Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Great Pyramid Era - Egypt on the verge of a great transformation

Due to the difficulty in describing the political situation of Egypt without being boring, I’ve decided to write this article based on screenplay by Ron Howard TV movie “Tut and Tuttle”, aired in 1982 (here in Brazil).

Leia esta matéria em Português

Meditating over the small cupper pyramid and holding his quartz crystal small version (my father gifted me both pyramids in the seventies), I went to Ancient Egypt accompanied by a protector lion.

We arrived precisely on 13th September, 2588 b.C. – or, 27th Paopi day of the festival of lighting, the fires of Neith

Our hosts were Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofret.

He was a Prince in Ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty. It is not clear if his is son of pharaoh Sneferu and his first wife. Zahi Hawass suggests his father was Huni.

Anyway, Rahotep's titles were inscribed on a magnificent statue of him side by side his wife, Nofret, found inside his mastaba at Meidum in 1871 describing him as High Priest of Ra at Heliopolis (with the added title, unique to Heliopolis, Ra's town, of "Greatest of Seers"), Director of Expeditions and Supervisor of Works. He also has a title given to high nobility, "the son of the king, begotten of his body".

Rahotep's older brother was Nefermaat, and his younger brother was Ranefer. Rahotep died when he was young.

Rahotep's wife, Nofret is very beautiful, her parents are not known and the circumstances that made her marry Rahotep are uncertain.

Nofret and Rahotep had three sons – Djedi, Itu and Neferkau – and three daughters – Mereret, Nedjemib and Sethtet.

Rahotep said that he should travel to the Sinai turquoise mines, and if we want, we could go with him to encounter his half-brother Khufu that will become pharaoh after Snefru's death.

Snefru must ensure extensive work and storage of materials to enable them to undertake massive construction projects (such as the pyramids).

(According to Guillemette Andreu, this is where the king’s foreign policy played a large part. Sneferu’s conquests into Libya and Nubia served two purposes: the first goal was to establish an extensive labour force, and the second goal was to gain access to the raw materials and special products that were available in these countries. This is alluded to in the Palermo stone:

“…The building of Tuataua ships of mer wood of a hundred capacity, and 60 royal boats of sixteen capacity. Raid in the Land of the Blacks, and the bringing in of seven thousand prisoners, men and women, and twenty goats…
The bringing of forty ships of cedar wood (or perhaps "laden with cedar wood")…”

Sneferu's military efforts in Libya led to the capture of 11,000 prisoners and 13,100 head of cattle. Aside from the extensive import of cedar (most likely from Lebanon) described above, there is evidence of activity in the turquoise mines on the Sinai Peninsula and also a large-scale quarrying projects to provide Sneferu with the stone he needed for his pyramids.

The travel was tense; the popularity of Sneferu after his fast and effective campaigns left much to be desired. People seem to be looking down at us with a suspicious expression.

We reach turquoise mines by night and the 23 year-old Khufu was having trouble with a group of Mentiu (or Moniti, a name which is applied to a tribe of Bedouins that wear strange hats of the Sinaitic Peninsula).

The lieder of the group, took advantage of the relatively open road to hit Khufu. Rahotep react immediately, saving his half brother’s life.

On the rocks of what is known today as Wady Magharah, we could see stone tablets representing the monarch in the act of smiting an enemy, whom he holds by the hair of his head, with a mace. The action is apparently emblematic, for at the side we see the words Ta satu, "Smiter of the nations;"

Sneferu used to call himself Neter aa, "the Great God," and Neb mat, "the Lord of Justice." He is also "the Golden Horus," or "the Conqueror." Neb mat is not a usual title with Egyptian monarchs; and its assumption by Sneferu would seem to mark, at any rate, his appreciation of the excellence of justice, and his desire to have the reputation of a just ruler.

Sneferu had reduced to subjection these tribes, which in his time inhabited the Sinaitic regions. The motive of the attack was not mere lust of conquest, but rather the desire of gain.

After the revenge of the Mentiu tribe by attacking Khufu, we went to Ankhaf’s quarters.

Back to Menphis, we went to the temple of Ptah to receive the blessings of the High Priest, and then to the temple of Toth, where Ankhaf would take care of Khufu’s injuries.

