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Mark Cruz
Mark Cruz

A History Of Ancient Egypt: From The Great Pyra...



Absolute calendar dates are derived from an interlocked network of evidence, the backbone of which are the lines of succession known from ancient king lists and other texts. The reign lengths from Khufu to known points in the earlier past are summated, bolstered with genealogical data, astronomical observations, and other sources. As such, the historical chronology of Egypt is primarily a political chronology, thus independent from other types of archaeological evidence like stratigraphies, material culture, or radiocarbon dating.




A history of ancient Egypt: From the Great Pyra...



The ancient Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, is one of the first major authors to mention the pyramid. In the second book of his work The Histories, he discusses the history of Egypt and the Great Pyramid. This report was created more than 2000 years after the structure was built, meaning that Herodotus obtained his knowledge mainly from a variety of indirect sources, including officials and priests of low rank, local Egyptians, Greek immigrants, and Herodotus's own interpreters. Accordingly, his explanations present themselves as a mixture of comprehensible descriptions, personal descriptions, erroneous reports, and fantastical legends; as a result, many of the speculative errors and confusions about the monument can be traced back to Herodotus and his work.[44][45]


Between 60 and 56 BC, the ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus visited Egypt and later dedicated the first book of his Bibliotheca historica to the land, its history, and its monuments, including the Great Pyramid. Diodorus's work was inspired by historians of the past, but he also distanced himself from Herodotus, who Diodorus claims tells marvelous tales and myths.[53] Diodorus presumably drew his knowledge from the lost work of Hecataeus of Abdera,[54] and like Herodotus, he also places the builder of the pyramid, "Chemmis,"[55] after Ramses III.[46] According to his report, neither Chemmis (Khufu) nor Cephren (Khafre) were buried in their pyramids, but rather in secret places, for fear that the people ostensibly forced to build the structures would seek out the bodies for revenge.[56] With this assertion, Diodorus strengthened the connection between pyramid building and slavery.[57]


Another enduring theory regarding the monument's construction is that it was built on the backs of slaves. Contrary to the popular opinion that Egyptian monuments in general, and the Great Pyramid in particular, were built using Hebrew slave labor, the pyramids of Giza and all other temples and monuments in the country were constructed by Egyptians who were hired for their skills and compensated for their efforts. No evidence of any kind whatsoever - from any era of Egypt's history - supports the narrative events described in the biblical Book of Exodus.


Worker's housing at Giza was discovered and fully documented in 1979 by Egyptologists Lehner and Hawass but, even before this evidence came to light, ancient Egyptian documentation substantiated payment to Egyptian workers for state-sponsored monuments while offering no evidence of forced labor by a slave population of any particular ethnic group. Egyptians from all over the country worked on the monument, for a variety of reasons, to build an eternal home for their king which would last through eternity.


Khufu seems to have set to work on building his grand tomb shortly after coming to power. The rulers of the Old Kingdom governed from the city of Memphis and the nearby necropolis of Saqqara was already dominated by Djoser's pyramid complex while other sites such as Dashur had been used by Sneferu. An older necropolis, however, was also close by and this was Giza. Khufu's mother, Hetepheres I (l.c. 2566 BCE), was buried there and there were no other great monuments to compete for attention close by; so Khufu chose Giza as the site for his pyramid.


The first step in constructing a pyramid, after deciding upon the best location, was organizing the crews and allocating resources and this was the job of the second-most powerful man in Egypt, the vizier. Khufu's vizier was Hemiunu, his nephew, credited with the design and building of the Great Pyramid. Hemiunu's father, Nefermaat (Khufu's brother) had been Sneferu's vizier in his pyramid-building projects and it is probable he learned a great deal about construction from these experiences.


