Mysterious pyramids

Sun behind Great Pyramid
Fig. 1 - Sun behind Great Pyramid

Of all the buildings of the world pyramids seem to be the most enigmatic. "Pyramid" and "secret", typed into any search engine, promptly yields thousands of results, and the number of books, articles, films and games with "pyramid" in the title is countless. But what IS the mystery of the pyramids?

Many authors are intrigued by the fact that these constructions can be found worldwide in just about any culture. In the 19th century, before the invention of scientific dating methods, it was therefore thought, that this was the sign of one original culture source which transported the style around the world. The concept of Atlantis was implid, even if not uttered. The idea of hyper-diffusionism (that each and every ancient invention spread from one point of origin) is now dead in academic circles, because after the introduction of dating methods it was clear, that the time span between the oldest and the youngest pyramid building culture was too large (almost 3000 years), and also that there are too many differences betweenthe construction styles and functions of these pyramids for them to have come from one source alone.

But the Egyptian pyramids alone have enough mysteries to fill whole libraries with books on the subject. The most mysterious pyramids are of course those at Giza, a suburb of the metropolis Cairo. And every year new books about those "mysteries" are added. Even serious books, when it comes to titles, have hitched their star to the mystery-wagon, so is the German title of Mark Lehners "The complete pyramids" "Die Geheimnisse der Pyramiden" - which means "The Secret of the pyramids". This sounds rather like Mendelssohn's "Riddle of the Pyramids".

Although archaeologist are dismayed by this emphasisis on sensationalistic, it is hardly a modern phenomenon. Indeed, as far as the great pyramids of Giza are concerned, fanciful tales have a long tradition. The oldest known legends connected with the pyramids don't date back to 50 or 100 years, in fact, they are about 2500 years old. At that time the Greek traveller Herodotus recorded legends about the tyrant pharaoh Khufu, his whore-daughter Henutsen and many other lurid stories. These far fetched accounts from antiquity reached their apogee about 1400 years ago, shortly after the Arabs had conquered Egypt. The conquerors found gigantic ruins, but there was no-one who could give them any information about the purpose or the original builders of these constructions. Even the conquered Egyptians no longer retained any knowledge about their ancestors. Legends and rumors soon sprouted: the pyramids were artificial mountains, built so that ancient kings could survive the Flood. Or they had been built by Noah, in order to protect the word of God and the knowledge of the universe from the ravages of the Flood. The pyramids contained treasure chambers, filled to the brim with gold, jewels and secret knowledge. They contained weapons of the Gods, together with bodies preserved in luminous coffins and much more. In the 15th. Century these early pyramid traditions were summarized by the historian and religious scholar al-Makrizi in his most famous work, the Hitat.

Since that time our knowledge of Egypt and the pyramids has advanced dramatically. Because we now can read ancient Egyptians writings again (the so called hieroglyphics, which means "holy signs") we no longer have to believe in fairy-tale accounts made up long after the downfall of the Egyptian civilization - we can get first-hand information from the Egyptians themselves! We can read what the original architects and builders wanted to say from their inscriptions on the walls of the temples and tombs.
Of course we can only read what is written. Unfortunately no writings have been found in the large pyramids of the 4th and 5th Dynasty (between 2600 and 2400 BCE) - which means that, as far as those pyramids are concerned, we are not much better off then the Arab conquerors were 1400 years ago. We are left asking the same questions: How old are they? What was their purpose? Who built them? Are there secret messages in them? While "established" science claims, that they have reasonable answers to all these questions, a large group of alternative historians have doubts. They have developed their own ideas. But how do these alternative ideas compare with what the "orthos" have to offer? Do proponents of orthodox history have better arguments than those expressed by the phrase used by many alternative authors "I just have this feeling that it must be older"?

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© for all pictures and texts: Frank D├Ârnenburg