Nofret was there, and left the place with a strange look in her eyes. I don't mean this as gossip – but I believe that Nofret is having an affair with Ankhaf.

Ankhhaf was a son of pharaoh Sneferu and an unknown wife. He had an elder brother, Kanefer. He was younger half-brother to Khufu, who became a king after Sneferu died. Ankhhaf had the titles "eldest king's son of his body" (sa nswt n khtf smsw), "vizier" and "the great one of Five of the house of Thoth" (wr djw pr-Djehuti).

Ankhhaf's tomb in Giza (G 7510) depicts his sister-wife Princess Hetepheres. Hetepheres was the eldest daughter of Sneferu and Queen Hetepheres I and thus Ankhhaf's half-sister. Hetepheres had the titles "eldest king's daughter of his body", "the one whom he loves" (sat nswt n khtf smst mrt.f) and "Priestess of Sneferu" (hmt-nTr Snfrw). Ankhhaf and Hetepheres had a daughter, who was a mother of Ankhetef.

Ankhhaf and Hemiano was the main responsible to the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza and played a role in the construction/reformation of the Sphinx. (Ankhaf’s mastaba tomb, G 7510, was the largest in the eastern cemetery at Giza).

After attending his half-brother Ankhaf came to talk to us. He promised that we would visit, next morning, the brand new pyramids of Snefru.

The most well known monuments from Sneferu’s reign are the three pyramids, two built in Dahshur (the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid) and one in Meidum (Meidum pyramid). Under the reign of Sneferu, was developed the major evolution in pyramidal structures, which would lead to construction of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

Meidum Step Pyramid

The first of three pyramids is an immense stone structure. It serves as physical testimony to the transition from the stepped pyramid structure to that of a “true” pyramid structure.

(Archaeological investigations of the pyramid shows that it was first conceived as a seven-stepped structure, built in a similar manner to the Djoser complex at Saqqara. Modifications later were made to add another platform, and at an even later stage limestone facing was added to create the smooth, angled finish characteristic of a “true” pyramid).

The Bent Pyramid

Also known as the Rhomboidal or Blunted Pyramid, attests to an even greater increase in architectural innovations. As the name suggests, the angle of the inclination changes from 55° to about 43° in the upper levels of the pyramid. It is likely that the pyramid initially was not designed to be built this way, but was modified during construction due to unstable accretion layers.

The satellite pyramid complementing Sneferu’s Bent Pyramid introduces more change in the architecture of the time, when the passage way is built ascending westward (as opposed to the conventionally descending northward direction of the passages of previously build pyramids) towards the burial chambers.

The Red Pyramid

With the increase of innovation in Sneferu's building projects, one expects that his last pyramid, the Red Pyramid, will show the greatest complexity and change in architecture yet. Upon first glance, one may be disappointed seeing that the construction of the Red Pyramid seemingly is simpler than its predecessor. Due to the advances achieved by Sneferu team, secret chambers could be waiting to be uncovered within the stone superstructure. (Considering that the remains of King Sneferu have not yet been found, it still may be possible that his sarcophagus and mummy lie hidden in his mysterious last structure).

Ankhafer makes fun of the first two pyramids by saying “the Bent Pyramid and the Steps Pyramid of Meidum are the largest open air drafts ever built”.

Some weeks later, Sneferu succumbed to a disease and Khufu came to the Egyptian throne in his twenties.

Khufu was the son of King Sneferu and Queen Hetepheres I and brother of Princess Hetepheres. Unlike his father, Khufu was a cruel and ruthless. Khufu had nine sons, one of whom, Djedefra, was his immediate successor. He also had fifteen daughters, one of whom would later become Queen Hetepheres II.

(Several of Khufu's sons are known from the papyrus Westcar, while other children are merely known from their tombs in Giza. Cemetery G 7000 contains several of the mastabas of these royal children.

Khufu's negative reputation lasted at least until the time of Herodotus, who was told further stories of that king's cruelty to his people and to his own family in order to ensure the construction of his pyramid).

Khufu knew that he must take the chance to build the best pyramid ever; he had the most experienced team of constructors, financial resources, and determination.

