Pyramids = tombs? No!

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Ra-Mont
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Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Ra-Mont »

A small part of the book I'm putting together deals with Egypt's pyramids, so routinely described as royal tombs by Egyptologists. Yet when I came to make a study of them, it became obvious to me that, whatever they were built for, the pyramids were almost certainly never used as tombs by any of the kings who supposedly commissioned them. The so-called 'burial chambers' of the Giza pyramids, for instance are so dank and featureless I'm sure, if you'll pardon the pun, no king of Egypt would have been seen dead in them. A glance at the walls of tombs of the Kings' Valley tells us that Egypt's royal dead needed to be surrounded in death by images of themselves active and happy in an afterlife. Yet the Giza pyramid 'burial chambers' are devoid of such imagery, giving off just a hostile coldness.

'Ah, but bodies have been found!,' is a common response when I express the view that the pyramids were never intended as tombs. Yes, bodies have been found. But do they belong to Egyptian royalty? An oft-quoted example is the supposed finding of 'King Djoser's mummy' inside his famous step pyramid at Saqqara. In fact, between the years 1821 and 1926, excavations yielded a gilded slipper, a human skull, splinters of bone from a foot and an upper arm with 'a few bits of skin' attached. The remains of King Djoser? Well, as far as I'm concerned those could be the remains of his cleaning lady. I need more than that before I start shouting 'royal mummy'. There was also the body of a young boy, undated, lying in a wooden coffin in a shaft near the afforesaid remains. This, I suppose, helped to promote the common belief that the pyramids were intended as tombs. But one of several explanations for the boy's presence is that he was put in there later by loved ones who had come to believe the 'royal tomb' story and were desirous of improving his chances of an afterlife.

At Abu Sir, the unfinished pyramid of the 5th-Dynasty King Neferefre yielded what have been called 'fragments of the ruler's mummy'. Tests have linked these to a male aged 20-24, but no carbon dating seems to have been done. And even if the remains were dated to the 5th Dynasty, without a name they cannot be put forward as proof of royal burial. Similar finds were made in the pyramid of Djedkare Isesi at Saqqara -- fragments of a middle-aged man, undated and with no links to royalty other than he was found in a king's pyramid. A few more human bits and pieces were encountered in the pyramid of Unas. The king himself? I say not a chance. Perhaps another late intrusive burial, or even the body of a servant whose role it was to greet the king's spirit when it made its nightly entrance into the pyramid (but that's another chapter).

In the pyramid of Unas and those of his 6th Dynasty successors, we have the famous Pyramid Texts. These more than anything seem to have convinced Egyptologists that the pyramids were tombs -- end of story. There can be no denying that they were intended to be read over the body of a dead king, present in the pyramid itself. Indeed they were. But, as Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying: 'Never assume'. Kings' mummies were taken into those pyramids all right; but that doesn't mean that they weren't taken out again. In fact, reading the Pyramid Texts in the correct order (very important!) told me that this is just what happened. The royal bodies were taken inside, something special was done to them (I can't reveal what here) then they were taken back outside for interment elsewhere. Again from the Pyramid Texts, I think I know the region in which those dead kings and queens lie, but I couldn't point to a spot and tell archaeologists to 'dig here'.

So, there is a synopsis, if you like, of my theories regarding Egypt's pyramids. I'm absolutely certain, given those crude 'burial chambers' at Giza that their purpose as tombs can be ruled out. However, if grander, well decorated chambers containing royal bodies were to be discovered somewhere underneath the pyramids, then so be it. Right now, however, everything I've seen and read about Egypt's pyramids tells me that dead kings envisaged them as having more to do with the spirit, the ka, than as a resting place for their mortal remains.

R.J.T.



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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Horus »

I would say that I could go along with a large part of what you are proposing, I have always considered the pyramids themselves to be more like ‘resurrection machines’ than actual tombs. I am sure that somewhere along the way the function changed from simple mastabas that certainly did contain the earthly remains of rulers as did to some of the earlier pyramids such as king Djoser, at Saqquara which was after all just an elaborate series of mastabas.

Also if we take the three pyramids constructed by the Pharaoh Sneferu, one (Meidum) was apparently abandoned after the sides catastrophically collapsed during or soon after construction. Another one (The Bent Pyramid) had to have it’s incline radically changed after problems arose during construction and led to the construction of the final one of his reign (the Red Pyramid). This says to me that these were in fact intended as burial chambers, but this new construction technology could not be trusted to preserve the Kings body for millennia. Any of the three pyramids would have been suitable for use (even with their flaws) if they had only served a ceremonial purpose and not been used for the actual burial., the fact that he put so much effort into getting it right convinces me that they were intended as tombs.

Of course all these proceed the Giza pyramids by about 100 years and I have to agree that in some ways this complex does not quite fit the accepted idea of a tomb due to its lack of hieroglyphic texts or spells on the walls. That does not rule out their use as burial chambers as every effort was made to make them secure, for example the granite blocking stones in the main gallery which would have been pointless unless they contained something precious such as the Pharaohs body.

My own view is that at the time less emphasis was put on the magical aspect of spells and incantations for the pharaoh to use in the afterlife and therefore no need for the texts to be inscribed upon the walls, because all of this had already been done for him by the priests when he was interned. The construction of the Great Pyramid was such that the so called ‘air shafts’ were intended to allow the kings Ka & Ba to travel to the stars (Osiris) and to still be able partake in normal everyday life and to leave and enter the pyramid via these shafts, so there was no need for any text.

By the time of Unas some 200 years later it is quite conceivable that the religious practices had changed and now included the belief that the Pharaoh had to do battle with the forces of evil in order to pass through the underworld and be resurrected each day. Hence the need for the pyramid texts and the subsequent inclusion of these texts into such things as the ‘Book of the dead’ and the inscriptions on the later and more elaborate rock cut tombs in the V.O.K. and elsewhere.

As I said at the beginning the phrase resurrection machine springs to mind with the Giza pyramids and it is entirely feasible that the kings body was taken into the pyramid for some type of ceremony such as the ‘opening of the mouth’ ritual and maybe even left there for a short duration to allow the Ka to ascend to the heavens to join with Osiris prior to it being removed and buried at Abydos the supposed burial place of Osiris and in effect be united with him. If that were the case then several questions spring to mind, why the blocking stones and other means of concealment including the smooth outer casing stones to hide the entrance? And why did Father, Son & Grandson each feel the need to build one of their own? It’s a bit like our Queen Elizabeth II having another Westminster Abby built for her coronation. Because the Abby was built for such purposes it could be used by many monarchs over many centuries, the same would apply to the pyramids, if they served a purely symbolic or mystical role then why build more than one, especially if it were left empty?

It is certainly an intriguing puzzle that will no doubt baffle us and create more questions than answers.
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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Ra-Mont »

Thanks for your response, Horus.

