The pyramids of Giza. The last of the Seven Wonders of the World. They have spawned endless speculation into the methods of their construction and purpose. Much of it bizarre: Aliens built it. It’s a power plant. A weapon. Vault of lost knowledge.
This all makes for a lot of absurd — I mean interesting — speculation. And occasional fun fiction. In this case, though, fact is far more interesting.
In The Secret of the Great Pyramid, Egyptologist Bob Brier chronicles the quest of architect Jean-Pierre Houdin to unlock the secret of the Great Pyramids assembly. Rather than resorting to stargates and levitation, Houdin looked at it with an eye honed by design and engineering: Moving and raising blocks is physics. No advanced math is needed. No spaceships either. That doesn’t mean it was easy.
Realize that Egyptians wrote about nearly everything, except how they built pyramids, which adds even more to their mystique. Brier recounts their history, which began with others before those at Giza. A bit of science, a bit of trial and error. Eventually it was perfected. I won’t reveal the details here, but it seems we may have long been looking for an answer too complicated. Sometimes simple is all that is needed.
Perhaps most fascinating is that pyramids came early in Egyptian history rather than later. We continue to learn that the ancients were quite intelligent. Too often we look back and down on those who have faded into history — “chronological snobbery” C.S. Lewis called it. They were smart, just had a different level of technology and knowledge base. Discoveries continue to show that mankind’s intelligence existed very early, if not from the beginning.
Our modern nations have existed for an eye-blink in time. Will we approach the longevity of ancient empires? Or will we be crushed under the weight of our misplaced stones?
So perhaps the pyramids carry a message after all.
Categories: Ancient Sites, History, Origins of Man, Prehistory
Tags: Bob Brier, Egypt, Giza, Jean-Pierre Houdin, Khufu, Nile, Pyramids, Seven Wonders of the World
The status and sophistication of the hominid species Neanderthal has been a matter of debate for decades. Once thought to be an ancestor man, genetic studies show it to be unrelated, though some studies have shown possible limited interbreeding. But how advanced were they? They existed for over a 100 millenia and went extinct about the same time man was making his big push across the globe. One recent study concludes they were building boats. They are the only other known hominid to ever approach man’s abilities.
Like all other hominids and primates, they pose a bit of problem for evolution in that they appear suddenly in history. The “family tree” of man is technically made up of assumed connections between bone fragments. Even though largely not considered man’s ancestor, they are often still referred as a “cousin” or such to fit into the evolutionary paradigm. This why some creationists still pretend they are humans in spite of the evidence. Taking this track instead of focusing on the more obvious problems doesn’t make a lot sense. I suspect this is just to fit this mysterious species into their own flawed interpretation of Earth’s history.
So where do neanderthals fit into the picture? How advanced did they get? Were they simply the latest in a long line of increasingly advanced primates, as some have suggested, designed to prepare the world for man? No evidence of religion or similar levels of sentience is known among them. Their use of simple tools is not unheard of in the animal world. But boats?
We pretend we have explained man’s past and the other beings we share the planet with. It takes only a quick glance to find that each new discovery has only proven we know very little.
It was religion that first said we all originated from the same ancestors, in one location and that intelligence and religion existed from the beginning. Science and history have caught up and verified these claims. Yet many still close one eye to the flaws and holes in evolution and young-earth creationism.
Perhaps someday people will allow facts lead to where they may without trying to bend them around a preconceived conclusion.
[For more on man’s past, see Who was Adam?.]
Ancient artifacts found in the Arabian Peninusula are altering the origins of early man.
Notice that genetics show man appeared 70,000 years ago in Arabia, give or take a few thousand, and these finds seem to support that (and push the date to the earliest that genetics usually allows for). Adherents to the “Out of Africa” theory, however, continue to make a leap of faith and connect the two (Africa and Arabia). Why? Not because of progressive evidence connecting the two, but because the philosophical underpinnings of their theory demands it. This really isn’t science. For more on the controversy of man’s origins, see Who was Adam?.
We often hear about theories of lost advanced civilizations. Ironically, evidence continues to pile up showing that humans have always been like we are now, physically and mentally. There seems to be less and less room for the dumb caveman stereotype. So was man set back a few times by disaster? Science and history seem to indicate that. Of course, the sudden appearance of humans who weren’t so dumb 80,000 – 200,000 years ago (depending on who’s counting) goes contrary to evolutionary theory. Read the latest here. Adding to the discussions and debates is the problem of mixing non-human hominids, or ones similar to us, to studies and datings. Ultimately, however, mankind still reaches back further than most have ever imagined. Read more on the origins of man in Who was Adam?.