Blog Post 1: Egypt

This week in Great Discoveries has been very interesting to me as it has involved learning about the Pyramids and Egypt. I have always been fascinated with ancient Egypt and the timing of these lectures is very good because my brother is taking a class that just covered the people of ancient Egypt. What I think is so amazing is that the Egyptians not only built these incredible structures thousands and thousands of years ago, but they also built their empire out in the desert. I cannot imagine how tiring it must have been to work in such harsh conditions. It is truly incredible to think that they were able to build the pyramids and other monuments at the same time when their civilizations had to hug the Nile River in order to have enough water to grow crops.

Another very interesting topic we have covered is everything having to do with Egyptomania. One cool thing about history and archaeology is that you can see how different civilizations and cultures evolved. It is fun to look at the different theories in this way and to see how they each have evolved. It is fascinating to see how each theorist built off of early ideas and then how they added their own flare to the idea. I like to look at each wacky theory and find the pieces that make a little bit of sense and the bits that are just completely ridiculous. It seems like even the most outrageous claim starts with an idea that actually makes a little bit of sense and then it just explodes into absolute ridiculousness from there. For example the belief that the sphinx was much older than archaeologists say it is. Two of the men who make this claim, John West and Dr. Robert Schoch, observed the strange erosion patterns on the rock of the west wall of the sphinx enclosure. They were surprised because the annual fall of rain during the time the sphinx was created shouldn’t be enough to cause the erosion. These two make an actual interesting and puzzling observation, but instead of gathering more data or just leaving it at that, they go on to make the claim that the only explanation is that the sphinx is actually at least twelve thousand years old. I feel like this is the case with so many of the claims that are so out-there. It is like they almost had a good idea, but instead of letting it be a small discovery they try to turn it into a huge convoluted breakthrough, that while amusing is not very scientific at all.

One thought on “Blog Post 1: Egypt

  1. I found the ideas surrounding the pyramids to be absolutely fascinating as well- additionally I thought they were hysterically funny! I looked up a couple more theories online, and I found an article on that was very amusing, called “10 Bizarre Theories about the Pyramids that DON’T Involve Aliens”.

    A few of the theories we’d already heard of- like number one was “The Pyramids were built to store Grain” by Joseph, and also the ridiculous claims that Atlantis built the Pyramids, the Pyramids were used as a power source, or that Noah built the Pyramids. (Here I’d like to present a quote by the American Metrological Society, which was skeptical about Noah. “There seems to be something bordering on the ludicrous in the ascription to a man situated as Noah was at that time—a man just escaped from a catastrophe so frightful as the destruction of the whole human race…to begin anew the battle of life amid the wreck of a ruined world a project so wild, so almost stupidly idiotic, as that of heaping up a pile of massive rock a million and a half cubic yards in volume.”) But I’d like to share some of the other ideas with you, and hopefully you’ll find them as amusing as I did!

    One of the ideas was that the pyramids foretold the date of the Apocalypse. Our friend Charles Piazzi Smyth “discovered” the date by measuring the Grand Gallery in “Pyramid Inches”, which seemingly showed the complete chronology of Earth’s history… both past and future. For instance, The Grand Gallery began, and 33 pyramid inches later, you had the Crucifixion. The Grand Gallery measured between 1881 and 1911 pyramid inches, so some people got carried away and predicted that in 1881, the world was going to end. Sounds suspiciously similar to the 2012 scare…

    Joseph T. Rutherford was determined to put an end to “Christian Pyramidology”, so here wrote an article claiming that Satan erected the Pyramids, and he suggests that we all abandon our interest in the Pyramids and ask forgiveness from God- turning to follow his commandments in haste.

    October, 1884, an article appeared in the Fort-Wayne Journal Gazette that claimed the Pyramids were carved out from isolated hills. The article claimed that there were some hills, and the rulers of Egypt cut into these pyramids and used them as quarries, leaving them as giant monuments as we now see them.

    Ridiculously, there is a crazy “theory” going around that the Jews are trying to claim the Pyramids for themselves- a weird sort of argument that continues today, where some people are trying to sue Israel for the ten deadly plagues that came to Egypt during the time of Moses, and some are trying to sue all Jews in the World over gold that was stolen during the Exodus from Egypt.

    Of course, we couldn’t escape without a few inputs from astronomers, who claimed that the three pyramids match where the stars of Orion were in 10,500 BC. However, this claim was disproved when an archaeoastronomer Ed Krupp pointed out that when you look at the comparative images between the Pyramids and Orion’s Belt, the images of the belt all have North pointing up, and the images of the Pyramids have North pointing down. They literally flipped all of Egypt over! Insanity!

    Lastly, and most ridiculously, there are some who believe that levitation was used to build the pyramids. It is said that they could strike the stones which instilled some sort of “sustained vibration” that caused the blocks to rise up and defy gravity to travel for a distance (about 86.5 meters). I think we can all see the problems with this idea.

    I feel like the list goes on and on- it feels like thousands of people, those with a formal education and not, have been tricked by the intrigue surrounding the Pyramids. Of course, some questions have no answer yet, but it seems ridiculous to me to take random guesses about what happened using data that you made up! I agree with you- they are fun to read, but it’s unfortunate that people take them seriously!

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