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Posts Tagged ‘pyramid’

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Photo: Mark Brodkin Photography/ Getty Images
After archaeologists found steps and postholes on either side of a ramp, they concluded the pyramid builders were able to haul from both directions, shortening the time to complete construction.

What were you taught in school about how the pyramids in Egypt were constructed? The story has always been partly guesswork, like the story of Stonehenge and the giant statues on Easter Island, narratives that change as new bits of data are uncovered.

Kevin Rawlinson writes at the Guardian, “The mystery of how, exactly, the pyramids were built may have come a step closer to being unravelled after a team of archaeologists made a chance discovery in an ancient Egyptian quarry.

“Scientists researching ancient inscriptions happened upon a ramp with stairways and a series of what they believe to be postholes, which suggest that the job of hauling into place the huge blocks of stone used to build the monuments may have been completed more quickly than previously thought.

“While the theory that the ancient Egyptians used ramps to move the stones has already been put forward, the structure found by the Anglo-French team, which dated from about the period that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built, is significantly steeper than was previously supposed possible.

“They believe the inclusion of the steps and the postholes either side of a rampway suggests the builders were able to haul from both directions, rather than simply dragging a block behind them. The team believes those below the block would have used the posts to create a pulley system while those above it pulled simultaneously. …

“Dr Roland Enmarch, a senior lecturer in Egyptology at the University of Liverpool and the co-director of the project that made the discovery, the Hatnub Survey, … told the Guardian that … the alabaster quarry itself, as well as the inscriptions they were there to study, had been known to Egyptologists for a long time, having first been found by Howard Carter – the discoverer of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

“His team’s original focus was not on the ramp leading down into the quarry, but on properly documenting the inscriptions found there. But their attention was soon drawn to the former’s construction – and what it could tell them about how pyramids were built.

“They said the inscriptions allowed them to date the ramp to around the time of the Pharoah Khufu, or Cheops, who built the Great Pyramid.” More here.

It’s amazing how archaeologists keep deepening our knowledge of the past. At the same time, the use of slave labor in building these monuments remains almost too painful to think about. And it reminds me that although slavery is no longer accepted as normal, we still face huge challenges to obliterate it.

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ArtsJournal recently highlighted this article from the Guardian about the pyramids.

“Egypt never seems to stop revealing its ancient wonders and mysteries,” writes Jonathan Jones. “Now, it seems we may be on edge of new discoveries as marvellous as when Howard Carter opened the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. …

“The dazzle of Tutankhamun’s gold probably satisfied the tomb’s discoverers – and besides, it has taken 21st-century technology to find the new mystery: traces of what may be well-hidden and still unopened chambers behind the tomb of the boy king.

“Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves believes – controversially – that the hidden space may be the lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti, who may have been young Tut’s mother. If Reeves is right, the sands of Egypt could be about to yield one of their greatest secrets – something epochal.

“And that’s not all. Archaeologists scanning the pyramids at Giza have found ‘thermal anomalies’ that may also reveal hidden chambers, including one deep within the Great Pyramid. So the pyramids too (which are considerably older than the tombs of Tutankhamun and, perhaps, his mother) are apparently still full of marvels ready to be uncovered.”

More here.

Photo: Hassan Ammar/AP  
The pyramids of Giza.

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