Myself, I can't accept that being huge and having chambers is sufficient evidence to give the term 'tomb' to any Egyptian pyramid. I would be willing to concede, grudgingly, that Djoser's first effort, his step pyramid, might just have served as that king's tomb. We can see the stacked-up mastaba idea, so perhaps he really did wind up inside and those sparse human remains really do belong to him. If so, I'd contend that it was the plundering of this pyramid which got the Egyptians thinking up ultra-sneaky ideas with a view to foxing the robbers in future and ensuring safety for future kings in death.

Personally, I don't envisage the pyramids as having been 'resurrection machines' as such. In the 15th-century CE, the Arab historian Taqi ad-Din al-Maqrizi took a look at Djoser's step pyramid and remarked it looked like a mountain. I think that was the designer's intention from the start. The Egyptians very early on depicted the god Ra as rising from a 'Mount Bakhau' in the east to set at day's end in a 'Mount Manu' in the west. The hieroglyph for 'heaven/sky' is a representation of the heavens resting on these mounts. Of course, it was every Egyptian king's ideal after death to be taken into Ra's company for this daily journey, following which came the night-time journey through the Netherworld overcoming various perils to rise, again with Ra, at the start of every new day.

So, two mountains were part of the dead king's daily and nightly travels. I believe that the pyramids were constructed to each represent one of those mountains. But which one? Well, with every pyramid standing on the Nile's west bank (traditionally the side of death) they must have been meant to serve as the 'mountain' into which the king's spirit would descend with the setting sun. Those narrow shafts, cut to align with certain stars, must have been put in to facilitate the entry and exit of the royal ka. If I'm correct, then those kings' (and queens') bodies still lie undisturbed (hopefully) in some mountain to the east. I see the pyramids not as 'resurrection machines', then (the 'resurrecting' took place but once with the recitation of the Pyramid Texts), but one of two termini made to be easily visible from the heavens by a royal spirit on the look-out for it.

But perhaps the pyramids performed a secondary function. Perhaps word was put out at the start of construction that they really were intended to hold the king's body after death. Massive security features in the form of those huge blocking stones would have added credence to the story. Once complete and smoothed over with high quality facing stones, they would have presented a formidable target for any would-be robbers. Indeed, it's believed that several were apparenlty entered successfully and illicitely in ancient times. The builders were not at all troubled by that. After all, what lay inside after countless hours of tunneling through stone? More stone. Part of the pyramids' job, then, was to serve as a mighty distraction, focusing attention away from the true burial site with its unimaginable riches.

But what of those many sarcophagi lying even now in so-called 'burial chambers'? (Djoser's 'sarcophagus' when found wasn't even in his 'burial chamber', but was empty in a separate gallery) Well, I don't believe they served as sarcophagi at all. As well as being part of the distraction -- 'look, everyone, we're lowering the sarcophagus into position now!' -- I think they may have served as natron tanks for the soaking of the royal body in the preserving mineral prior to mummification.

R.J.T.

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

@ Ra Mont and H - this thread has been the most interesting reading I've enjoyed on E4U in a long time. Terrific theory RMJ - do please let us know when your book is ready for publishing. I want to read it! :) :) :)

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Ra-Mont »

Glad you find my theory of interest, LovelyLadyLux. If you have an disagreements or points to raise, I hope you'll chip in.

I ended my previous post with reference to the supposed 'sarcophagi' found in many Egyptian pyramids. I consider those stone cases as being strong evidence in support of my theory that the pyramids were never intended as royal burial places. I mentioned above that Djoser's supposed 'sarcophagus' was lying in a gallery apart from his pyramid's 'burial chamber' when found. Why? If robbers had entered that structure in ancient times to find a mummified king there, they would have stripped the body and chamber of any valuables and got out of there as quickly as possible. There is no reason I can think of as to why they would have troubled to carry a stone 'sarcophagus' away from the spot in which it rested. Priests who may have entered to clean up after a robbery would likewise have had no reason to expend energy moving the container.

When the interior of King Khufu's pyramid at Giza was first examined by archaeologists they found his pink granite 'sarcophagus' set in his 'burial chamber' but quite empty and minus any lid. So, where did it go? Any lid fitted to that 'sarcophagus' when it was fashioned would have been made of stone for durability and it would have needed more than one man to carry it. Similar findings have been made in other pyramids. These lidless 'sarcophagi', as well as the out-of-place example of Djoser's, could support my theory that they were, in fact, used for natron soaking of the royal bodies prior to bandaging. But I suppose the possibility also has to be considered that robbers smashed the stone lids in their haste to get to the king's body and priests cleaning up later removed the fragments. So, ideally, 'sarcophagi' need to be found in situ complete with lids sealed in place. That surely would confirm that they were indeed used by Egypt's kings and queens for interment within those pyramids. Or would it?

In 1925, on the east side of Khufu's Great Pyramid, American archaeologist George Reisner's expedition discovered an underground shaft. After hurrying to the site, Reisner excavated what was obviously a burial chamber containing a bed, baskets, chairs, jars and other items. Most exciting, though, was the presence of a huge stone 'sarcophagus' with its heavy lid still in place. Furthermore, it was still sealed; no ancient tomb robber had despoiled whatever lay inside. Examination of hieroglyphs on the furniture’s gold leaf identified its owner as none other than the 4th Dynasty’s Queen Heterpheres I, who was Khufu’s mother and chief wife of his father, King Snefru. Months later, having cleared the tomb of everything but the intact 'sarcophagus', Reisner invited a cramped audience of dignitaries underground to witness the grand opening. A tangible silence fell upon the air as the seals were broken and the massive lid was prised up and aside. But to the surprise of everyone there, the sarcophagus was empty. ‘Gentlemen,’ said a philosophical Reisner, ‘I regret Queen Heterpheres is not receiving.’ [1]

Down at Saqqara is the 3rd-Dynasty step pyramid of King Sekhemket, discovered by Muhammad Zakaria Goneim in 1950. It was in an unfinished state, but in 1955 the archaeologist could barely believe his luck on entering the ‘burial chamber’. There before him rested an alabaster 'sarcophagus' accessed by a curious sliding door affair at one end which was still sealed. On the upper surface lay a withered funerary bouquet placed there with mournful reverence some 4,200 years previously. Alas for a perplexed Goneim, on opening the container he found inside it nothing but air. Despite it being sealed on discovery, the empty state of the 'sarcophagus' was attributed by later scholars to robbery. Yet Goneim had previously asserted that the original wall was still blocking the pyramid’s entrance when he found it. [2] No one apparently went in or out between the pyramid’s completion c. 2640 BCE and its exploration in 1950 CE. just south of Giza, at Zawaiyet el Aryan, stand the remains of two 3rd Dynasty pyramids belonging to unknown kings. One of these structures, named ‘the Unfinished’ for obvious reasons, had in its underground chamber an oval sarcophagus. Its polished lid was cemented in place as though in containment of a body but, just like that of Queen Heterpheres, it, too, was empty. Such examples I would propose as support for the idea that potential robbers watching the pyramids' construction were meant to believe that royal bodies were to be placed inside so that they would focus their energies on them.

