Khufu pyramid controversy

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Khufu pyramid controversy

Post by Ebikatsu »

Egyptologists have poured scorn on a new study claiming that construction of the great pyramid began on 23 August, reports Nevine El-Aref

Constructed 4,500 years ago, and the only extant wonder of the ancient world, the great pyramid of Khufu has remained an enigma that excites the curiosity of experts and the imagination of amateurs. It has been subject to the wildest of theories. Among the more far fetched is the suggestion it was built by the inhabitants of the lost city of Atlantis.

Khufu's pyramid is in the headlines once again. A team of scientists, Egyptologists and astronomers, led by Abdel-Halim Noureddin, professor of ancient language at Cairo University's Faculty of Archaeology, announced that 23 August 2470 BC is the day on which Khufu, and his engineer Hemiunu, began construction of the great pyramid.

They base their theory on the heliacal rising of the star Sopdet. Sopdet (Sirius), Noureddin told reporters, was first recorded in 4241 BC. The Nile begins its annual flood approximately 35 days after Sirius appears in the July sky, and the ancient Egyptians naturally connected the two events. Assuming that construction of the pyramid would have begun with the inundation, since that would have freed vast numbers of farmers who could be used as labour, Noureddin's team have calculated that construction of the pyramid began on the evening of 22 August or the morning of 23 August, and opted for the latter as being more likely.

Following the announcement Giza Governor Sayed Abdel-Aziz declared that 23 August would henceforth be Giza governorate day instead of 21 March, which is now the national day of 6 October governorate. He also said that Giza governorate's logo would be changed from a Lotus flower to feature the three pyramids of Giza, the Nile and Cairo University against a backdrop of the rising sun.

Noureddin's announcement has triggered controversy among Egyptologists, who claim the team's theories are based on inaccurate evidence.

"There is not a jot of scientific evidence that can accurately determine the day, or even the season, on which pyramid construction work started," Ramadan El-Badri, supervisor of the national project for documenting Egypt monuments, told Al-Ahram Weekly. "Ancient Egyptians calculated years in a different way than we do today. Each king has his own chronology, and we do not even know whether they begin with the coronation, or with the completion of the Pharaoh's first year in office."

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, questions Noureddin's assertions on two grounds. He points out that it is impossible to establish equivalencies between Egyptian months and their Coptic counterparts, let alone the modern 12 months used today. He also says that the actual length of Khufu's reign has yet to be determined with any accuracy. According to the Turin papyrus King Khufu ruled for 33 years while other archaeological evidence suggests that he was on the throne for 30 or 32 years.

Hawass questions the source of the team's conviction that construction of the pyramid was related to the timing of the Nile flood. It is based, he says, on suggestions made by Herodotus, a speculation that recent discoveries by American Egyptologist Mark Lehner at the administrative complex on the Giza Plateau has shown to be inaccurate. Lehner has conclusively shown that construction work lasted for the whole year and not only along the inundation season, though the number of workers did indeed increase during the flood.

Professor Mamdouh El-Damati, a former director of the Egyptian Museum, dismisses the theory as little more than an amusing anecdote.

"It is nonsense and completely untrue," he says, insisting that no one can know when work on the pyramid began or was finished.

Musalem Shaltout, professor of astronomy and a member of Noureddin's team, says his role was restricted to providing information about the heliacal rising of Sopdet and its relation to the flood cycle season, and takes no responsibility for how that information has been used.

Hawass has called for a scientific, archaeological and astronomical committee to be formed to discuss the results with Noureddin in order to end the controversy.

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Post by Horus »

I find these sort of claims a bit ridiculous :roll: given the time scale involved, the change in the night sky, the inaccuracies regarding the length of time any particular Pharaoh actually ruled for, ancient dates compared to the modern calendar. All these things make it very unlikely that we can ever be certain of any particular event in ancient history, all we can really do is to speculate.

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