Real reasons for Egyptian Pyramids?

SInce high school I’ve enjoyed reading about ancient Egypt, including some good books by Sir Alan Gardiner. But I also read a book (“Footprints of the Gods” by Graham Hitchcock) promoting the not-entirely-new idea that the Pyramids and Sphynx actually pre-date ancient Egypt, their precise layout not coincidence, but an astronomical indicator of the date of origin, etc. It’s great storytelling, but covers so much ground (Egypt, Mexico, Peru, over several millenia) that it’s too spectacular. Perhaps selling a lot of books is the real motivation behind these kind of books? (Interested persons don’t have to buy them either! May I suggest your public library?) I’d appreciate your thoughts and opinions–which aren’t guided by academic pressures (traditional explanations) or the motivation of selling lots of books (cosmic explanations) but rather, logic and reason. So, what was the reason for building the Pyramids, and how about the so-called “ventilation tunnels” which may have pointed to auspicious stars?

Thank you in advance for your input.

Robert Bauval is the originator of the idea that the layout of the Giza pyramids echoes the stars in the belt of Orion (in his book ** The Orion Mystery**). His work ties neatly in with work in the 1960s by others that the “ventilation shafts” actually point to important stars (including some in Orion’d belt). For some reason, Bauval has had a lot of resistance to these ideas, and I think it’s undeserved. If you read his book, it’s clear that part of his reason for holding these beliefs is religious – Bauval adheres to the teachings of Edgar Cayce. Nevertheless, he holds his religious impulses in check, and makes his arguments without recourse to them.

But then Bauval went on to co-author a couple of books with Graham Hancock that, I think, go off the deep end. I draw the line at world-girdling civilizations tens of thousands of years old. The books with Hancock are, to me, very literally unbelievable.

On other matters pyramidic, read “Giza, the Truth” (I haven’t yet), or Bauval’s own Secret Chamber. I take Bauval’s work with caution, but he’s best when he’s on his own, as here.

I have the right credentials for talking about this, I think. I, too, have authored a book on mythology and astronomical phenomena, and am not an academic (at least not in this area), so I can sympathize with Bauval. In fact, I’ve sent him my e-mailed approval of his first book, which he thanked me for. So I’m not guided by academic pressures nor the need to sell books (this doesn’t affect my book).

My take: I think that the Giza pyramids wre built to mimic the belt stars of Orion, but that they were built according to the generally accepted timetable. I honestly don’t know why they were built, although there’s nothing to convince me that that they weren’t intended as tombs. This would not be incompatible with the alignments, and in fact they make much more sense when you accept that the link to the “imperishable stars” suggests a yearning for eternal life. I seriously doubt any claims of great age for either the pyramids or the sphinx (I dobn’t know enough about the geology to comment on the weathering evidence for the age of the Sphinx). I find Gantenbrinck’s work with his robot in the shafts very interesting, and wish to see it pursued. I get the impression that it has not been laergely because of blundering and politics, alrthough I don’t know whose blundeering it is – it may very well be gantenbrinck’s himself. The supposed “secret chamber” in the pyramid syhaft is intriguing, but I think that gantenbrinck, Hancock, Bauval, and others have inflated ideas about its size and contents. I suspect it’s a tiny box of a room, if anything, and that it’s either empty or has one or two small and enigmatic items in it.

Omit “perhaps”, & you’ve got your answer.

If you feel you must, examine those books more closely.
[li]There is no credible evidence in them. Mostly speculation.[/li][li]Few books of this type give a bibliography of the sources of their “information”.[/li][li]Many of the “facts” are merely assertations, with no attempt to describe how the conclusion was reached.[/li][li]Many of the ideas in these books are drawn from previous collections of pseudo-science. So nonsense perpetuates itself.[/li][li]Does the book use the term “conspiracy” in any way? If so, why? There is usually no motive for scholars to suppress information, & established theories are regularly discarded in favor of new ones as the evidence warrents. So, why create a “conspiracy” ? What’s to be gained? Cuo Bono? [sub]Latin- “who profits?” Or,“Who Gains?”[/sub][/li][li]Finally, does this book refer to other unproven phenomena? Such as UFOs, ESP, Atlantis, Bigfoot or Magik? You cannot use one unproven theory to justify another. This is not a valid line of reasoning. It’s just building a great pile of “ifs” and “maybes”. [/ol][/li]
You are probably wise to be cautious in assessing the validity of this text.
For an entertaining, & probably a vastly better researched book, try The Ancient Engineers by L. Sprague DeCamp. Engagingly written & well researched, it shows us the magnificient achievements of the past were created in a very human way. Here’s the formula for the great engineering marvels of the past:
Careful Planning X {Simple Tools + Lots of Hard Work} = Wonders Of The World.

