Re: Eygptology

From: joel.laird@bristol.ac.uk
Date: 02 Oct 1998
Time: 05:51:45
Remote Name:


Hello Christopher, Unfortunately the Egyptians left no record of how they built the pyramids, so no-one really knows. However, an ancient Greek historian, called 'Heroditus', reckoned the biggest pyramids were built by tens of thousands of slaves over a period of twenty years. The archeological evidence suggests that the builders were in fact skilled master craftsmen who used stone tools and wooden wedges to pound and split the rocks into blocks. Many of the blocks were limestone and could be quarried nearby. Some were granite, such as those in the King's chamber of the Great Pyramid which were quarried and brought from Aswan in the south of Egypt. This is a long way to carry a granite block and so it was probably floated down the Nile in a boat. As there is no evidence of pulleys being used to lift the blocks, it is assumed they were positioned on sleds and pushed up ramps. A good source of information concerning the dead's tests and ordeals is the 'Papyrus of Ani'. This text was written for Ani, who was a scribe, to prepare him for the afterlife. It is in fact a copy of the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead' that was given to all important people. One particular scene from the book is very important and involves the 'Weighing of the Heart'. Here the dead person's heart is weighed against a feather. The feather represents 'Maat', the goddess of truth and justice. Recording the outcome of the weighing is the god of writing and wisdom, called 'Thoth'. If his heart is heavier than the feather then the deceased has led a bad life and will be eaten by a crocodile, leopard, baboon type creature - I am not sure what this is supposed to be. Ani passes this test and so his soul can join Osiris, god of the Underworld, in the afterlife for eternity. I hope this is of some help to you, Joel.