Friday, May 22, 2009

Forgotten Knowledge of Egypt

Modern Egyptologists have theorized many ways in which the ancient Egyptians may have built things. Sometimes they even seem to be so certain of how something was done, they seem to forget or ignore the fact that they don't really know for sure. This may be due to pride, or just to be accepted among the academic community. Others may just believe it because that was the way they were taught. However, that mindset isn't really a good thing, because, as so often has been the case in history, other ideas or theories get ridiculed and pushed to the side. Let's take the pyramids at Giza for example. According to the mainstream academic Egyptologists, the pyramids were built by using ramps to pull or push the enormous stone blocks up into position. Doing it this way would have taken probably at least 20 years even with a huge crew of workers working year around year after year. While that is a possibility, we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that this was how it was done. For one thing there is much more to building the pyramid than putting the stones in place. And two, probably the main reason someone would believe that theory, is because they are unable to accept that the Egyptians may have been much more advanced than they want to believe...simply because to think otherwise would upset their established view of ancient history.

So what else is there to building a pyramid? For one, quarrying those huge stone blocks. The rock quarry was far away, and to get the stones to the Giza complex, it's suggested that the stones were floated there via the Nile. This is probably a good explanation. But one question that still arises is how the Egyptians were able to cut the stones with such precision. The Giza pyramid stones are fitted together so precisely, you wouldn't be able to stick a sheet of paper between them. One problem when trying to answer this question, is according to the established view of history during the time frame it is said the Egyptologists say the Giza Pyramids were built, copper tools were still being used. The bronze age was still a long ways off. The limestone and granite used in building the pyramids is to hard to be chiseled by copper tools. One theory is they heated the stone up and then cooled it off rapidly by pouring water on it. Doing this caused it to expand and contract, making it easier to chisel. And while that may have made it easier to chisel, it really doesn't make it easier to cut with such precision.

Other questions that should be asked is why they used such huge stone blocks, and why did they choose Giza as the location for the pyramids? Obviously it would have been much easier to use smaller blocks, and also would have been easier to build near the quarry. So why didn't they? It's hard to say why they would have wanted to use such huge stone blocks, unless they thought that the structure would last longer that way. If that is what they thought, then I guess they were correct. The Great Pyramid is not only the oldest of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it's the only one still standing after being built thousands of years ago. But if these people were using such primitive methods of building, how could they have known using such large stone blocks would be the best way? As for why they chose Giza as the location, it may be interesting to point out that the Great Pyramid is built on center of gravity of the continents. If the Egyptians were using primitive building methods, how could they have known that? And what are the odds that it is just a coincidence? Odds of it being a coincidence of pretty slim.

So what if the Egyptians were much more advanced than they are even given credit for? What if they knew some things that even we today do not know, or even understand? It's not far fetched to believe that knowledge was lost over time. One thing about the Egyptians is that their civilization seemed to appear almost out of no where. They seem to have been relatively advanced from the earliest days of recorded history. And not only that, many of the most famous monuments are from the earliest days of recorded Egyptian history. It seems that over time, their civilization declined, instead of advancing. One reason for this is probably due to a long period of drought in antiquity. The population declined and with it, possibly they heyday of Egyptian thinking and technology. Another factor could just be a lack of sufficient records. History has been known to be rewritten by some, and sometimes things get left out on purpose too. For instance, the reason finding King Tut's tomb was such a major find was because it found intact. Grave robbers hadn't ransacked it. This may be due to the fact no one knew the tomb was there, or that there was a King Tut. King Tut and his parents have been excluded from the King's list of ancient Egypt. This was probably due to him being a heretic. The Egyptians had been traditionally polytheistic, but King Tut was monotheistic. When the next dynasty of rulers came along, they did not approve of Tut's religious beliefs, and erased him from history. And he remained erased from history for a long time. And another way history is rewritten is that the conquerors write history. For example, the history we have of the Carthaginian Empire was written by the Romans...and Carthage had been their worst enemy. So their version of Carthaginian history is likely biased. And in the case of Egypt, many dynasties of rulers ruled over ancient Egypt, and many people have conquered it during different time periods. So the idea that knowledge could have been lost, is not far fetched at all.

The question to how much the ancient Egyptians really knew is hard to answer now. There are still many mysteries about how they were able to do things. For instance, in the Dendera Temple complex, passageways go deep underground. The question arises as to how these passages were lit. The first thing that comes to most peoples mind is lanterns or torches. The problem with that though is, there is no evidence of fires being lit in the passageways. No soot or anything. One theory was that they may have used a series of mirrors set up to light the passageways from the entrance. This idea was tested, but the light got weaker and weaker the further down it went, thus disproving this theory. Interestingly, the hieroglyphs at the Temple may provide the answer:

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Light bulbs anyone?

Another interesting hieroglyph is in the Temple of Osiris at Abydos:

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Is that a helicopter? And an airplane? One of them even looks a little bit like a spaceship.

Light bulbs and helicopters not withstanding, the concept of electricity wasn't completely unheard of in antiquity. Batteries, such as the Baghdad Battery have been found which supports the idea that ancient peoples knew how to create at least small electric currents. Usually, its theorized it may have just been used for electroplating.

So what else may they Egyptians have known that has been forgotten? And how did they get to be so advanced at such an early period of history? Maybe one day we will find out.

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