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A Well Supported Theory about Pyramids


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#256    patrickgiles

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:23 PM

All of the Old Kingdom pyramids except Neferirkara, Neferefra, Kentkawes, Menkaura, and Djedefra were used to catch rainwater. They have almost the exact same construction style. Large roof (pyramid) surrounded by a wall, aqueduct, and cistern at the end. I will gladly debate anything you choose about Unis. Please do. Why have art in an aqueduct or cistern. Why not. All the painted carvings you mention were above the water line in the aqueduct. You should know that already since you are in the research dept. The Italians had lots of sculpture in fountains. There was only one place to build a pyramid, and that was the cliffs on the west side of the Nile. This enable the aqueduct to flow downhill. I believe the pyramids were also used a cenotaphs (symbolic burials). Here's a little climate data for you. BBC home/The Fall of the Old Kingdom/by Professor Fekri Hassan/published nov. 6 2001. As far as cultivatable land. Even if it rained 20 inches a year, the cliff area was too rocky to support good soil, such as that found next to the river. Check out the website of the Oriental Institute, and go to their research reports. Then go to 2001. Read the evidence of rain flood on the giza plateau. It may be on the section of the Giza Mapping Project. pay special attention to the Wall of the Crow. Lots of mudflows from rainwater. Lehner heads this project. That's why I mentioned him. You don't have to be a climatologists to find evidence of massive floods caused by rain. Do you? I apologize for the insult. I am becoming a little sensitive to unsubstantiated claims by Orthodox Egyptologists.


View Postkmt_sesh, on 19 November 2011 - 06:35 AM, said:

You sound like our friend Scott over in the Analyze This discussion: you get some idea in your head and focus on it to the exclusion of all other possibilities. So now Unis' pyramid complex was a rain catchment, too? Why would they even bother to decorate the masonry of the causeway with such elaborate reliefs if all it was meant to do was channel water? And what of the inscriptional material in Unis' temple, which are strictly ritual and funerary in nature? This includes one of the false doors from the mortuary temple. And one must wonder why so many family members and high-ranking courtiers would situate their tombs around the pyramid of Unis. They wanted to be buried near a rain catchment?

No, I have never been to Egypt. My counter-arguments to your theme do require that I have been there. My twenty-plus years of researching pharaonic Egypt are more than sufficient to the cause. In one of the museums where I work we have the tomb of one of Unis' highest officials, so over the years I have become very familiar with that pyramid complex. If you want to debate Unis' burial ground with me, go ahead.



I am not aware of such studies. I'm not sure why Lehner would be involved, given he's not a climatologist. I cannot discount it outright, however, so I invite you to share the full citation of the paper. I would wager your word "significant" constitutes an exaggeration, however. Were Giza that well watered, it would've become cultivatable land. And yet, from the Early Dynastic Period and down through the end of the Old Kingdom, it was a frequent site of burial for untold hundreds of people. The Egyptians rarely buried their dead in cultivatable land.



I certainly don't have the time to pour through my library to provide a bunch of quotes for something so basic. The end of the Neolithic Subpluvial is too well evidenced and understood to be ignored. As one example, however, I can cite Toby Wilkinson's explanation of desertification in Genesis of the Pharaohs (2003). On page 60 he describes how desertification was taking place "in earnest" by about the time the Great Pyramid was being built. I recall that David Wengrow's The Archaeology of Early Egypt (2006) also contains a lot of information on ancient climatological changes and their impacts on migrations and flora and fauna in the prehistoric Near East. Also consider that another well-proven climatological phenomenon, the so-called 4.2 Kiloyear Event, was devastating all of North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and up into the Hindu Kush by 2200 BCE. This widespread drought was one of the key factors in the collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Essentially, then, what you're trying to argue is that an area that was already desert became a lush, tropical paradise for a few years and then all of a sudden dried up in a way no Near Easterner had ever seen. This is why I'm skeptical. Well, one of numerous reasons, anyway.



No, I didn't miss it. I observed it and commented on it in Post 178, where I welcomed you to UM. You were suggesting that beer was the main drink of pharaonic Egypt. It was certainly a widely consumed beverage and a staple of the diet, but water still would've been the most commonly consumed drink. That's true now as it was then. And unless one had access to a well, which relatively few did, the main water source was, of course, the Nile. Paleopathological studies have demonstrated that a leading killer in pharaonic Egypt was schistosomiasis (Nunn 2002: 68-69; Filer 1995: 11-12). The parasite is carried chiefly by water snails; hence, the obvious source and transference. The disease is evident in instances of well-preserved livers and bladders and in some cases calcified ova have been found (Nunn 2002: 68). This same disease is one of the leading killers today, second to malaria, in many undeveloped countries, even as easy as it is to treat in modern times.