It surprises me that Egyptology in general adheres doggedly to the pyramid-tombs idea when there is so little evidence in reality to support it. But not all Egyptologists are entirely at ease with toeing the scholarly line. Barbara Mertz, for one, admits that the mystery of Queen Heterpheres I ‘disturbs’ her, because of the ‘other sarcophagi found in place, unopened – and empty.' [3] I think her concern does her credit.

Then there is the testimony of the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus who visited Egypt 60-57 BCE. Inquiring about the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre, he heard a story to the effect that those kings were never buried inside them. He was told that the labour force, 'because of many cruel and violent outrages on the part of these kings, became exasperated with the authors of their misery and threatened to rend their bodies in pieces and cast them forth with violence from their tombs. Therefore each king, on his deathbed, commanded his kinfolk to bury his body secretly in an unmarked grave.' [4] As a paid writer and (unpaid) broadcaster of folklore on an amateur basis, I know that such stories cannot be treated as history, but they do usually contain that vital kernel of truth that will help us better understand our past. In the case of Siculus's tale, I think there may have been some embelleshment wrapped around a simple fact: No matter what grand ceremonies were enacted at their monuments following their deaths, Egypt's 'pyramid kings' in reality received quiet and secretive burials in a mountain or mountains to the east.

R.J.T.





1. Mertz. Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs, pp. 57-61.
2. Verner. The Pyramids, p.147.
3. Ibid, pp. 305-306.
4. The Antiquities of Egypt, 1:64. A translation by Edwin Murphy with notes from Book 1 of the Library of History, by Diodorus Siculus.

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

Ok Ra-Mont you've got me totally mesmerized and convinced! :) Truly, Egyptology and what happened to the Kings and Queens of Egypt is not in the forefront of my mind but I have to admit that after reading your first post on this thread your theory has kept buzzing through my brain. I'm not an expert on this subject at all but what you are saying really makes sense. I've read about the different discoveries and have read, from time to time, different accounts of different kings and queens and have done my share of visiting all the different sites and places to see their burial places and remains etc.

I really think you're onto something and I'm quite enthralled with your theory. It sure makes sense to me. Very interesting.

I do have a question though - what is "natron?"

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Horus »

Although you offer some good arguments Ra-Mont I cannot say that I can go along with some of what you say, for example many people have tried and even perfected the ancient mummification process. One in particular springs to mind and that is the American Egyptologist Bob Brier who is probably the worlds foremost authority on Egyptian mummification techniques and the general consensus is that dry Natron was packed around the body to draw out the moisture and so desiccate the body. It used to be thought that the 70 day process of mummification did involve the submerging of the body in a Natron bath, but this is largely on the evidence of the Greek writer Herodotus who was told these stories and never actually witnessed the events. The actual mummification no doubt came about by the observance of the fact that cadavers buried in the hot dry sands of Egypt became mummified as a result of the desiccation process. When tomb burials became the norm then some other way of drying out the body was required, I am sure that many methods were tried out prior to getting it correct, but I would doubt that submersion in a liquid played much of a part. What you suggest would in fact pickle the corpse rather than draw out the moisture and result in the flesh falling away from the bones. In addition many embalmers caches have been found including the latest discovery in the VOK by Dr. Otto Schaden which was KV 63. I was fortunate to be visiting at the time that they were working on it and although they originally thought it was a new tomb, it actually turned out to be an embalmers cache containing natron salts and bandaging materials.

These caches are very common and anything that had an association with the mummified remains including discarded bandages and salts containing body fluids were considered sacred and so were buried with respect in pits in the ground. Finally the embalming took place in the open air in an embalming tent as depicted in tomb paintings and it was such a common a practice that the procedure was never written down, contrast that with the embalming of the Apis Bull who’s mummification is documented. People may ask why this was, but the answer is quite simple, in a time when the average lifespan would be less than 40 years, people would be dieing and being embalmed every day and the technique easily passed from father to son so to speak, so everyone knew how it was done. However an Apis Bull may live for nearly 30 years and so they were not embalmed so often and the procedure needed to be written down for the next generation. There are at least two very large alabaster mummification tables near Saquarra and they both feature a shallow rim and a drainage spout at one end, sufficient to drain fluids away, but not deep enough to submerge them either. Neither could the actual sarcophagus tombs inside the Serapeum have been used for such an immersion as we have a very good account from a stele of King Amasis (in the Louvre museum) that is dedicated to the Apis Bull that died during his reign and describes how “After the embalming the mummy was dragged on sledges to be placed in the sarcophagus”

The stele of King Amasis
2692

These tables were also huge in size, far bigger than required for just the body of a bull, but if you wanted to pile natron salts all over it then they were ideal and the dissolved internal organs and fluids could run freely away into the bowl.

Alabaster embalming tables for the Apis Bull
2693

As to the missing lids on sarcophagi, well I don’t really see that as a problem when you consider the timescale involved they could easily become general detritus and even bits of souveniers over the millennia. The moved sarcophagi, again you are assuming that they were actually moved, I can site you several examples of sarcophagi that are not in the burial chamber. One that springs to mind is Merenptah a son of Ramesses II who has a spare sarcophagus part way down the entrance corridor to his burial chamber and it is ‘parked up’ in a side chamber on the right hand side. To the close observer there is no real mystery about it, it can be seen that the original passageway was too narrow for it to pass down and several of the portals had been re-cut to accommodate its passage. Obviously after a while someone decided that the effort required out stripped the effort to make a new sarcophagus, so it was just parked out of the way to allow the replacement to pass down the corridor, so even the ancient Egyptians made mistakes.

Re-sealed sarcophagi are not a new phenomenon and the example you cite of Queen Hetepheres is not necessarily a mystery, if she was originally buried at Dashur (remember she was the wife of Sneferu and mother of Khufu) and her tomb and mummy were destroyed by tomb robbers and he then transferred her remaining funery goods and her empty sarcophagus to a more secure tomb near his (Khufu’s) own pyramid at Giza then that could explain the situation. In fact Reisner himself believed those to be the facts, but others such as Marc Lehner have also put forward plausible theories. He believes that robbers would have smashed the lid and not removed it and believes that marks around the top edge indicate that is had at one time been carefully removed before being resealed again, Canopic jars were also found inside the shaft tomb along with other damaged items including a portable canopy that if erected would have fit almost perfectly into the burial chamber of G1a, which is one of the three small pyramids near to Khufu’s own. So it is more likely that at some time in antiquity when anarchy ruled or in times of invasion, when tombs and pyramids were being robbed that the priests not unlike what happened in Luxor with the Deir El Bahri cache of mummies, removed her and her possessions from the pyramid to another location (the shaft tomb) which probably existed before the pavement of the Khufu pyramid had covered it over, but who’s location was still known to the priests. That could also explain why all the tomb goods were found placed in reverse order as would be expected if someone were just transferring items out of one place and into a nearby adjacent one. The careful removal could be the result of the priests taking the mummy out of the sarcophagus for burial elsewhere before resealing it in the shaft chamber. Again I refer back to the fact that the Luxor cache was purely the bodies of the Pharaohs labelled up like parcels for safe keeping, what remained in their tombs such as sarcophagi was left there.