Like the Pyramids.

This is also interesting:

Take any books that you have that were written by Graham Hancock and burn them. The heat that they give off will be the only useful thing that you’ll get out of them. The man is a, choose one (fool, idiot, moron, bad “scientist”).

I read the dust jacket for Fingerprint of the Gods and bought the book because it interested me. I should point out that I am interested in ‘Cult Archaeology’ and the way it is interpreted by the general public. Hancock kept saying that the “evidence” for a complex civilization before Egypt was overwhelming. The only problem is he never offered up the evidence, just some lame anecdotes.

I honestly don’t think that the only motivation is greed. Wackos (I use this term with utmost affection) fall in love with their hypotheses, and revel in their roles as martyrs. While some manage to snag enough public attention to publish sucessful books, other follow their dreams to destitution.

Anyway, here’s a rebuttal of some of Bauval’s astronomical claims:

The pity here is that the ancients did do some incredible astronomy, but the serious student of archaeoastronomy will find it difficult to sift through the New-Age claptrap to find the really interesting stuff.

If anybody is interested in reading some archaeoastronomy, I would suggest books by Anthony Aveni. The guy is incredibly smart and writes well.

Not to hijack, but…

How the hell did they build the pyramids anyway? I think to question HOW they built them would at least shed some light on their eventual purpose.

-Man power? Seems to be a stretch (those rocks were heavy!) and you can only crowd so many people around a two-ton rock.

-DistanceDidn’t they get them from far away (float them down the Nile?), not to mention no wheels?

I’ve heard accounts of placing tree trunks under the rocks and rolling them, but where did all the trees come from?

**-Pulleys?**How did they get those giant rocks up the sides?

Now, getting back on track:

to overcome these exorbinant risks and trials to build these wonders, there had to be some incentive. I don’t think that tracking stars more efficiently would be enough incentive for thousands of peasant workers.

I’ve also read that those who actually built the pyramids were not slaves in the popular context of the word, but gladly dedicated their lives in laboring on the pyramids, so there had to be something else going on here.

Here’s a link to the Nova program “Who Built the Pyramids?”. In his interview archaeologist Mark Lehner discusses some of the specifics of how the pyramids were built and also addresses the Edgar Cayce/New Age theories.

They were slaves, they didn’t need incentive.
The real incentive was to give their God-king a place to rest, and a place to spend the afterlife. (or such)

Really? I never heard this. Got a cite?
I have always learned that they WERE slaves. Even in the bible they used the Hebrews as slaves.

The Bible isn’t really a good source for historically factual information.

Now, I’m not quite sure how it was done in Egypt, but I know that in Peru labour to build monuments and even the roads was in the form of a tax. People would do their regular work as farmers or fishermen or whatever, but they were also expected to supply a certain number of bricks or work hours on major projects. It was called a Mita tax.

Thanks for the awesome cite Spoilervirgin!

Epimethius: check out the cite; it has a lot of good info in it.

Until very recently it was believed that they were built by slaves; however, it is now thought that is not so. I don’t have any cites. In fact I think I learned this from the History channell: the source of all my history. :smiley: The reasoning is that slaves would not be motivated to do the kind of work that they did. They would be forced to work, but they wouldn’t have worked with the zeal, attention to detail, and efficiency shown in the building of the pyramids.

Well, lookee here, what a co-in-kee-dink:

Gotta love the CSICOP mailing list

The statement was not that the Egyptians never had slaves, only that slaves were not the primary work force on the pyramids.

In addition, you are linking two very different time periods. The Hebrew slaves who served as farm laborers were working around 900-1100 years after the really famous pyramids had been completed. The biblical account of the slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt makes no mention of the pyramids.

If the pyramids were not intended as tombs, then why do they all have dead pharoes under them?

Have you ever tried getting up and walking about after two billion tons of rock landed on you?

They got really excited after they saw what the pyramids did for razors.

The pharoahs looked at the finished products, turned to the hordes of workers, and said,

“A little to the left, I think…”

I don’t think anyone said they weren’t used as tombs, just that that wasn’t their only purpose. They also had astronomical significance.