re: early Egyptian records
- On the topic of lost civilizations, German archaeologist Gunter Dreyer has
pushed back the date of early Egyptian history. Not only discovering the
earliest hieroglyphs (before it developed into a systematic written
language) he also found evidence of early tombs and underground chambers
like those beneath the pyramids-- but predating them by at least six hundred
Here is an excerpt from the program I recently watched, "Atlantis
Uncovered". The title is a play on words: not *dis*covered-- uncovered.
* * *
NARRATOR: The English pottery marked the moment when foreigners arrived in
this part of America. The test is the same for the hallmarks of ancient
civilisation, like pyramids or writing. If they were brought by an Atlantian
super-race they should appear suddenly superimposed on Stone Age life with
no precursors, but if the local people created them there should be slow
steps of development over thousands of years. When archaeologists study the
greatest symbols of civilisation what do they find? The pyramids of Egypt
were built as tombs for the Pharaohs. Most celebrated are those at Giza,
built around 2,500BC, but these are not the first. What came before was
puzzling. At Dahshur are two earlier pyramids, one of them so misshapen it's
known as the Bent Pyramid.
DR TOBY WILKINSON (University of Cambridge): Both these pyramids were built
by one King, by King Sneferu and he came to this site and started on the
pyramid behind us called the Bent Pyramid. As his masons were working up the
pyramid they discovered that in fact there were certain structural problems.
The desert surface here is very unstable. They'd also been very slapdash
about how they put the blocks together and so the structure started to
subside and it was decided then at that point to start a new pyramid, which
we call the Red Pyramid, to the north.
NARRATOR: Sneferu's builders didn't seem to know what they were doing.
TOBY WILKINSON: We can actually tell why King Sneferu's builders ran into
problems here, if we look at the state of these blocks. They were using very
poor quality mortar and they were setting the core blocks in a very
haphazard way and we know that they learnt their lessons because when they
started to build the Red Pyramid they used better quality mortar, they set
the blocks more carefully and they founded the pyramid on a foundation of
limestone to give it extra structural rigidity.
NARRATOR: If these pyramids were the work of Atlantians they must have been
dodgy builders, but Egyptologists have another explanation. They see the
Bent Pyramid as clear evidence of the Egyptians learning to build through a
process of trial and error, and there are pyramids even older than the Bent
Pyramid. The step pyramid at Saqqara is a smaller and simpler structure. A
whole century before Giza, the first of many steps towards perfection.
TOBY WILKINSON: It's certainly true that pyramids do evolve and one can
trace the evolution of them through the step pyramid and finally to the true
pyramids that we see behind us. They didn't appear fully-fledged overnight.
NARRATOR: But if the Atlantians didn't bring the art of pyramid building,
how did the idea begin? Archaeologists believe the answer lies 250 miles
south along the Nile, in a place more mysterious still: Abydos, the ancient
capital of Egypt. Gunter Dreyer has spent the last 20 years excavating at
Abydos. Hidden away in the desert, this seemed an unpromising place to look
for the origins of the great pyramids.
DR GUNTER DREYER (German Archaeological Institute, Cairo): At the beginning
it was a little bit a risk. We didn't know what we might find. In
archaeology you try. You may suppose things, but better try and look.
NARRATOR: When Dreyer began to excavate he came upon something unexpected,
something more than 600 years older than Giza.
GUNTER DREYER: The first trial trench we came upon a very large tomb, very
large tomb indeed, of a size we never expected for that period. When we dug
and the first wall came out we had the tomb there and then another chamber
beside the first one, and another, and another. It didn't stop.
NARRATOR: An underground tomb with chambers that had once been full of
treasure. A simple version of what lies below the pyramids. This was proof
of a tradition stretching back centuries. Dreyer has now excavated hundreds
of tombs at Abydos. They began with simple pits in the ground and slowly
progressed to great underground monuments.
GUNTER DREYER: So from the very first tombs of that size it developed over
1,000 years to that size and the next step to the pyramids is not a bigger
one than those we have seen before.
NARRATOR: Other teams at Abydos excavated monuments built above ground.
Compared to the pyramid sites they showed remarkable similarities. The same
bricks laid in the same way to build the same style of walls with doorways
in the same positions. Abydos had revealed a thousand year record of
incremental steps leading towards the pyramids, the mark of a gradual, local
development. There was no trace of Atlantis. But these revelations don't
explain the mystery at the heart of the Atlantian argument: the strange
coincidence that pyramids were also built on the other side of the Atlantic.