News of this discovery (also here) has been circulating around the web today. An archaeological team from the University of Pennsylvania (on of my alma matres) has uncovered a Second Intermediate Period necropolis at Abydos, Egypt. The discovery includes the remains of a previously unknown pharaoh named Woseribre Senebkay.
I thought it noteworthy to point out that the sarcophagus was over-sized (probably in the 8-9 foot range), but the actual remains of the Pharaoh tell us he was about 5′ 10″. You’ll often see large sarcophagi like this one touted as evidence that the occupant was a giant. Not so. You can’t tell anything about a person’s height from the box he’s buried in. The photos below come from the links above.
Yes, you read that correctly. This is only news if (like the BBC) you’ve never heard of Jean-Pierre Houdin, or never watched the National Geographic special on this now famous French architect’s internal ramp theory about how the Great Pyramid was built, or never sat through my Egyptology class. Honestly, National Geographic wrote about this nearly seven years ago, as did Archaeologymagazine.
So no, this guy from Newport isn’t on to anything ground-breaking. He’s behind the curve. But at least his restoration work is lending (more) support to Houdin’s earlier theory.
For information on Houdin and his theory, see the links and books below.
Many readers will be familiar with E. A. Wallis Budge, perhaps mostly with respect to his books on Egyptology. Much of Budge’s work in Egyptian language is today very outdated, as is his other work in Egyptology. Nevertheless, there is still good material to be found in his works, most of which are available at this University of Pennsylvania site for free. The collection is heavily stilted toward Egyptology and Coptic.
I was just sent the image below from a friend who asked for my opinion.
I often get pictures like this that people think “prove” certain ideas about ancient alien influence on world civilizations. Asinine. Pardon my yawn.
Let me summarize what this proves:
All ancient cultures believed the gods lived where humans did not and could not – mountains, the depths of the sea, the waters above the sky, below the earth, etc. They also believed the gods lived in the best possible places – hence also the luxuriant garden idea, known best in arid cultures where finding an oasis was a big deal.
Taking the “gods live on mountains” idea, to localize a deity so that you can worship it and offer sacrifice, in return for blessing and barter, you’d build the deity a vacation home – in the shape of a mountain, like his or her real home. A home away from home.
Consequently, such images make me think “whoop-dee-do.” What other architectural shape would you use to build an artificial mountain / home / meeting place for a deity? It’s no surprise that the common shape occurs all over the world. It’s quite understandable.
Jason Colavito just posted about this piece of wacky Bible interpretation. It’s a good post, made entertaining by the fact that the notion of pterosaurs in the Bible comes to us from Ken Ham’s creation ministry. It’s biblical paleobabble like this that discredits the serious scientists who believe in creation from contributing to the discussion. They don’t want to be put in the same category as Ken Ham. Who can blame them?
At any rate, if you read Jason’s piece, which links to Ben Stanhope’s blog where Ben posted about a trip to Ken Ham’s creation museum, you’ll discover that some of the wackiness relates to the “flying serpents” mentioned a couple times in the Old Testament. Scholars have known for some time, based on word study (especially the noun seraph) and comparison of the biblical material with Egyptian material, that there are likely two explanations for the language: (1) the “fiery seraph” likely speaks to the spitting cobra (“fiery” = the burning sensation that comes when you’re unlucky enough to get sprayed or bitten); and (2) when cobras are ready to strike the flanges of skin on either side of their head spreads out, giving the impression of “wings” – hence “flying seraph”. Egyptian has the same word (seraf) for this type of serpent, which was also conceived of as a cosmic throne guardian (recall the cobra motif in Egyptian iconography).
A good scholarly article on the above (if you have access to scholarly journals via a library membership to the ATLA or JSTOR databases) is:
A few days Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) posted a link online to an article entitled, “Extraterrestrial Elements in Egyptian Equipment.” Ancient astronaut believers (and Giorgio Tsoukalos’ hairdresser) no doubt saw the title and got pretty excited about the possibilities.
Sounds startling, doesn’t it? The word “elements” conjures up mental imagery about physics, metallurgy, and “space age” technological knowledge on the part of the Egyptians. It’s nice titling if you want to generate hits online. At least someone working at BAR isn’t a crusty field archaeologist in their seventies. But when you actually read the article you’ll find out it’s about iron beads.
You read that correctly. Beads.
The focus of the essay is about the extraterrestrial source of the iron in certain Egyptian beads. No, the iron didn’t come from a UFO crash, or alien gods trading advanced material in exchange for . . . something. Rather, the iron came from meteorites.
Rocks that the Egyptians saw fall from space, not intelligent visitors from space. But still interesting.
Here’s a link to an interesting article about recent archaeological research in the village that housed the pyramid builders. It focuses on the evidence for large settled herds that generated food and served as a food source.
Why is it on Paleobabble?
Well, it’s sort of odd that this sort of thing would be needed at the Giza pyramid complex if the ancient Egyptians used the advance alien technology of levitation. We *know* it couldn’t be human. So, if they had levitation, one would think the pyramid would take very little time. Maybe a week with all those stones floating around — no need to drag them. Oh, and the lasers to cut them like butter. The pyramid would be a short-term project. Hmmm.
Or maybe it wasn’t aliens with technology advanced far beyond our own.
A few days ago the Luxor Times reported the discovery of 40 papyrus documents and 30 caves “sealed by King Khufu’s cartouche” were discovered “at Wadi El Jerf, located on the red sea coast to the South of the city of Suez, about 190 kilo meters.”
Given it’s associated with Khufu (4th dynasty – ca. 4500 years ago), I’m hoping some of the papyri deal with building projects (e.g., the Great Pyramid). We’ll see.