The Complete Pyramids is a terrific book. It should be in the library of anyone who has an interest in ancient Egypt. It is also far too basic to be a primary research source. You need to read others such as Miroslav Verner's and John Romer's, not to mention Dieter Arnold's seminal work on stone masonry in pharaonic Egypt. I would also recommend Craig Smith's book on how the Great Pyramid was built. Yet, no book written by any historian, Egyptologist, or other specialist would argue the Great Pyramid or any other such monument was built as a rain catchment. Don't expect that to happen.

You would have to explain, for example, why the temples you describe as "cisterns" and such were heavily decorated with relief carving, and fitted with statues and false doors. You would have to explain why so many thousands of officials and family members were buried in adjacent tombs contemporary to these pyramids. Et cetera.



With respect, I would avoid name calling. This is not a schoolyard and we are not children. I have called your rain-catchment idea to task, yes, but I did not ridicule you. The more you resort to such tactics, the less credible you will be. And the shorter lifespan you will have in this forum. If you wish to debate me, do so on the merits of the argument and address my points one by one with a properly corroborated and cited approach. That would be more productive, not to mention more useful of your time and my time.

In closing for now, I saw in one of your earlier posts (in a reply to cormac, I think) your mention of the Oriental Institute. This is one of the museums where I work as a volunteer. I do not claim to be a professional historian, but over the years I have spent countless hours in the Archives there. I am not aware of any holdings in the collections of the O.I.'s professional literature that would support your argument.



#257    patrickgiles

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:28 PM

The rain catchments you are looking for were probably incorporated into the roofs of their houses. Lots of cultures did this. Polished limestone gets very cold at night, and it retains this temperature for a while. If the casing stones heated up in the day, a short rainfall would cool them down. Now imagine a hard rain. No evaporation once they are cooled.

View PostOniomancer, on 20 November 2011 - 02:11 AM, said:

I was going to raise a point along these lines myself. It seems to me that given it's height and the fact that even with a reflectice stone like tura, the thing would make for a marvelous heat sink, you'd be getting a fair amount of evaporation before the rain ever reached the ground basin. And the one only covers 13 acres. The others, less, and feed into a comparitively small area. A bare fraction of the available real estate. It's be much more efficient both work expenditure wise and productivity wise to've made a "water farm" sort of arrangement of many much smaller sheltered structures over more area, to catch as much water as possible.



#258    patrickgiles

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:37 PM

Most people probably captured rainwater on the roof of their houses, which many cultures are known to have done. The pyramid water was bottled and sold to make a profit. You don't see the hills littered with rain catchments because the evidence is gone. Ancient mudbrick houses don't last long. The roof was plastered to hold water.



View PostDieChecker, on 20 November 2011 - 01:24 AM, said:

A gallon equals 231 cubic inchs, so that would be around 1000 feet by 1000 feet and assume no losses. But, even if that happened and every drop was collected, it takes 2 liters just to survive, and 4 liters if physical activity is required. So assuming there was construction (Other pyramids) at Giza for 50 more years, then they'd need 30,000+ people. So just these people alone would require 120,000 liters a day. A gallon is 3.8 liters, so that 600,000 gallons would last 19 days. If we assume that they caught all 4 inches that we suspect they got and that there were only 10000 people building the complex, then we get 228 days, still not even enough for 10,000 people for a full year.

If it worked so well, we'd see all the hills around the Nile littered with these rain capturing enclosures, and the fact we don't would indicate that this theory is either untrue, or that the water was not just for regular consumption.



#259    patrickgiles

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:46 PM

You forgot to mention the sealed but empty sarcophagi found in Sekhemkets pyramid as well as the one at Zawiyet el'Aryan. Human remains can be contested, of course. They probably represent intrusive burials from the Middle Kingdom, though. Also, you failed to mention that in most pyramids, nothing resembling a fragment of pottery or furniture has ever been found. Not even in the cracks of the floors. I am aware of the texts in the last few pyramids at Saqqara. As I have stated, they were for the ba spirit to read, and not the corpse. It was a cenotaph, albeit well decorated. Those inscriptions basically tell the spirit of the king what to do after the spirit leaves the tomb. Note many referenced to the ba spirit in the translations. This is the doubt you are looking for.Actually, I think you're not looking.