He started the work even before the end of his first year.

One of the biggest falsehoods about the Great Pyramid of Khufu is that it was built by slaves. Zahi Hawass discoveries in the tombs of the Pyramid builders on the Giza Plateau, have finally and conclusively put this theory to rest.

We now know with certainty that the Pyramids were built by Egyptian men and women -- not slaves! Slavery, while it existed in Ancient Egypt, was not an important part of the economy, especially in the Old Kingdom, and, moreover, it is important to examine the meaning of the word "slavery". We think of slavery as the ownership of a person. In Ancient Egypt the word "slavery" meant a person who worked for another, like the modern term "servant".

The construction of Pyramids was a national project. The massive monument symbolised the might and power of the royal house. In Ancient Egypt, it was essential for the Pharaoh to build a tomb to ensure his rebirth as a god in the afterlife and thus magically maintain the right order of the universe. Every household from Upper to Lower Egypt participated in the construction of the Pharaoh's tomb (pyramid). Every family helped by sending food, materials and manpower. From hieroglyphic inscriptions and graffiti we infer that skilled builders and craftsmen probably worked year-round at the Pyramid construction site. Peasant farmers from the surrounding villages and provinces rotated in and out of the labour force.

Time to get back to the future, now we know the forces behind the construction of this intriguing monument.

“Ops” seems like I brought a little souvenir from ancient Egypt.

Why different civilizations built pyramids?

The seaside view of El Castillo at Tulum

For thousands of years, the largest structures on Earth were pyramids: the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt, is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still remaining.

Pyramids are being constructed since Upper Paleolithic, about 45,000-10,000 years ago to modern days. The first humans used mammoths’ bones, stones and/or pieces of wood as construction material for their pyramid-like structures.

Pyramids are the most stable constructions, and man learned how to imprint some information on it, writing on its walls, or even by the way they’ve constructed it.

Why were pyramids built?

Basically, ancient Egypt pyramids came from the mastabas, tombs used for the burials of pharaohs and their queens.

The first pyramid was made by stacking a mastaba on top of a slightly larger one. Mastabas were relatively low, rectangular, flat-roofed, roughly bench-shaped burial mounds for the pre-Dynastic pharaohs or nobility. Mastabas, which were made of mud brick or stone, were visible monuments, with the actual burial chamber under ground.

During the fourth dynasty, after the construction of the first pyramid, monuments were erected as a signal of prosperity. Tall, glorious, and expensive structures were built as a testament to the society that they represented, and also the rulers who lead those societies. In Egypt, pyramids were erected as a tribute to the glory of the civilization by the Nile.

Pyramids were also related to the religion of the time, Egyptian pyramids held many personal items of the deceased in preparation for his afterlife.

Some other structures in Central America were used as astronomical observatories and benchmarks.

Many have said that some pyramids are mathematical compendium incorporating all kinds of astronomical and cosmological formulas of each civilization.

Although many of these factual findings and conclusions are related to pseudoscientific research, we may consider formulas incorporated in pyramids as "intentional”.

Contrary to common beliefs, the largest pyramid by volume is not the Great Pyramid of Giza; it is the Cholula pyramid in the state of Puebla.

Known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for "artificial mountain"), Cholula is a huge complex located in Mexico. Is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World. The pyramid stands 55 meters (180 ft) above the surrounding plain, and in its final form it measured 400 by 400 meters (1,300 by 1,300 ft). The pyramid is a temple that has traditionally been viewed as having been dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl. The architectural style of the building was closely linked to that of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico.

But of course, Egyptians achieved State-of-the art in matters of pyramids construction.

 Imhotep, a priest and a physician - credited to be the father of science 
The name behind the construction of the first pyramid was Imhotep, a priest and physician; credited with many miraculous healings.

Although he achieved great fame during his lifetime, Imhotep's renown continued to grow after his death. He eventually achieved status of a god among Egyptians.

He is best known today as the architect who began the "age of pyramids" in Egypt. He designed and supervised the building of the step pyramid complex at Saqqara, which is believed to be the first colossal stone edifice ever built, but ancient Egypt’s chief attraction still the Great Pyramid of Giza.