One part that I would agree with is that many of the Pharaohs received secretive and quite burials in the mountains, but I would maintain that this was at a later date and done by the priests during times of strife. We have to remember that even the pharaohs of the Deir El Bahri cache would have had no indication of what happened to their ancestors a millennium before their own time, we only know of these major events due to recent historical discoveries. I believe that at the time of his burial each ruler would have truly believed that he had secured his eternity and whatever elaborate plans they had put into practice to secure and protect their afterlife would work, sadly that was not the case.
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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Ra-Mont »

LovelyLadyLux, natron is basically a chrystalline powder made of sodium carbonate and salt harvested from dried-up lake beds in Egypt and other parts of the world. Egyptian bodies to be mummified had prolonged immersion in it prior to bandaging to draw out moisture and enhance preservation.

Horus, my theory that Egypt's pyramids weren't tombs doesn't hinge on those 'sarcophagi' being part of the embalming process, but I'm willing to argue that possibilty some more. I called them 'tanks' for natron because I thought the word 'bath' might imply liquid immersion, which I gather you thought I was suggesting anyway. In fact, I had in mind the idea that the 'sarcophagi' were most likely filled with dry natron after a royal body had been put in to dry it out prior to bandaging. That said, perhaps we can't rule out the possibility of a liquid immersion given the recent findings by Dr Stephen Buckley of the University of York in the UK (Mummifying Alan, Channel 4 Television, 2011). Analysing several New Kingdom mummies, he found crystal deposits underneath the bandages which could only have been so deposited as a result of liquid immersion that strongly reinforced the claims of Herodotus. After carrying out various experiments, Dr Buckley refined the liquid immersion process well enough to embalm and bandage a recently dead taxi driver to a standard befitting Egyptian royalty.

Of course, while we cite the 70-day time period with some confidence, we don't really know for sure what techniques the Egyptians used in perfecting their trick of human mummification, as they passed on its secrets only by word of mouth. It occurred to me that whatever else they may have done, the mummifiers must have used large containers for bodily immersion in the preservative, be it crystalline or liquid. I know of no such human-sized 'tanks' having been discovered in the complexes at the pyramids sites (though perhaps you know of some) which is why I suspect the pyramid 'sarcophagi' might have fulfilled that purpose. Yes, we know more about the preservation of the Apis bulls from the finds you cite above. However, I would use the analogy of a being from another world landing on a deserted Earth in the future and looking for evidence of how we humans handled our dead. If this alien happened upon a written service conducted in a pet cemetery, he would still have little idea of what went on at the funerals of Christians, Jews, Muslims, et al.

The example of the misplaced sarcophagus you cite is New Kingdom VoK (are they all such?). In those tombs sarcophagi had to be dragged in after the main chambers had been cut, so I'm not surprised there was the odd mis-judgement preventing a too-wide sarcophagus reaching its goal. With pyramid building, however, a sarcophagus would have simply been set in the 'burial chamber' as that level was reached and the whole construction put up around it. That leaves the mystery, then, as to how come the 'sarcophagus' of Djoser was dumped in a gallery when it would have been so easy to locate it properly -- if it had been meant as a sarcophagus, that is.

I'm familair with the theory you mention regarding the original burial of Queen Heterpheres having been at Dashur. According to my researches, Egyptologists propose that her body was destroyed during a robbery and officials were fearful of telling King Khufu, so they kept it a secret. That king then ordered her reburial next to his Giza pyramid, unaware that the (resealed) sarcophagus was empty. Personally, I think that story has a smack of desperation about it. The lady's tomb goods and 'sarcophagi' may well have been moved from Dashur, but I doubt she was ever put in that stone coffin. The marks on the top edge observed by Marc Lehner could have been caused by robbers or by many other causes. They could also have been left during the lid's replacement by people keen to conceal the lack of a body. I'm with the theory that her burial, too, was a sham to conceal the fact that she lay with her husband in a mountain miles to the east.

My reading of the Pyramid Texts of Unas (and his successors) made me aware that they weren't part of an interment service as such. The obvious starting point for their reading would appear to be in his pyramid's entrance passageway. However, Maspero and Sethe were of the opinion that they began in the so-called 'sarcophagus chamber'. I agree with them because I think the king's embalming and bandaging took place right there -- hence my belief that the 'sarcophagi' were probably used for his immersion in natron. The short prelimary Utterances in the 'sarcophagus chamber' are followed by many which involve the dead king being provided with the Eye of Horus. I'm sure I know what this was -- ditto the Eye of Ra -- but unfortunately I can't divulge my findings here. Suffice it to say that Egyptologists' impressions of it aren't entirely accurate in that it had the obvious presence in heaven and a surprising one in the hands of men. As the Pyramid Texts continue, the dead king is presented with food and drink of various kinds, then come adornments in the form of precious items which I'm sure were being inserted under the bandages of the king as the Utterances were made. That's why I think he must have been mummified right there. Curiously, the Utterances end in the 'sarcophagus chamber' to be resumed in the pyramid's antechamber. So, given that they were obviously being recited over the king's body, that, too, was moved into the antechamber and away from its supposed place of interment. In an apparent contradiction, as they are read further and further from the 'sarcophagus chamber' the Pyramid Texts focus more and more on the king's coming 'resurrection'. In fact, on leaving the antechamber for the 'entrance passageway', Utterance 310 has the king calling for his celestial ferryboat, translated by Faulkner as 'it-flies-and-alights'. This is repeated in the the very last Utterance made before leaving the pyramid (Utterance 321). I think those Utterances must have been made in the presence of the king's body, so they should have been in the 'sarcophagus chamber' if he really had been intended for burial there.

No, he was being taken out for burial to the east. Farther inside the pyramid the dead king makes it known that: 'And I am ferried over thereon (on reed floats) to yonder eastern side of the sky', Utterance 264. Was he to be bodily transported east, or was he talking about just his ka? Well, in a Text apparently read over his body by his son and heir, there is: 'Awake, stand up at yonder eastern side of the sky at this place where the gods are born, when there comes this time of tomorrow and this time of the third day; my father the king will be born on yonder eastern side of the sky where the gods are born, when there comes this time of tomorrow and this time of the third day', Utterance 556. I read that as meaning that the king's 'resurrection' was seen as taking place on the day after the pyramid ceremonials and it happened to the east after his body had been transported there.