View Postkmt_sesh, on 20 November 2011 - 04:57 AM, said:

This comment was directed at Harte but I'd like to chime in. Your criteria of "all the Old Kingdom pyramids" gives us some nice leeway. Most scholars are in agreement that the human remains found in the burial chamber of the Step Pyramid are those of Djoser (1). The same is true for the human remains found in the burial chamber of the pyramid of Unis (2). I grant that most human remains found in other Old Kingdom pyramids are contested and believed to be from later, secondary burials, so I won't count them. We can also add sarcophagi to the list, whether or not you like them, and this alone would exceed your minimum of ten items. But let's move on.

Moreover, there are the Pyramid Texts inscribed into the chambers and corridors of the pyramids of Unis (3), Teti (4), Pepi I (5), Merenre (6), Pepi II (7), Queen Neith (8), and the pyramid of Queen Behenu (9), a secondary wife of Pepi II, whose inscribed burial chamber was found only several years ago in Saqqara. The Pyramid Texts were inscribed and addressed to each royal specifically and thus were made unique for each. Their funerary nature, many references to the place of burial, the burial chamber, burial equipment, and standard royal burial rituals of that period leave no doubt as to their intent and purpose. I would suggest consulting the translations conducted by Raymond Faulkner and especially those published by James Allen.

Then there are the Abusir papyri, found at the complexes of Neferirkare (10) and Neferefre (11). These papyri are critical for our understanding of the roles and functions of royal mortuary priests who worked in pyramid complexes for the cults of kings in the late Old Kingdom.

So in a couple of minutes of typing, and working just from memory, I was able to provide not ten but eleven examples demonstrating the mortuary roles of Old Kingdom pyramids. I imagine I could considerably expand this list were I interested in digging through my library for more examples, but I am not particularly interested at the moment. The above is sufficient and answers your challenge. However, should other posters have further examples, I'd be interested in seeing them, too.



You cannot ignore sarcophagi, as though somehow they can be removed from the list of evidence. They have to be addressed, observed, and understood for what they are and for why the Egyptians built them. I've already addressed this issue with cladking in Post 277 in the Analyze This discussion, so I needn't repeat myself. The question has been answered and the link is there to corroborate my argument. Suffice it to say, sarcophagi in not just royal tombs but numerous private tombs, some containing human remains, make it obvious what they were for.



You might have shot yourself in the foot with this example. Yes, Hetepheres' sarcophagus in the shaft tomb did not contain her body, but you neglected to mention her canopic chest. It was found intact in the burial, and contained three of four of her eviscerated and mummified internal organs (Ikram & Dodson 1998: 110). The fourth did not survive. Her canopic chest is a widely known fact because it stands to this day as the oldest definitive evidence for the removal of internal organs in the mummification process.

In citing Hetepheres' sarcophagus, you probably should also have mentioned the fact that most Egyptologists are in agreement that her shaft burial at Giza is a secondary burial. Her original burial site is unknown but Meidum is widely argued; other family members of Sneferu were buried there. It's obvious the burial at Giza was secondary because everything about it was covert, as though a deliberate attempt was made to hide her burial equipment. It stands to reason her original tomb was thoroughly raided and her body perhaps destroyed; hence, the empty sarcophagus at Giza. Her shaft burial there was found entirely by accident.

  

Harte is not Zahi Hawass. Nor am I. I don't consider Hawass a primary source for my own research in most cases, but aside from the bizarre and sometimes inappropriate things he has said in public interviews, his body of written work is solid and has contributed a lot to our knowledge of Giza and its monuments. A simple book he wrote is Mountains of the Pharaohs (2006) but I like it because the book contains more details than most other written material on the nature of the relief carvings and inscriptions of Khufu's temple structures. These reliefs and inscriptions are strictly funerary in nature, and make it clear the entire complex existed for the cult of the dead king.



Some kings did make cenotaphs, although I am not aware off the top of my head of any definitive examples that predate the Middle Kingdom. If I am wrong, feel free to direct me to the proper information. But if the mortuary temple was used to collect water, why did they go through the time and expense to carve the reliefs and inscriptions on its walls? Why did they equip the mortuary temple with numerous chambers, not to mention a columned courtyard? Any why did they go through the time and expense to go to other quarries to cut a costly stone like basalt to pave the floor of the temple? This all seems like a hell of a lot of work for a purely utilitarian and prosaic giant stone bucket.