It has been said that the dimensions of the Great Pyramid of Giza incorporate measurements from which the Earth's size and shape can be calculated, as well as the distance between the Earth and the moon and the distance between the Earth and the sun.

The Great Pyramid of Giza, also called Khufu’s Pyramid or Cheops was built entirely of limestone, and is considered an architectural masterpiece. It contains around 1,300,000 blocks ranging in weight from 2.5 tons to 15 tons and is built on a square base with sides measuring about 230 m (755 ft), covering 13 acres. Its four sides face the four cardinal points precisely and it has an angle of about 51 degrees. The original height of the Pyramid was c.146.5 m (488 ft), but today it is only 137 m (455 ft) high, the 9 m (33 ft) that is missing is due to the theft of the fine quality limestone covering, or casing stones to build houses and Mosques in Cairo.

Find here some nice statistics about the Pyramid of Khufu:

- The sides of all three of the Giza pyramids were astronomically oriented to be north-south and east-west within a small fraction of a degree;

- Pi

The pyramid of Cheops have a base length of 230,28 m, and a height of 146.6 m. If you take two times the base length, and divide this by the height, you get a value of Pi "3,14161
The pyramid of Cheops have a base length of 230,28 m, and a height of 146.6 m. If you take two times the base length, and divide this by the height, you get a value of Pi "3,14161..." the mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter;

- Golden Ratio – Phi

To find the Golden Section, 1:1.618 we have to divide the length of the base, 230.28m. by 2 and then, divide it by the apothem, the altitude of a face, from ground to the top
We could also find Golden Section (1:1.618), a unique ratio (or relationship between parts) that seems to be preferred by nature as the best geometry for growth, energy conservation, elegance and has some fundamental relationships to the platonic solids. Al we have to do is divide the length of the base (230.28m) by 2 and then divide it by the apothem (the altitude of a face, from ground to the top);

- Center of Earth

The Pyramid lies in the center of gravity of the continents. It also lies in the exact center of all the land area of the world, dividing the earth's land mass into approximately equal quarters.

The north-south axis (31 degrees east of Greenwich) is the longest land meridian, and the east-west axis (30 degrees north) is the longest land parallel on the globe. There is obviously only one place that these longest land-lines of the terrestrial earth can cross, and it is at the Great Pyramid! This is incredible, one of the scores of features of this mighty structure which begs for a better explanation.

- Perfectly placed stones

The average casing stone on the lowest level was 5 ft. long by 5 ft. high by 6 ft. deep and weighed 15 tons. The casing stones weighing as much as 20 tons were placed with an accuracy of 5/1000ths of an inch, and an intentional gap of about 2/100ths of an inch for mortar;

- From far away

High quality limestone was used for the outer casing, with some of the blocks weighing up to 15 tones. This limestone came from Tura, about 8 miles away on the other side of the Nile. Granite quarried nearly 500 miles away in Aswan with blocks weighing as much as 60-80 tones, was used for the portcullis doors and relieving chambers;

- Chambers above ground level

The Great Pyramid is the only pyramid to have chambers above ground level.

The arrangement of the pyramids is a disputed representation of the Orion constellation. Hancock and Bauval in their book explain that the ‘air’ shafts inside the Great Pyramid aligned to the stars in the Belt of Orion and the pole star around 2500 BC. The southern shaft from the Queens Chamber aligned with the star Sirius at its culmination point on the meridian. This star was very important to the Egyptians and was associated with the mother Goddess Isis. The southern shaft emanating from the Kings Chamber aligned with the brightest star of the Orion Belt Zeta Orionis. This star was associated with the Egyptian God of resurrection and rebirth Osiris! The northern shafts aligned to the ancient pole star Alpha Draconis (Kings Chamber) and to Beta Ursa Minor (Queens Chamber);

- Indicates equinoxes

At dawn and sunset at the time of the equinoxes (around 21 March and 22 Sept), a shadow appears on the south face of the great pyramid, apparently dividing it in half, with the shaded side nearest the sun. The phenomenon occurs because the core-masonry is concave on all four faces by a yard deep. The casing stones that exist show clearly that the finished surface wasn't concave. This strange feature was first illustrated in La Description de l'Egypte in the late 1700's (Volume V, pl. 8). Flinders Petrie noticed a hollowing in the core masonry in the center of each face and wrote that he "continually observed that the courses of the core had dips of as much as ½° to 1°" (The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, 1883, p. 421). Though it is apparently more easily observed from the air, the concavity is measurable and is visible from the ground under favorable lighting conditions.