In further support of my theory, I give this link courtesy of Kevininabydos at Luxor4u.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/mid ... story.html

A glance at the tomb walls shows us that Old Kingdom royal tombs were brightly decorated with statues of the deceased. No doubt there are the mandatory afterlife depictions and scenes of gaity. So, while a king's relatives and officials looked forward to burials like this, the king's themselves consigned their bodies to eternity in grimy, depressing unpainted pyramid chambers? I don't believe that for a moment.

R.J.T.

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Horus »

Thanks for the reply Ra-Mont, :) I read your link that Kevin gave you, but I am not sure what I am suppose to make of it or even how it supports your theory, maybe I have missed something?

Your theory is interesting, but I am afraid you have still said very little to convince me that it is any more than that. Maybe in your book you will put forward more evidence, but unfortunately I cannot make comments on parts of your hypothesis that you are keeping to yourself. I can only say that so far as a reasonably informed person when it comes to Egyptology, that unless you can produce more substantial evidence to support your theory then I remain unconvinced. A lot of what you are saying are known fact such as the inserting of amulets between the bandages, it was done during the embalming procedure and the incantations were spoken by a jackal headed priest (Anubis) and this is well documented in many tomb paintings and papyri. Your theory seems to be that the pharaohs were buried elsewhere other than in their actual tombs, if so then why do we have the various mummy caches of past Pharaohs simply recovered from their tombs in the VOK? What made their ‘other’ location any safer than their assumed tombs, especially if they had to be removed at a later date by the priests for safe keeping elsewhere?

Your reference to utterance 264 in supporting your theory is also a little frail, the East is always the direction of rebirth and the West of the dead, it has always been so in Egyptian mythology, so naturally a king or god would be reborn in the East. You seem to be basing all your theory upon texts that are themselves mythological in nature. All of the trials and tribulations and journeys are on a mythical journey of resurrection, they have little or no meaning or reference to actual events or reality. Everything from the ‘opening of the mouth’ ceremony to the weighing of the heart against a feather is all just ritual and myth. No pharaoh has ever really battled with Apophis or had their hearts devoured by Ammit (Ammut) so why should we attach any significance in the real world to any particular utterance from a tomb text? Indeed the Unas texts were the basis for the later tomb texts and the ‘Book of the Dead’ and having a quick flick through my own copy I can see very little in it that would pass for actual reality or fact.

I don’t wish to appear ungracious, but it would seem that the thrust of your book is that the Pyramids (and I assume you only mean the Giza complex) were not actually tombs, but something else? That in itself is not a new theory and had been gone over many times and really only hinges upon the lack of any real text to do with any particular Pharaoh, although we do have Khufu’s name scratched above the granite tomb chamber relieving blocks. Whether or not they were actually interned inside them is always going to be open to speculation, but the presence of sarcophagi, pits containing royal boats plus the elaborate lengths they went to in order to conceal and block the chambers leads me to believe they were. Your theory I assume is suggesting that after the embalming was complete (inside the pyramid) that they were then taken elsewhere to be buried discretely?

If I have understood anything at all about the minds of Egyptian Pharaohs it is their vanity, each one wanted to be seen and remembered for their deeds and went to great lengths to publicise their building achievements, so why would they not want to be buried in the monoliths they created? If it were a simple diversionary tactic to protect the body, then why not just go through an elaborate procedure with any mummified body and leave it in an unguarded tomb for the robbers to plunder while you are secreted away elsewhere, no need for a massive pyramid as what purpose would it serve? The fact is that if we take the Giza pyramids out of the equation then all later Pharaohs were buried in their rock cut tombs, this is well enough documented and only removed after robberies took place, there are even papyri that describe the interrogation and punishment of such tomb robbers. In them they describe how they entered the tombs, smashed open the sarcophagus, plundered the kings body of jewels and even set fire to the tomb furniture to retrieve the gold from it.

The 'Leopold-Amherst Papyrus' records the testimony of the thieves who plundered the tomb of King Sekhemre II and his Queen Nubkhas of the Seventeenth Dynasty, the thieves confessed that they had broken into this tomb, here is a literal translation:

“We went to rob the tombs...and we found the pyramid of king Sekhemre Shedtaui, the son of Re Sebekemsaf, this being not at all like the pyramids and tombs of the nobles which we habitually went to rob”

Note that they are referring to robbing pyramids and tombs, it continues:

“Then we broke through the rubble...and we found this god (king) lying at the back of his burial-place. And we found that the burial-place of Nubkhaas, his queen, situated beside him...We opened their sarcophagi and their coffins in which they were, and found the noble mummy of this King equipped with a falcon; a large number of amulets and jewels of gold were upon his neck, and his head-piece of gold was upon him. The noble mummy of this King was completely bedecked with gold, and his coffins were adorned with gold and silver inside and out and inlaid with all kinds of precious stones. We collected the gold on the noble mummy of this god...and we collected all that we found on her (the Queen) likewise; and we set fire to their coffins. We took their furniture...consisting of articles of gold, silver and bronze, and divided them amongst ourselves.”

A further example can be read in ‘The Admonitions of an Egyptian Scribe’ (Leiden Papyrus 344) and contains the following translations of the hieroglyphs:

7.2 “Behold, he that was buried as a hawk is …………… ( ?) What the pyramid concealed is become empty”
7.3 “Behold a few lawless men have ventured to despoil the land of the kingship”
7.4 “Behold men have ventured to rebel against the Uraeus, the …….. (?) of Re, which passifies the two lands"
7.5 “Behold the secret of the land who’s limits were unknown, is divulged. The residence is overturned in a minute"

7.2 Is obviously a reference to the Pharaoh being Horus (the hawk) and "what the pyramid concealed" was the kings mummy, which is now missing
7.3 Is no doubt a reference to tomb robbers
7.4 "Rebelling against the Uraeus of Re", is another euphemism for the Pharaoh who wore the Uraeus on his crown.
7.5 A bit of speculation on my part here, but as all these texts appear in the same context as each other, then I would say that the "the secret of the land who’s limits were unknown" is a reference to the pyramid itself and the fact that it was now ‘divulged’ meant that it had been plundered. The "residence being overturned in a minute" could again be a reference to his tomb (his residence) being ransacked.

But there is no ambiguity about the first line, the Pharaoh was buried in a pyramid and it had been robbed!


As to the sarcophagi being used for either liquid or dry Natron there are several arguments I could counter against that idea. For example a body placed inside a relatively fragile alabaster sarcophagus and covered in dry Natron would be very difficult to extract again as the salt sets and forms a very hard crust which has to be broken, thus risking serious damage to both mummy and the sarcophagus. If it were filled with liquid, why no drainage hole? And why bother with a lid? In addition to those questions why would you intricately carve the outside and inside if it were going to be filled with the equivalent of dish water, what purpose would it serve? Why do the majority of them conform to the standard practice of painting the false eyes on the outside/inside to facilitate the Pharaoh looking out? Don’t forget he is not yet resurrected! I have seen and studied at close hand many sarcophagi and have even had a crafty lie inside of some and I am not even slightly convinced that they were used just the once for soaking a body, they are far too intricate for a salt bath.