#260    patrickgiles

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:48 PM

View Postpatrickgiles, on 20 November 2011 - 01:46 PM, said:

You forgot to mention the sealed but empty sarcophagi found in Sekhemkets pyramid as well as the one at Zawiyet el'Aryan. Human remains can be contested, of course. They probably represent intrusive burials from the Middle Kingdom, though. Also, you failed to mention that in most pyramids, nothing resembling a fragment of pottery or furniture has ever been found. Not even in the cracks of the floors. I am aware of the texts in the last few pyramids at Saqqara. As I have stated, they were for the ba spirit to read, and not the corpse. It was a cenotaph, albeit well decorated. Those inscriptions basically tell the spirit of the king what to do after the spirit leaves the tomb. Note many referenced to the ba spirit in the translations. This is the doubt you are looking for.Actually, I think you're not looking. The basalt floors you mention were the most water resistant stone besides granite. Basalt can be finely cut, so that it can be used as pavement for holding water. Look, the pyramids were meant to last forever, so that they would continue to catch rainwater forever. That's what all the trouble was for.








#261    patrickgiles

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 01:51 PM

Tomb robbers must have used a vacuum cleaner because there are no fragments of anything in the cracks of the stones. It couldn't have all disappeared. Come on.  They were cenotaphs for the ba spirit probably.


View PostDieChecker, on 20 November 2011 - 01:50 AM, said:

It's called Tomb Robbers. I beleive all the pyramids were broken into and looted at some point, before modern archeology was developed.


There is an Open Sarcophagus in Khufu's pyramid. It clearly is a sarcophagus and damaged by looters also.
Posted Image


Or, more appropriately and true, the lack of items indicates Looters.


http://en.wikipedia....Pyramid_of_Giza



#262    docyabut2

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 02:05 PM

I d have to agree with you Patrick, why would the pyramids be rain collecters, when they were tombs to keep the kings mummies dry.I feel thats why king Khufu`s had his pyramid built different with shafts.

Edited by docyabut2, 20 November 2011 - 02:07 PM.


#263    Englishgent

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 04:11 PM

View Postpatrickgiles, on 20 November 2011 - 12:35 PM, said:

I cannot support this contention. It just seems like the most logical way to build something. The wall would be in the way of construction. What ramps are you referring to? There is absolutely not evidence for large ramps at any of the pyramid sites. If you know of one, please tell me.


Look at any modern buildings. Do you see evidence of scaffolding?   No, you dont.
Like I said in a previous post, the Egyptians are higly unlikely to leave any evidence of ramps (if indeed this was how they were made).
All this crap about lack of evidence of ramps is a non-starter as far as I am concerned.


#264    cladking

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 04:45 PM

Goodness!  It looks like I have my work cut out for me on "your" thread.  ...later...

View Postpatrickgiles, on 20 November 2011 - 12:35 PM, said:

I cannot support this contention. It just seems like the most logical way to build something. The wall would be in the way of construction. What ramps are you referring to? There is absolutely not evidence for large ramps at any of the pyramid sites. If you know of one, please tell me.

Egyptologists believe the walls were last because they needed to
remove the ramps first.  Everything starts and ends with ramps in
orthodox thought and the lack of evidence for them doesn't affect
this calculation.  "They mustta used ramps".  

I agree with you that the wall was most probably in the way of
construction but I believe the water catchment was far too impor-
tant to interrupt to build the pyramid.  Water catchment was the
most important single reason they even built here.  But these walls
were hardly insurmountable.  The stone had to go up onto the pyra-
mid anyway.  Any device that was built was simply designed so the
stones moved over the walls. Almost no efficiency was lost.  

I believe that the method of construction is intimately tied to the
existence of the water catchment device.  Without the water they
could not have even built the pyramids at all.  You came to this de-
vice directly and I came through the back door.

Men fear the pyramid, time fears man.

#265    Oniomancer

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 05:11 PM

View Postdocyabut2, on 20 November 2011 - 12:35 PM, said:

When the Great Pyramid was first opened, incrustations of salt an inch thick were found inside.
You know, I keep seeing statements to this effect but I have yet to see a source citation from anybody.
I can't even find an original account of Al-Mamun's initial penetration of the pyramid online.
Anybody? Anybody? Kmt? Bueller?


Quote

While much of this salt is known to be natural exudation from the stones of the pyramid, chemical analysis has shown that some of the salt has a mineral content consistent with salt from the sea. These salt incrustations, found at a height corresponding to the water level marks left on the exterior, are further evidence that at some time in the distant past the pyramid was submerged halfway up its height
Uh-huh, and how did that salt get in the rock in the first place? You do know that limestone forms underwater and that the whole of Egypt was once part of a prehistoric ocean, right?

See my discussion on this with clad over in the other pyramid thread too. Salt erosion on the lower courses
is consistent with recent pollution damage as seen on structures in cairo post-dating the pyramids to the first millennium AD.