Great Pyramid of Giza, ReconstructedNeoMam Studios (CC BY-SA)The vizier was the final architect of any building project and had to delegate responsibility for materials, transport, labor, payments and any other aspect of the work. Written receipts, letters, diary entries, official reports to and from the palace all make clear that a great building project was accomplished at Giza under Khufu's reign but not one of these pieces of evidence suggest exactly how the pyramid was created. The technological skill evident in the creation of the Great Pyramid still mystifies scholars, and others, in the present day. Egyptologists Bob Brier and Hoyt Hobbs comment on this:


Because of their immense size, building pyramids posed special problems of both organization and engineering. Constructing the Great Pyramid of the pharaoh Khufu, for example, required that more than two million blocks weighing from two to more than sixty tons be formed into a structure covering two football fields and rising in a perfect pyramidal shape 480 feet into the sky. Its construction involved vast numbers of workers which, in turn, presented complex logistical problems concerning food, shelter, and organization. Millions of heavy stone blocks needed not only to be quarried and raised to great heights but also set together with precision in order to create the desired shape. (217)


Once the interior was completed, the whole of the pyramid was covered in white limestone which would have shone brilliantly and been visible from every direction for miles around the site. As impressive as the Great Pyramid is today, one must recognize that it is a monument in ruin as the limestone long ago fell away and was utilized as building material for the city of Cairo (just as the nearby city of ancient Memphis was).


The yearly inundation of the Nile River was essential for the livelihood of the Egyptians in that it deposited rich soil from the riverbed all across the farmlands of the shore; it also, however, made farming those lands an impossibility during the time of the flood. During these periods, the government provided work for the farmers through labor on their great monuments. These were the people who did the actual, physical, work in moving the stones, raising the obelisks, building the temples, creating the pyramids which continue to fascinate and inspire people in the present day.


It is a disservice to their efforts and their memory, not to mention the grand culture of the Egyptians, to continue to insist that these structures were created by poorly treated slaves who were forced into their condition because of ethnicity. The biblical Book of Exodus is a cultural myth purposefully created to distinguish one group of people living in the land of Canaan from others and should not be regarded as history.


Tombs which have been excavated throughout Egypt, from the most modest to the rich example of Tutankhamun's - along with other physical evidence - make clear the ancient Egyptian belief in a life after death and the concern for the soul's welfare in this new world. Grave goods were always placed in the tomb of the deceased as well as, in wealthier tombs, inscriptions and paintings on the walls (known as the Pyramid Texts, in some cases). The Great Pyramid is simply the grandest form of one of these tombs.


Arguments against the Great Pyramid as a tomb cite the fact that no mummies or grave goods have ever been found inside. This argument willfully ignores the plentiful evidence of grave robbing from ancient times to the present. Egyptologists from the 19th century onwards have recognized that the Great Pyramid was looted in antiquity and, most likely, during the time of the New Kingdom (c. 1570-1069 BCE) when the Giza necropolis was replaced by the area now known as The Valley of the Kings near Thebes.


This is not to suggest that Giza was forgotten, there is ample evidence of New Kingdom pharaohs such as Ramesses the Great (r. 1279-1213 BCE) taking great interest in the site. Rameses II had a small temple built at Giza in front of the Sphinx as a token of honor and it was Rameses II's fourth son, Khaemweset, who devoted himself to preserving the site. Khaemweset never ruled Egypt but was a crown prince whose efforts to restore the monuments of the past are well documented. He is, in fact, considered the world's "first Egyptologist" for his work in restoration, preservation, and recording of ancient monuments and especially for his work at Giza.


Excavations of the shaft and the chambers have recovered artifacts dating from the Old Kingdom through the Third Intermediate Period but no tunnels branching out beneath the plateau. Osiris, as lord of the dead, would certainly have been honored at Giza and underground chambers recognizing him as ruler in the afterlife were not uncommon throughout Egypt's history.


Flinders Petrie was obviously interested in exploring every nuance of the Great Pyramid but not at the expense of the monument itself. His excavations were performed with great care in an effort to preserve the historical authenticity of the work he was examining. Although this may seem a common sense approach in the modern day, many European explorers before Flinders Petrie, archaeologists professional and amateur, brushed aside any concerns of preservation in pursuing their goal of unearthing ancient treasure troves and bringing antiquities back to their patrons. Flinders Petrie established the protocol regarding ancient monuments in Egypt which is still adhered to in the present day. His vision inspired those who came after him and it is largely due to his efforts that people today can still admire and appreciate the monument known as the Great Pyramid of Giza. 041b061a72


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