Tag Archives: Ancient Egypt

New Evidence Neither Aliens Nor Nephilim Were Needed to Built the Pyramids

It made me sad to even have to type that post heading. But let’s face it. It’s news to a lot of people.

Headlines of this sort have been drawing a lot of attention in recent days: Ancient Papyrus Reveals How The Great Pyramid Of Giza Was Built. It’s significant news. The papyrus was actually published a while ago. It seems to be getting recycled because of some new TV shows on the pyramid. The papyrus has been named the “Diary of Merer.” The above news link summarizes its importance:

Merer described how the limestone was taken from Tora on boats, one of which was uncovered at the foot of the pyramids. Stone blocks were ferried across the Nile in a series of purpose-built canals that delivered them as close to the construction site as possible. They were then rolled over on special tracks. The same type of boats might have also been used to transport the granite from Aswan.

Basically, this is primary source evidence on how the blocks were moved to the job site.

In an effort to get you better information than the normal news outlets, here are two articles accessible online about the papyrus and its implications. Enjoy!

Colin Reader, “A Potentially Significant Dimension Recorded on an Old Kingdom Papyrus from Saqqara,” Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture 2 (2017): 9-17

Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard, “The Harbor of Khufu,” Near Eastern Archaeology 77:1 (2014): 3-13

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No, the Nephilim Did Not Build the Pyramids

Well, this is soul-crushing.

My thanks to Jason Colavito for once again directing our attention to awful thinking and helping us think more clearly about it. His post (Did the Nephilim Build the Pyramids? Or Were They Woolly Mammoths?) is about a video documentary produced by Justen Faull (The Fourth Watch podcast). Here’s an interesting follow-up by Jason to that post: An Early Argument that Cro-Magnons Were the Nephilim.

I’ve been on Justen Faull’s podcast before. He knows that I don’t buy into a lot of what he does on that show. This is a classic example. But let me be clear. The idea that the nephilim built the pyramids is absurd, demonstrably false, and unbiblical in the extreme. Humans did have the technology to build the pyramids and other similar structures. The pyramids were also not built by Jewish slaves in Egypt during the biblical sojourn, an idea that violates the Bible’s own ancient chronology (recall that embarrassing claim by Dr. Ben Carson). It’s the sort of nonsense that gives biblical study (and the Bible for that matter) a bad name.

Honestly, when I see things like this it makes me question whether I have any positive impact on Christian Middle Earth at all. Why must Christians go along with the rest of the wider culture, rushing headlong to irrationality? Belief in the supernatural is not incompatible with reason. We have millennia of coherent, logical, philosophical thinking in defense of that assertion (leaving theology aside for the sake of the argument). But the world now hates reason. And it seems Christians are more than willing to ape the world in this (among other) respects.

Like I said — soul-crushing.

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Ancient Egyptian Demonology Project

Those of you interested in demonology will want to be aware of this emerging resource: the ancient Egyptian “demonbase.” The landing page description reads in part:

For the first time, we bring you a sample of supernatural beings—some fully human, some animal hybrids, some objects—to explore! There are three versions of the catalogue and we would be interested to know which you prefer.

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The Sphinx 800,000 Years Old? A Good Lesson on How Alternative Historians Select Their Data

You may have seen this item enthusiastically recently reported on the Ancient Code site: “Scientists: Geological evidence shows the Great Sphinx is 800,000 years old.” Ancient Code is a repository of fringe archaeology. Surprise!

What Ancient Code doesn’t tell you is revealed in this essay by Jason Colavito: “Why Are So Many Interested Now in a 2008 Claim about the Sphinx’s Age? Colavito writes in part:

. . . the two authors did not conduct any field testing to reach their conclusions. Instead, they say that they re-dated the monument based on a “visual investigation” (i.e. visiting the Sphinx and looking at it) and “reading the literary sources.” They based their conclusion on a comparison of the Sphinx, in a desert environment, with rock walls around the Black Sea, in an environment that differs in pretty much every conceivable way. Nevertheless, they argue that the undulating pattern of erosion on the Sphinx is not the work of wind and sand working differentially on rock layers of different hardness but rather the work of waves that accomplished the same task in a time when Giza was flooded.

They conclude that when the Sphinx was carved, Giza must have been like the Black Sea is today, and therefore this could only have occurred 750,000 years ago. The argument runs thus: If we assume that waves were necessary to create the erosion pattern (because it looks similar to the erosion pattern on the Black Sea coast), then we would need a water level at least 160 m higher than the current sea level to flood the Sphinx;therefore, this could only have occurred 750,000 years ago, the last time the sea was so high. As you can see, the problem is the initial if, based as it is on a “looks like therefore is” line of reasoning, without geochemical or any other type of proof to substantiate it.

They also do not explain how the Sphinx, which continues to deteriorate and erode in the desert environment to this day, survived 750,000 years almost intact while undergoing much more damaging erosion in historical times except that they feel that sand erosion, which is known to have occurred, was much more damaging than their proposed hundreds of thousands of years of water erosion.

When you drill down into their paper, it becomes clear that they never considered alternative hypotheses, nor did they attempt to find proof that only submersion in a giant lake could achieve the erosion they describe.