- Pyramid power
At the end of 70's Luiz Pagano gave him a cooper pyramid
There are many pseudoscientific theories in wich pyramids harnesses cosmic energy (or Universal Life Force Energy) and preserves it in its bosom. The idea that using small models of pyramids can improve health, improve the growth of seeds and plants, preserve food, sharpen or maintain the sharpness of razor blades, among others, was initiated in the 1930s by French hardware store owner and pendulum dowsing author Antoine Bovis.

Pyramid should be oriented correctly with one of its face facing the north and the base should be perfectly aligned with the needle of a compass, Cosmic Energy gets more accumulated at 1/3rd height from the base of the Pyramid, the so called King's Chamber region.

In 2005, an episode of MythBusters a test of pyramid power was performed, using pyramids built according to the specifications found in the Great Pyramid. Of course the show busted the myth, but strangely enough a half apple placed under the pyramid rots slower than the half they left in the open, force them to remake the experiment, and they didn’t perform the seed growth experiment (this one always worked in my tests as seen in my 1982 annotations caught on photo).

There are lots and lots of pyramids in Egypt… And around the world:

Pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico – one of the new 7 wonders of the World

"El Casillo", the Pyramid of Chichen Itza was constructed by the pre-Columbian Maya society between the 10th and 13th centuries AD
Mexico amazing historical Pyramid Chichen Itza was constructed by the pre-Columbian Maya someday among the 10th and 13th centuries AD, El Castillo served as a temple to the god Kukulkan, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent deity carefully associated with the deity determine Quetzalcoatl identified to the Aztecs and different important Mexican cultures of the Postclassic period.

Chichen Itza can be a step pyramid with a floor plan of squared terraces with stairways up each of the 4 facets to the temple on top. Nice sculptures of plumed serpents run down the edges of the northern staircase, and are set off by way of shadows from the nook stages at the spring and autumn equinoxes. Chichen Itza, this pyramid has 91 steps on 3 of the perimeters and 92 on the north staircase, which provides as much as 365 steps, or days of the year.

The Mexican executive restored the pyramid in the 1920s and 1930s, concurrent with the Carnegie Establishment’s restoration of the Temple of Warriors. Archaeologists had been in a position to reconstruct two sides of this Chichen Itza pyramid in their entirety.
Luiz Pagano travel to to Chichen Itza Sep/1994

Through digging from the top, they discovered another temple buried beneath the current one. Within the Chichen Itza temple chamber is a Chac Mool statue and a throne in the shape of jaguar, painted red with spots made from inlaid jade. The Mexican government excavated a tunnel from the base of the north staircase, up the in advance pyramid’s stairway to the hidden temple, and opened it to tourists.

In up to date years, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), which manages the archaeological website online of Chichen Itza, has been final monuments to public access. At the same time as visitors can stroll round them, they may be able to no longer climb them or pass within their chambers. Mountaineering El Castillo used to be halted in 2006 after an 80-year old woman fell to her death. On the similar time INAH closed the general public access to the throne room.
The staircases rise at an angle of 45 degrees to the horizontal, while the average inclination of the stepped pyramid itself is 53.3 degrees.

The faces of the individual steps are sloped at a greater angle, approximately 73 degrees.

Counting the top platform as an additional step gives a total of 365 steps: 1step for each day of the year
- The nine main platforms of the pyramid are thought to represent the 18 months of the haab, and the 52 panels represent the number of years it takes for a calendar round date to recur.

Height: 24m - top platform (+6m with the temple);

The construction is 24 m high, the square base measures 55.3 m across;

The temple at the top of the pyramid is 6 m high, 13.42 m wide, and 16.5 m long.