Finally on this one, I have just had a quick count up of the pyramids and out of 37 of them I can assure you that at least 13 contained bits of mummy remains. Most were fragments and showed signs of burning, so if we assume that there must have been mummies in those 13 then it is not unlikely that there were also mummies in the others at some time. They could be other people and not Pharaohs I hear you say, fair enough, but many have other items that identify them with a ruler, such as a name on a fragment of coffin wood, an artefact, a shabti figure etc. even small copper impliments used in the opening of the mouth ceremony. The very fact that they were mummified, embalmed and bandaged in itself tells us they were not just the remains of commoners. Add to that the burnt and broken state of the remains also points to being a plundered mummy, (why would you plunder a potentially non valuable mummy?) so I would say, if it walks like a duck, if it looks like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck, or in this case a royal mummy.

I assume that your forum name Ra-Mont (Ra’s mountain ?) is in deference to your books central premise and although I still cannot go along with your theory, I still find it interesting and intellectually challenging to put across another view from your own. Perhaps when you tell us a bit more (or maybe I even get to read your book) I may change my views on some of the things you have suggested, but your proof had better be good and stand up to scrutiny. ;)
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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Ra-Mont »

Thanks for your response, Horus. You raise some interesting points, but you mistake the importance I put on my pyramid theory, as I did state above that my dealing with this was to be just 'a small part of my book'; an aside. In fact, may even be just an appendix. Yes, it's a pity I can't support the theory by disclosing more on, for instance, what I've discovered about the Eye of Horus and precisely where to the east 'the gods are born' according to the Pyramid Texts, but that needs to be kept under wraps until proper publication.

You're off-target re my forum name. I chose it because in Stranger in the Valley of the Kings, by Ahmed Osman, he explains how the word Adon came from Aten. In line with that the t in Mont would be translitered as a d. Mont is simply the oft-used alternative name for the god Montu. If you read my name again I'm sure you'll crack it.

Will return to this when I have time to tackle your points in some detail.

R.J.T.

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

Oh H - your reply makes real sense too. I'm not versed enough in Egyptology to even offer and opinion but I'm having a terrific time thinking about both the positions posted here! Argue on guys :!: Really fascinating! :) :) :)

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

Oh H - your reply makes real sense too. I'm not versed enough in Egyptology to even offer and opinion but I'm having a terrific time thinking about both the positions posted here! Argue on guys :!: Really fascinating! :) :) :)

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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Horus »

Glad you are enjoying reading this topic LLL :) I am sure that Ra-Mont is enjoying the debate as much as I am. It is nice to keep things pleasant and just to play devils advocate to his new theories and I am sure that as he puts those new idea/theories forward he also expects others to challenge them which is what I am doing. Nothing is ever set in stone (forgive the pun) when it comes to Egyptology or history and new ideas and theories should be put forward and explored, they should also be challenged by using the evidence we already have. Although I tend to be sceptical of new ideas, I have probably read all of Eric Von Daniken’s books, a writer who really goes overboard with his theories concerning the ancient world. It was only by reading them that I could make up my own mind and come to the conclusion that the majority of his claims were false and easily countered by someone with enough knowledge of history or the natural world to challenge his claims. Taken at face value his theories often appeared to be credible and if a person were not sufficiently versed in the subject themselves then they would seem plausible.

How often have I watched some of these made for TV type programs where various people (often American I’m afraid) ranging from police officers to academics who postulate theories on the death of Tutankhamen or such like, but ignore or leave out the known facts, then we have programs where people just rehash known facts and retell them as if they are their own original ideas. One example that springs to mind is a passage in a Von Daniken book where he describes the lines on the Nasca plain in Peru as landing strips for extra terrestrials and shows several complex designs to support his theories. What the average reader would not know is that one of the examples he gives as being a landing zone of sorts is only a few metres across! hardly a spaceport, it is that type of misinformation that I would always challenge. The religious beliefs of Egypt are extremely complex and have changed over the millennia, the whole pantheon of gods, their relationship with and to each other can be mind boggling as can the way they were brought into existence and what they represent. It is the result of people trying to understand or rationalise the world around them, therefore if the sun moves across the sky then something must be pushing it, if it drops off the end of the world each night and then pops up on the other side the next day then it must have gone somewhere during the night. Seeing a Scarab (dung) beetle pushing a ball of dung along can quickly become and explanation of how things work in the heavens and a whole religion can become attached to this simple event of nature.

The same can be said of explaining something that does not quite fit in, so if jackals are seen frequenting burial grounds they quickly become transformed into the god Anubis or a crocodile becomes the god Sobek, better to worship these creatures than to be a victim of them. If you carve a figure it will magically become real, hence the enemies of the dead such as a snake will often be shown decapitated to render them harmless in the afterlife. As I say it is a complicated and fascinating subject (to me at least) and can be interpreted in many ways, but some things are well proven and can only be challenged by presenting very strong evidence to the contrary. I love my Egyptology and often wish we had more people posting on the subject or joining in, so I am looking forward to seeing Ra-Mont giving us some of that evidence to support whatever theories he has. :up
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Re: Pyramids = tombs? No!

Post by Ra-Mont »

Horus wrote:Thanks for the reply Ra-Mont, :) I read your link that Kevin gave you, but I am not sure what I am suppose to make of it or even how it supports your theory, maybe I have missed something?
Horus, I posted that link so that you could compare the bright vibrancy of an Old Kingdom royal tomb with the hell-hole dankness of any pyramid 'sarcophagus chamber' (so called) and ask yourself whether any sane Egyptian king would really want his remains consigned there for eternity. I thought my point was clear but you obviously missed it.
Horus wrote:Your theory seems to be that the pharaohs were buried elsewhere other than in their actual tombs, if so then why do we have the various mummy caches of past Pharaohs simply recovered from their tombs in the VOK? What made their ‘other’ location any safer than their assumed tombs, especially if they had to be removed at a later date by the priests for safe keeping elsewhere?
No, my theory is that the pyramids were never intended as tombs. I don't claim the same for VoK burials.
Horus wrote:Your reference to utterance 264 in supporting your theory is also a little frail, the East is always the direction of rebirth and the West of the dead, it has always been so in Egyptian mythology, so naturally a king or god would be reborn in the East. You seem to be basing all your theory upon texts that are themselves mythological in nature. All of the trials and tribulations and journeys are on a mythical journey of resurrection, they have little or no meaning or reference to actual events or reality. Everything from the ‘opening of the mouth’ ceremony to the weighing of the heart against a feather is all just ritual and myth. No pharaoh has ever really battled with Apophis or had their hearts devoured by Ammit (Ammut) so why should we attach any significance in the real world to any particular utterance from a tomb text? Indeed the Unas texts were the basis for the later tomb texts and the ‘Book of the Dead’ and having a quick flick through my own copy I can see very little in it that would pass for actual reality or fact.
You can choose to dismiss the importance of the Pyramids Texts if you wish, but believe that if properly interpreted they can tell us a great deal about what went on in those pyramids. They were obviously being recited during a ritual and the king's body must have been present throughout. They begin in King Unas' so-called sarcophagus chamber and are continued in his antechamber, then on to the pyramid exit where they conclude. That tells me that the king's body was taken back out at that point. The mythology in them was important so far as ensuring the king's resurrection and his well-being thereafter was concerned. The presence of those mythological themes doesn't, in my view, render the texts impossible to understand.

