the pyramid at Meidum - it collapsed because the sides were too steep. The Bent Pyramid of Dashur had to be changed halfway up, because the burial chamber inside was collapsing. Eventually the ancient architects got it right, and the first true pyramid was the Red Pyramid at Dashur. The golden age of pyramid building was the Fourth Dynasty, with the building on the Giza Plateau of the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of "Khephren", and the Pyramid of "Mycerinus". With the rising importance of the sun cult and worship of RE, Fifth Dynasty kings built small pyramids and big Sun Temples at Abusir - squat structures on a platform with a pyramidion shape on top. During the NEW KINGDOM pyramid shapes emerged again, appearing on the top of elegant obelisks as small pyramidions. A thousand years after Egypt built pyramids, the flame was rekindled in NUBIA, and today there are more pyramids in Nubia than in Egypt.

What's "inside" the great Pyramid
A side plan and outline diagram of the great pyramid's Chronograph.

Plan of the three Giza pyramid complexes and nearby tombs. From J. Baines and J. Malek, Cultural Atlas of Ancient Egypt.Oxford: Andromeda, 2000.

Ancient Egypt and Nubia Map showing the major locations, cities, trade routes and monuments of the Egyptian kingdom.

Source: 100 Strangest Mysteries book, Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt - Kathryn A. Bard,Wikipedia and sources.
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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. The mystery of the Great Pyramid is "what happened to the body" (and the sarcophagus lid, and the three blocking stones between the Grand Gallery and the King's Chamber)?


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