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#266    questionmark

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 05:26 PM

View PostOniomancer, on 20 November 2011 - 05:11 PM, said:

You know, I keep seeing statements to this effect but I have yet to see a source citation from anybody.
I can't even find an original account of Al-Mamun's initial penetration of the pyramid online.
Anybody? Anybody? Kmt? Bueller?


There is a full translation of the account in Popular Science monthly, Volume 165 (1954). But I fail to find a mention to rock salt.





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#267    Oniomancer

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 05:32 PM

View Postpatrickgiles, on 20 November 2011 - 01:28 PM, said:

The rain catchments you are looking for were probably incorporated into the roofs of their houses. Lots of cultures did this.
You're only reinforcing my view. It would be much simpler to build a multitude of these systems in series then to waste time, energy and resources on a few larger, much less efficient structures. Or maybe you've uncovered the earliest known instance of a porkbarrel economics boondoggle.

Quote

Polished limestone gets very cold at night, and it retains this temperature for a while. If the casing stones heated up in the day, a short rainfall would cool them down. Now imagine a hard rain. No evaporation once they are cooled.
It takes it a while for it to cool down to, especially that much mass, and if they're radiating or reflecting heat, they're raising the local air temp significantly. And don't forget about wind evaporation. It doesn't make sense to build a watertrap at height and leave the basin open to the air in a shallow, exposed containment next to it where losses from solar heating and wind would be further accelerated.

Edited by Oniomancer, 20 November 2011 - 05:38 PM.

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#268    cladking

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 07:05 PM

View PostOniomancer, on 20 November 2011 - 05:11 PM, said:

You know, I keep seeing statements to this effect but I have yet to see a source citation from anybody.
I can't even find an original account of Al-Mamun's initial penetration of the pyramid online.
Anybody? Anybody? Kmt? Bueller?

It might be in the back of this book.  I'll check later probably since
there are a couple other things I want to relocate as well.

http://books.google.... though&f=false

Quote

Uh-huh, and how did that salt get in the rock in the first place? You do know that limestone forms underwater and that the whole of Egypt was once part of a prehistoric ocean, right?

You do know that sea water is mostly water and limestone is mostly stone.

I doubt limestone has any way to concentrate salt in it.

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#269    docyabut2

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 07:13 PM

Herodutas

Chephren imitated the conduct of his predecessor, and, like him, built a pyramid, which did not, however, equal the dimensions of his brother's. Of this I am certain, for I measured them both myself. It has no subterraneous apartments, nor any canal from the Nile to supply it with water, as the other pyramid has. In that, the Nile water, introduced through an artificial duct, surrounds an island, where the body of Cheops is said to lie. Chephren built his pyramid close to the great pyramid of Cheops, and of the same dimensions, except that he lowered the height forty feet.


Even Herodutas said there were water canals built for the frist pyramid of Cheops to bring the water from the nile.What other purpose then to ship the big stones in and is why the pyramid was flooded.


#270    cladking

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Posted 20 November 2011 - 07:19 PM

View PostEnglishgent, on 20 November 2011 - 04:11 PM, said:

(if indeed this was how they were made).

All this crap about lack of evidence of ramps is a non-starter as far as I am concerned.


Not  at all.  Orthodoxy proposes that the largest ramp ever built by man
was somehow laid up against this pyramid and many millions of men dragged
stones up it and then walked back down.  They are proposing this despite
the fact that there are no ramp builders known to have existed and not a
single man who dragged stone.  Many of the jobs are known but not one in-
dicative of ramps or a muscle based system. Instead they leave the absense
of ramps as proof they mustta used ramps.  

The evidence that they did not use ramps is complete.  Ramps could not have
left the vertical lines visible in the great pyramids.  Ramps fly in the
face of common sense which dictates that the largest lifting project in hu-
man history should have used an efficient means of lifting the stone.

Incredibly there isn't one single known usage of the word "ramp" from the
great pyramid building age that applies as a means to lift objects! Still
Egyptologists insist on ramps.  They implying that these people were simply
too stupid to devise any other means of lifting than the most inefficient.  

The stones moved straight up the side and this is the only supported argu-
ment until someone gets out there and disproves it.  This is a fact.  It
doesn't matter that the support falls short of being conclusive because ramps
are supported by nothing but air.  This isn't even an arguable point but I'd
be happy to lay out the extensive evidence that stones moved up the side or
the more extensive evidence that ramps never existed as a means to lift stone.
This battle has already been lost by orthodoxy whether they choose to admit
the fact or not.  If they try to prove me wrong they'll end up only proving
I'm right.

Men fear the pyramid, time fears man.




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