Horus wrote:I don’t wish to appear ungracious, but it would seem that the thrust of your book is that the Pyramids (and I assume you only mean the Giza complex) were not actually tombs, but something else? That in itself is not a new theory and had been gone over many times and really only hinges upon the lack of any real text to do with any particular Pharaoh, although we do have Khufu’s name scratched above the granite tomb chamber relieving blocks. Whether or not they were actually interned inside them is always going to be open to speculation, but the presence of sarcophagi, pits containing royal boats plus the elaborate lengths they went to in order to conceal and block the chambers leads me to believe they were. Your theory I assume is suggesting that after the embalming was complete (inside the pyramid) that they were then taken elsewhere to be buried discretely?
The theory I'm arguing here isn't overly important to my book but I don't think it applies to just the Giza pyramids. I think pyramids were meant to represent the mythological Mount Manu and, therefore, the owners of those structures would have had themselves buried to the east in a real mountain that represented Mount Bakhau, from which Ra supposedly rose daily. Those 'sarcophagi', I've already suggested, may have been a means to surround the dead king with natron prior to his bandaging. My reading of the Pyramid Texts does suggest strongly to me that that whole procedure was carried out in the pyramids. And yes, I think after that the kings were discretely buried in the east. The pits containing boats fit my theory very well. While Egyptologists assume those boats were there to ferry the king's ka across the sky every day, I disagree. The king's journey was two-way, and if I'm correct, then his ka travelled every night through the netherworld to his eastern mountain, to where his body lay -- and that would mean a boat journey too.
Horus wrote:If I have understood anything at all about the minds of Egyptian Pharaohs it is their vanity, each one wanted to be seen and remembered for their deeds and went to great lengths to publicise their building achievements, so why would they not want to be buried in the monoliths they created? If it were a simple diversionary tactic to protect the body, then why not just go through an elaborate procedure with any mummified body and leave it in an unguarded tomb for the robbers to plunder while you are secreted away elsewhere, no need for a massive pyramid as what purpose would it serve? The fact is that if we take the Giza pyramids out of the equation then all later Pharaohs were buried in their rock cut tombs, this is well enough documented and only removed after robberies took place, there are even papyri that describe the interrogation and punishment of such tomb robbers. In them they describe how they entered the tombs, smashed open the sarcophagus, plundered the kings body of jewels and even set fire to the tomb furniture to retrieve the gold from it.
No argument from me on the vanity of Egypt's ancient kings. However, it must have concerned them deeply that after death they would be the focus of tomb robbers who were likely to destroy their remains. Their expertly-done mummifications tell us how important a well-preserved body was to their afterlife beliefs. Also, to Egyptian thinking, the very survival of the country depended on the king's survival in the next world. Those, I believe, would be sufficient motives for whatever it took to improve the king's chances after death. I'm pretty sure you're mistaken in claiming that after the Giza pyramids 'all later Pharaohs were buried in their rock cut tombs'. Many pyramids were built after the biggest ones at Giza and I think the kings who built them followed the twin mountain mythology and had themselves buried in an eastern mountain.
Horus wrote:The 'Leopold-Amherst Papyrus' records the testimony of the thieves who plundered the tomb of King Sekhemre II and his Queen Nubkhas of the Seventeenth Dynasty, the thieves confessed that they had broken into this tomb, here is a literal translation:

“We went to rob the tombs...and we found the pyramid of king Sekhemre Shedtaui, the son of Re Sebekemsaf, this being not at all like the pyramids and tombs of the nobles which we habitually went to rob”

Note that they are referring to robbing pyramids and tombs, it continues:

“Then we broke through the rubble...and we found this god (king) lying at the back of his burial-place. And we found that the burial-place of Nubkhaas, his queen, situated beside him...We opened their sarcophagi and their coffins in which they were, and found the noble mummy of this King equipped with a falcon; a large number of amulets and jewels of gold were upon his neck, and his head-piece of gold was upon him. The noble mummy of this King was completely bedecked with gold, and his coffins were adorned with gold and silver inside and out and inlaid with all kinds of precious stones. We collected the gold on the noble mummy of this god...and we collected all that we found on her (the Queen) likewise; and we set fire to their coffins. We took their furniture...consisting of articles of gold, silver and bronze, and divided them amongst ourselves.”
The above is interesting, though I'd prefer a look at the Egyptian text to see how the word 'pyramid', mr, was determined here. But just how much is being revealed in that writing and what is being concealed? The Egyptians loved their secrets, which they obscured from view with cryptic writings. So, let us imagine that a bunch of 17th-Dynasty tomb robbers had stumbled upon the mountain tomb of King Sekhemre II. They may have been there originally on other business. A lot of digging went on in 'this place where the gods are born', so perhaps they got lucky. Anyway, they were obviously caught and put on trial. So, when it comes to recording the trial, how do the scribes avoid making obvious the real burial place of the king and his queen? If they used the word 'mountain, Dw, then they've blown the whole thing. Since my theory holds that pyramids represented mountains, then mr and Dw would have been interchangeable when it came to talking about burials associated with them. The scribes, then, were perfectly in order in describing a mountain tomb as a pyramid.
Horus wrote:A further example can be read in ‘The Admonitions of an Egyptian Scribe’ (Leiden Papyrus 344) and contains the following translations of the hieroglyphs:

7.2 “Behold, he that was buried as a hawk is …………… ( ?) What the pyramid concealed is become empty”
7.3 “Behold a few lawless men have ventured to despoil the land of the kingship”
7.4 “Behold men have ventured to rebel against the Uraeus, the …….. (?) of Re, which passifies the two lands"
7.5 “Behold the secret of the land who’s limits were unknown, is divulged. The residence is overturned in a minute"

7.2 Is obviously a reference to the Pharaoh being Horus (the hawk) and "what the pyramid concealed" was the kings mummy, which is now missing
7.3 Is no doubt a reference to tomb robbers
7.4 "Rebelling against the Uraeus of Re", is another euphemism for the Pharaoh who wore the Uraeus on his crown.
7.5 A bit of speculation on my part here, but as all these texts appear in the same context as each other, then I would say that the "the secret of the land who’s limits were unknown" is a reference to the pyramid itself and the fact that it was now ‘divulged’ meant that it had been plundered. The "residence being overturned in a minute" could again be a reference to his tomb (his residence) being ransacked.