Sigh.

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Mike Interviewed on the Alexxcast

You can listen to the interview here. The planned subject was ancient astronaut material, but the interview wound up going in all sorts of directions.

Toward the end I talk about the importance of peer-review in scholarly publishing. I mentioned Robert Bauval’s Orion correlation theory as an example of what ought to happen — someone from an alternative perspective submits their ideas to peer review. Experts are smart enough to know if what’s being submitted is worth talking about, and Bauval has been published in journals like Discussions in Egyptology. Bauval is living proof that (in the humanities at least) the peer review process doesn’t just reflexively reject alternative ideas. Most (all?) mainstream Egyptologists don’t buy Bauval’s theory, but it was still published and has drawn a lot of interaction. Most of the interaction has occurred in journals that are not freely accessible to the public (I’ve collected at least thirty articles). But here are two examples that are publicly accessible:

G. Magli, “Akhet Khufu: Archaeo-astronomical hints at a common project of the two main pyramids of Giza, Egypt” (Akhet Khufu = “the horizon of Khufu” in ancient Egyptian)

G. Magli, “On the possible discovery of precessional effects in ancient astronomy

No aliens needed, by the way. This is all naked-eye astronomy and math.

 

 

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Review of Prof. Maurice Casey’s Scholarly Critique of the Work of Jesus Mythicists

I blogged a short time ago to alert readers about this book. Maurice Casey was a New Testament scholar and Aramaic specialist. He was also nowhere close to being a “Bible believer” – the sort of people that Jesus mythicists love to mock. It’s Casey doing the mocking here. All the familiar mythers (e.g., Acharya S) are in the cross-hairs and fare rather poorly.

Dr. James McGrath recently reviewed Casey’s book. The review (and of course the book) tracks through all the well-worn bogus methods and argumentation made by the tiny-but-vocal Jesus mythicist clique (think the Zeitgeist nonsense). Here’s one of McGrath’s concluding paragraphs:

I suspect that many will find the tone of Casey’s volume rather too acerbic—especially if they  have  never  had  to  deal  with  online  mythicists  themselves.  One  must  keep  in  mind the  risks  that  were  involved  in  writing  a book  like  this.  As  scientists  and  historians  who have tackled pseudoscholarship of other sorts have often learned, the very act of engaging proponents  of  these  views,  even  in  the  interests  of  debunking  them,  can  seem  to  add credibility  to  their  claims,  since  they  are  being  deemed  “worthy  of  engaging  with.” It seems  to  me  that  Casey’s  approach,  while  not  above  criticism,  strikes  an  important balance. He took the highly problematic character of mythicism seriously enough that he thought  it  worth  showing  unambiguously  why  it  does  not  deserve  to  be  taken  seriously. Casey shows in detail the ways in which mythicism is not merely wrong in the ways that scholars are often wrong but rather grossly incompetent, shoddily argued and evidenced, utterly lacking in plausibility, and often seeming to willfully distort the evidence, all while its proponents maliciously malign mainstream scholars.

Amen. Been there many times.

McGrath’s review is an excellent overview of the book, which is must reading for anyone who’s been annoyed or disturbed by the claims of those who insist Jesus never existed.

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Did Ancient Egyptians Identify Themselves as a Black Race?

I know I blogged about this recently, but I came across the item below today and thought I’d post it now instead of later. As to the question in the post title ….

 

Short answer: No. Anyone who has look at Egyptian art knows that Egyptians portrayed foreigners as that color.

Longer answer: The question arises from a  modern notion of race, popularized by Afrocentrist approaches to history.

That’s basically what this Miami University of Ohio thesis has argued:

Mwanika Ancient Egyptian Identity

The author is Eva Nthoki Mwanika, who works as a Program Coordinator at the Executive Education at Harvard University. According the university website:

Eva was born and raised In Nairobi, Kenya and came to the United States in 2002 to pursue graduate studies. Eva holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in World History and Linguistics from the University of Nairobi, Kenya; a Masters degree in Ancient History from Miami University, Ohio and a Masters degree in Semitic Languages from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Massachusetts. Eva likes to travel and learn about different languages, cultures and people. She spent fall of 2006 in Israel and the surrounding regions. She enjoys reading, movies, music and engaging in current global events.

Here is the abstract:

This thesis looks at the approaches Afrocentrists and their critics have used in the investigation of ancient Egyptian identity. These scholars’ approach has mainly focused on the Egyptians’ racial characteristics. I argue, however, that this emphasis on the ancient Egyptians’ physiognomy is not only an imposition of a modern term “race” on a people who had a different world view but also that the ancient Egyptian self-perception has been largely ignored. In contrast, based on an analysis of ancient Egyptian art, literature and inscriptions, I propose an approach to ancient Egyptian self-perception within the context of the characteristic of appearance, manner, mind, familial and other social relations that have been ascertained from the historical context of the person in question. Thus this analysis provides an evidence-based, non-anachronistic understanding of the ancients, and concludes that the ancients had a non-racial self-perception and worldview.

Think of that: “an evidence-based, non-anachronistic understanding of the ancients.” What a concept!

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