The Pyramid of Kukulcan also has some facts imprinted on its structures:

- The days of the year

El Castillo's design is thought to relate to the Mayan calendar. Each of the four faces incorporates a broad, steep staircase consisting of 91 steps that ascends to the top platform. Counting the top platform as an additional step gives a total of 365 steps: 1step for each day of the year.

- Indicates equinoxes

The shadow-serpent appear the slide down the steps of the north balustrade.
The word for a snake's rattle, Tzab, is the same word for the Pleiades. In addition, research by Jose Diaz Bolio indicated that some Yucatecan rattlesnakes have a strange little three-dot marking in a circle near the rattlel. This symbol was read by Bolio as a solar ahau face, a symbol of the sun. Now, when the serpent shadow appears, if we wish to imagine the snake's tail, it must pierce the temple on top of the pyramid (the fifth, central direction-the zenith direction) and then it points up into the center of the sky (see diagram). Since the rattle is called tzab (Pleiades) and the three-dot ahau face design is the sun, the symbolism states unequivocally: sun and Pleiades in the zenith.

This alignment doesn't occur on the equinoxes, but at Chichen Itza it occurs on May 20th in the 21st century. The point is that the pyramid "points", with this symbolism, to an astronomical alignment that occurs in a specific precessional era. As such, the Pyramid of Kukulcan is a precessional star clock constructed in stone.

Pyramids of Louvre

The third pyramid I would like to mention is the Louvre pyramid, a modern large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard (Cour Napoléon) of the Louvre Palace. Was commissioned by the President of France François Mitterrand in 1984, it was designed by the architect I. M. Pei.

The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it were created because of a series of problems with the Louvre's original main entrance, which could no longer handle an enormous number of visitors on an everyday basis. Visitors entering through the pyramid descend into the spacious lobby then re-ascend into the main Louvre buildings. Several other museums have duplicated this concept, most notably the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

- Louvre Pyramides facts:

The Louvre Pyramid is a pyramid with a square base.
Height: 21.65 m
Length of the base: 35 m
Tilt angle: 51.7 degrees;

- The Legend of 666 windows

This legend has its roots back in the 80s, when the official brochure was published, during its construction; it actually cited the number 666. But it was a mistaken number. The direction of the Louvre Museum confirmed that the complete pyramid has a total of 673 glass plates (603 diamonds and 70 triangles).

David A. Shugart, in other hand, counts 689 3. It was made several statements, leading to varying results, all of them presenting more than 666;

La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid)

It is a magnificent skylight, considered a smaller sibling of the more famous Louvre Pyramid, yet turned upside down.

The pyramid marks the intersection of two main walkways and orients visitors towards the museum entrance. Tensioned against a 30-ton, 13.3-meter square steel caisson frame, the inverted pyramidal shape in laminated glass points downward towards the floor. The tip of the pyramid is suspended 1.4 meters (a little more than 4.5 feet) above floor level. Individual glass panes in the pyramid, 30 mm thick, are connected by stainless-steel crosses 381 mm in length. After dark, the structure is illuminated by a frieze of spotlights.

Directly below the tip of the downwards-pointing glass pyramid, a small stone pyramid (about one meter/three feet high) is stationed on the floor, as if mirroring the larger structure above: The tips of the two pyramids almost touch.

Brown was not the first writer to offer esoteric interpretations of the Inverted Pyramid. In Raphaël Aurillac's work Le guide du Paris maçonnique the author declares that the Louvre used to be a Masonic temple. To Aurillac, the various glass pyramids constructed in recent decades include Masonic symbolism. Aurillac sees the downward-pointing pyramid as expressing the Rosicrucian motto V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Visita Interiorem Terrae Rectificandoque / Invenies Occultum Lapidem, "Visit the interior of the earth and… you will find the secret stone"). Another writer on Masonic architecture, Dominique Setzepfandt, sees the two pyramids as suggesting "the compass and square that together form the Seal of Solomon" (quoted in Code Da Vinci: L'enquête by Marie-France Etchegoin and Frédéric Lenoir),
Luiz Pagano at Louvre Aug 2010

Whether it is built to consolidate power of the Pharaoh or to accumulate the energy of the universe, fact is that the pyramids will be always related as a symbol of mystery and power of our planet.

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