But there is no ambiguity about the first line, the Pharaoh was buried in a pyramid and it had been robbed!
I'm familiar with the above texts and have used some to support my theory in the 'pyramid' chapter of my book. I have no argument against the king being described as a 'hawk' in 'Admonitions', but if 'what the pyramid concealed is become empty' really does apply to the theft of a king's body (which I'm not convinced by) then again we could be seeing cryptology at work. For 'pyramid' read 'mountain'. Admonitions was written following the collapse of the Old Kingdom. The 'lawless men despoiling the land of kingship' and 'rebelling against the uraeus' may well have discovered the secret of the pyramids. And I think 'the secret of the land whose limits were unknown' is a reference to that secret, namely that the pyramids weren't tombs. The royal bodies were buried to the east. The flavour I get from Admonitions is one of blackmail. Did this lead to the Old Kingdom's downfall?
Horus wrote:As to the sarcophagi being used for either liquid or dry Natron there are several arguments I could counter against that idea. For example a body placed inside a relatively fragile alabaster sarcophagus and covered in dry Natron would be very difficult to extract again as the salt sets and forms a very hard crust which has to be broken, thus risking serious damage to both mummy and the sarcophagus. If it were filled with liquid, why no drainage hole? And why bother with a lid? In addition to those questions why would you intricately carve the outside and inside if it were going to be filled with the equivalent of dish water, what purpose would it serve? Why do the majority of them conform to the standard practice of painting the false eyes on the outside/inside to facilitate the Pharaoh looking out? Don’t forget he is not yet resurrected! I have seen and studied at close hand many sarcophagi and have even had a crafty lie inside of some and I am not even slightly convinced that they were used just the once for soaking a body, they are far too intricate for a salt bath.
Again, the sargophagi being used for natron soaking isn't vital to my theory, but their presence might be explained by that. The alabaster versions you cite above are New and Late Kingdom and I accept without question that burial practice had changed by then. I'm discussing the pryamid era and I don't believe such containers were associated with them. Ditto your 'false eyes'. I could be mistaken, but I think all of the examples found in pyramids have been made of granite, basalt and other hard stone. Ergo, the possibility remains that they were used in the preservation of the kings' bodies. Not all pyramid sarcophagi have been found with lids. But I suggested above that the lowering in of a 'sarcophagus' might have played a part in the 'distraction' part of a pyramid's role.
Horus wrote:Finally on this one, I have just had a quick count up of the pyramids and out of 37 of them I can assure you that at least 13 contained bits of mummy remains. Most were fragments and showed signs of burning, so if we assume that there must have been mummies in those 13 then it is not unlikely that there were also mummies in the others at some time. They could be other people and not Pharaohs I hear you say, fair enough, but many have other items that identify them with a ruler, such as a name on a fragment of coffin wood, an artefact, a shabti figure etc. even small copper impliments used in the opening of the mouth ceremony. The very fact that they were mummified, embalmed and bandaged in itself tells us they were not just the remains of commoners. Add to that the burnt and broken state of the remains also points to being a plundered mummy, (why would you plunder a potentially non valuable mummy?) so I would say, if it walks like a duck, if it looks like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck, or in this case a royal mummy.
You say 13 out of 37 pyramids have held 'bits of mummy remains'. I suspect if you check you'll find that's more like body parts, some of which appear to have been mummified. As I said above, bits of body, even mummies, do not a pharaoh make. There are many explanations for their presence. Some, perhaps, are the remains of kings' loyal servants, interred in the pyramid to greet their master's ka when it entered the pyramid every morning. They, too, would need good embalming if they were to perform that task for eternity. None of the human remains or artefacts you describe above are proof of a royal burial. A king's name on a coffin fragment? Perhaps the full text went: 'Ameny, follower of King Khafre, Lord of the Two Lands...' etc. So, where's Khafre? Ushabti were thought to perform tasks for the king's ka, so any found in a pyramid need have no link with his body. The 'burnt and broken state' you describe of remains certainly doesn't point to their being plundered and set alight by robbers, at least not deliberately. There are surely few more certain way to commit suicide than to start a fire in a chamber deep inside a pyramid. However, if you wanted to kill an intruder to a pyramid a good way would be to arrange they start a fire by opening things they shouldn't. Around 90 per cent of fatalities from fire are caused by fumes. Booby traps?

Your theory that the pyramids served as royal tombs -- the one shared by the majority of Egyptologists -- would mean that the ka of any king buried in one would rise from it in the morning to journey across the sky, winding up at day's end somewhere in Libya. It would then make its journey back via the underworld. That seems backwards to me. According to my theory, the king's body lay in his representation of Ra's eastern mountain and his ka rose from it every morning in company with that god. It then descended into his specially built replica of Ra's western mountain at nightfall and made the underworld journey back from there. Of course, royal burials later took place in the Valley of the Kings, but the mountain mythology wasn't lost. All the tombs there are in the vicinity of a natural mountain. Here again was the mythological western mountain of Ra. But now the royal bodies lay to the west, so the first daily task faced by kings from there would have been the journey west through the underworld. It's no mere coincidence then that very soon after the inception of the VoK as a royal necropolis one of the most important funerary texts was the Amduat, or 'The Book of What is in the Underworld'. This was put on the walls of many tombs, the best version being in the tomb of Thutmose III. Later replaced by the 'Book of Gates', which was just a reworking, The Amduat had one main role: to ensure the safe travel of its owner's ka through the pitfalls and terrors to be found in the underworld. So, it's obvious that the king's ka was meant to travel east through the underword to the mountain of Ra's rising. So, if any kings really had been buried in their pyramids, I'm sure there would have been similar texts and illustrations in the 'sarcophagus chambers' of all of them. No light matter, that danger-filled journey.

That mysteriously empty tomb of Queen Heterpheres I, could have several explanations. But one I've come up with is that she predeceased her husband King Snefru. She was then interred temporarily next to his pyramid until the great man himself died and was buried in his eastern mountain. So, with her true burial place becoming available, she was reinterrred beside him. I would remind you that Egyptologist Barbara Mertz has been much perplexed by this queen's empty sarcophagus, as well as ‘other sarcophagi found in place, unopened – and empty.' The lady doesn't buy the pyramid tomb idea either. Also, let us not forget that in 1950 Muhammad Zakaria Goneim found a sealed, empty 'sarcophagus' inside what he was sure was the undisturbed step pyramid of King Sekhemket. My theory explains how this could be, the theory which holds pyramids to have been tombs does not.

R.J.T.

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