Dashur

Dashur

The Bent Pyramid

As we saw on the previous page, the Bent Pyramid at Dashur is also attributed to the pharaoh Snefru, father of Khufu, and we have noted the problems with this idea. Personally, I found this the most impressive pyramid outside of the Giza complex – it is still in a remarkable state of preservation with a lot of its casing stones still intact. The quality of jointing and smoothness of the casing stones catches the eye, and helps one visualise the effect of the completed sturcture as it must have looked over four thousand years ago.

This unique pyramid’s sides measure just under 602 feet, and it reaches a hight of  344.4 feet. The sides slope upwards at an initial angle of 53 degrees 27′ from the base of the monument to just below half its total height, and then at the shallower angle of 43 degrees 23′ from there to the apex. These two different angles of inclination have been interpreted by Egyptologists, (and indeed appear in standard reference works), as a “change of plan” by the builders halfway into the project. While this is entirely possible, there is not one single piece of evidence to support this theory, and therefore it is worrying to see this supposition articulated as fact in so many books and guides. It does seem unlikely that the architects and builders of a monument of this magnitude (over 3 million tons of stone), could have made such an elementary design error. So it is possible that this was the case, but it is alsoequally possible that this is exactly what the pyramid was originally designed to look like.

A clue to the unusual external design of this structure could lie in its unusual  internal design. The  Bent pyramid is unique amoung Egyptian true pyramids in that it has twoentrances – one in the North face (as was customary), and one in the West face. These entrances lead down to two completely separate sets of internal chambers via descending passages, and seem to suggest a deliberately planned duality in design, which is matched of course, by the external design.

Once again, no trace of a sarcophagus or a burial has ever been found in this pyramid.

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The Osirion – Abydos

The Osirion – Abydos

The Osirion, Abydos The Osirion is located at Abydos, behind, below and connected to the Temple of Seti I. When  archaeologists like Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray were working at Abydos in the early 20th century, they discovered the Osirion by accident while excavating Seti’s Temple. The Osirion was originally constructed at a much lower level than the foundations of Seti’s temple, and although orthodox Egyptologists regard the two as contemporary, there is ample evidence that this is definately NOT the case. This evidence will be discussed later in this section. The Osirion is also known as the Tomb of Osiris, just as Seti’s temple is known as the Temple of Osiris . Abydos was the chief seat of worship of Osiris, Lord of the Underworld. Osiris, his sister Isis, and their son Horus were fundamental figures in the religion of ancient Egypt – they were neterw, a race of devine beings that ruled Egypt from way before the 1st Dynasty, from a period known as Zep Tepi, the “First Time”. Below is a diagram of the layout of the Osirion, “borrowed” from The Traveller’s Guide to Ancient Egypt, by John Anthony West. The Osirion was orignally meant to be entered from the Transverse passageway leading from the back of Seti’s temple, but nowdays the passageway is not open to the public, and the tourist must exit Seti’s temple at the rear, climb up, and approach the Osirion from above at modern ground level. The first thing that strikes the visitor is the enormous size of the red granite  blocks used in its construction, and it is easy to draw architectural parallels with similar megalithic structures, like the Valley Temple, and the Sphinx Temple at Giza. The similarities are inescapable – the stark and simple megalithic design, the lack of prolific inscriptions, and the fact that some of the larger stone blocks weigh up to 100 tons. Osirion01-thmOsirion02-thmcells01-thmOsirion03-thmOsirion-Jon-thmOsirion09-thmOsirion10-thmOsirion14-thmOsirion12-thmOsirion13-thm

The Valley Temple

The Valley Temple

Just in front of, and to the right of the Great Sphinx, are two awesome megalithic temples, known as the Sphinx Temple, and the Valley Temple. Although both of these buildings are remarkable for their sheer magnitude and incredible megaliths, the following section will concentrate on the Valley Temple, as the Sphinx Temple was off-limits to tourists at the time of our visit.

The Valley Temple

The Valley Temple at Giza, traditionally attributed to the Pharaoh Khafre, is an absolute wonder of engineering, and its distinctive architectural style identifies it as being among the oldest stone buildings in Egypt, if not the world. The only other known parallels in Egypt are the Sphinx Temple right next to it, and the mysterious Osirion at Abydos, in Upper Egypt.

What makes the Valley Temple so remarkable, is the sheer size of the stones used in its construction, and the incredible number of them used. The temple itself is roughly square, measuring 147 feet on each side, and it is built into the slope of the plateau with the height of its exterior walls rising from just over 20 feet on the west side, to over 40 feet on the east side. Its core structure is built entirely of huge limestone blocks, hundreds of them, regularly exceeding 200 tons each in weight, the equivalent of nearly  300 family-sized cars!

Not content with using hundreds of 200-ton blocks of limestone, the builders of the Valley Temple had also managed to lift these huge stones to heights of over 40 feet! To give some kind of perspective, the largest sarsen stones at the famous Stonehenge in Southern England weigh a mere 50 tons, and they were not lifted to anywhere near these heights. The engineering logistics are simply incredible.

It is a fact, which is accepted by Egyptologists, that the huge limestone megaliths used in the construction of the Valley temple, came from the trench excavated from the bedrock by the builders of the Sphinx (as described later in the section “The Great Sphinx”) This has been confirmed by rock strata analysis. In other words, the two monuments arecontemperaneous, they must have been built at the same time. Egyptologists, as mentioned earlier attribute the building of the Valley Temple to the Pharaoh Khafre (2520-2494 BC). This is because a diorite statue of this pharaoh was found inside the temple, buried upside-down in a pit. As far as convincing evidence goes, this hardly ranks very highly – indeed there exists a passage of text in hyroglyphs on an artefact known as the Inventory Stella, which implies that the Valley Temple (and the Sphinx), already existed during the reign of Khufu, who ruled more than 30 years before Khafre.

We know that most of the construction undertaken by the know historical Dynasties of Egypt has been embellished with inscriptions and decoration, paying homage to deities as well as the Pharaohs responsible for their construction. One need only look at the magnificent tombs and temples of the Valley of the Kings for evidence of this. So how do we date thisuninscribed and otherwise anonymous monument? By the mere presence of a statue, which could easily be intrusive?

A pragmatic and logical mind demands more evidence than this, and this is where the empirical science of geology can help us out. An astonishing fact about the Valley Temple is that its construction appears to have been in two stages – its huge limestone megaliths (of the original construction) have been encased with granite facing stones. These are mostly intact on the inside of the temple, but on the outside they have mostly fallen away, revealing an amzing clue as to the age of the structure; that is, the granite casing stones, on the side facing the limestone blocks, had been cut in peaks and troughs, to fit the existing erosional patterns of the limestone core blocks. In other words, when the granite facing was added, the limestone core was already heavily eroded, implying that the core block were already vastly old when this renovation took place.

The fact of the matter is, no solid evidence exists for the reliable attribution of this temple to Khafre, and, as we shall see with the Great Sphinx, the evidence of a far greater antiquity for these monuments keeps stacking up.