Pyramids and Symbols
By Emory Taylor
From the section of this research called "Hieroglyphs and Hypothesis" you will recall the following quote.
Religion In Ancient Egypt --- Shafer
xi/1/1-2 "Egyptology is a dynamic field. Ongoing archaeology and epigraphically investigations continuously produce fresh data, some of which point the way to reformulation of previously held hypotheses about ancient Egyptian life, thought, and history."
As an example, I use the following.
The Riddle Of The Pyramids --- Mendelssohn
Dr. Mendelssohn studied physics under Planck, Nernst, Schrodinger, and Einstein at the University of Berlin, and is the author of over two hundred papers and has written a number of books, and his studies include Egyptology.
All bracked statement are mine.
Quoting from inside front cover.
"Although Mendelssohn readily admits that the archaeological evidence proves that the pyramids served as royal mausoleums, he argues that this was not their main function. The discovery of the main purpose of the pyramids is the subject of this book [The Riddle Of The Pyramids]."
77/2 "While very few people will dispute that the pyramids had some connection with the afterlife of the pharaoh, the general statement that the pharaohs were buried in them is by no means indisputable. The complexity of the evidence before us does not, unfortunately, permit such a simple catagorical statement. Quite possibly each pyramid once housed the body of a pharaoh, but there also exist, ...an unpleasently large number of factors that speak against it. It is on the basis of these complexities and contradictions that Egyptologists had to try and find a solution to the most difficult problem of all: why were these immense pyramids built in the first place?"
77/3/4-8 "...in the space of just about one century almost 25 million tons of limestone were quarried, dressed, moved, and piled up into man-made mountains. Then, within one generation, this fantastic activity was brought to an end. Pyramids were still provided for the pharaohs for another thousand years, but they were small and soon became cheap and shoddy. They were well within the ordinary budget of the country. The short spell of what appears to us as the magnificent madness of the Fourth Dynasty was never repeated."
77/4/1 "Egyptologists have looked in vain for a convencing solution of this riddle in a change of religious belief."
The "riddle" is why the ancient Egyptians decided to build gigantic pyramids and why they then discontinued building gigantic pyramids. Clearly, from the above quotes, it is obvious that Dr. Mendelssohn does not believe religious beliefs are the answer, and believes that the main purpose of the pyramids was not a religious purpose.
77/4/3 "The main difficulty which Egyptologists face [in solving the riddle] is the re-creation of a state of mind of human society 5000 years ago."
The following paragraph describes Dr. Mendelssohn approach to re-creating the "state of mind of human society 5000 years ago."
77/4/Last--->78/1/1-4 "The knowledge that the same [physical] laws were operative and had to be obeyed 5000 years ago in exactly the same way as today provides a reliable link between the pyramid builders and ourselves. We can follow their decisions, analyze their mistakes and recognize their correction with absolute certainty. For the technologist a return to the mind of the Old Kingdom presents no difficulty. Whatever Imhotep's religious beliefs and spiritual motives may have been, his work [of building pyramids] was governed by the same laws of stability to which we are subject today.
Clearly, Dr. Mendelssohn has taken the stand of a technologist, attempting to re-create the "state of mind of human society 5000 years ago" by interpreting the engineering techniques embedded within the architectural structures (that is, within the pyramids).
>From the archaeological evidence (artifacts), which includes the pyramids, in which engineering techniques employed to build the pyramids, such as buttress walls and stepped cores, are embedded, Dr. Mendelssohn was able to "follow their decisions, analyze their mistakes and recognize their correction" and to come to some conclusions.
141/1/1-2 "The results of our investigation so far lead to two main conclusions. The first is the destruction of the Meidum pyramid through a building disaster. The second is an explanation of the rhomboid shape of the Bent pyramid as a direct consequence of this disaster."
141/3/1--->142/1 "The third conclusion concerns the timing of building operations of successive pyramids. We have seen that the sudden decision to change the shape of the southern pyramid at Dahshur [the Bent pyramid with the rhomboid shape] resulted from the catastrophe at Meidum. The disaster, as could be proved conclusively, took place in the middle of the third construction phase at Meidum. On the other hand, the pyramid at Dahshur had reached about half of its projected height when the angle of elevation had been changed. This means that roughly 70 percent of the masonry of the Bent pyramid had already been placed in position when the previous pyramid at Meidum was still under construction. The inescapable conclusion is that the building periods of these two pyramids overlapped very considerably."
142/2/1 "This, of course, conflicts with the opinion generally held so far that each pharaoh, on ascending the throne, began the building of his pyramid which it was his aim to finish well before his death."
Thus, from a technological stand point, interpreting the archaeological evidence (artifacts), which includes the pyramids, in which engineering techniques employed to build the pyramids, such as buttress walls and stepped cores, are embedded, Dr. Mendelssohn formulated a hypothesis that he believes overthrows a previously held hypothesis about ancient Egypt.
The evidence (of the disaster at the Meidum pyramid and the corrections made at the Bent pyramid) strongly suggest that the building periods of these two pyramids overlapped, and even if the evidence out-right proved that the building periods of these two pyramids overlapped (which it does not), the fact that the building periods of two pyramids overlapped does not constitute proof that pyramids were built such that there were always two under construction at one time, which is exactly what Dr. Mendelssohn would have us believe; furthermore, Dr. Mendelssohn uses this third conclusion (of overlapping building periods) as the basis for what he believes is the solution to the riddle (of why the ancient Egyptians decided to build gigantic pyramids and why they discountinued building gigantic pyramids).
It is this third conclusion (overlapping building periods), derived from the technological stand point, of attempting to re-create the "state of mind of human society 5000 years ago" by interpreting the engineering techniques embedded within the architectural structures (that is, within the pyramids), that Dr. Mendelssohn uses as part of the basis for what he believes is the solution to the "riddle" (of why the ancient Egyptians decided to build gigantic pyramids and why they discountinued building gigantic pyramids).
Again using the technological stand point, Dr. Mendelssohn comes to a fourth conclusion.
152/1/6-8 "The Third Dynasty [pyramid] complexes contained, besides the central pyramid, a great number of dummy buildings and a very extensive temenos wall with recessed panelling. All these structures required a large number of skilled masons. At the Fourth Dynasty pyramids, these subsidiary buildings were reduced to a minimum while at the same time the bulk of the monuments increased more and more."
152/2/1 "This signifies a steady increase in the force of unskilled seasonal workers in comparison with the permanently employed craftsmen whose numbers, if anything, may have diminished."
152/2/3 "...the central administration constantly increased their hold over the population as a whole without training correspondingly more specialists."
It is at this point that Dr. Mendelssohn discontinues using the technological stand point and, instead, begins to speculate.
152/2/4 "It thus appears that their motives were purely political by creating a progressively growing economic dependence of the common people on what was now becoming the state."
How would Dr. Mendelssohn know that their motives were purely political? What evidence (i.e. engineering techniques embedded in the architectural structures, which he has been using for his technological stand point) is there in support of their motives being "purely political?" No such evidence is offered by Dr. Mendelssohn. The conclusion that "their motives were purly political" is not based on the technological stand point but, instead, on pure speculation by Dr. Mendelssohn. At 146/2/1-5, Dr. Mendelssohn was of the opinion that "their motives" were based on economics as given in the following quote.
146/2/1-5 "...a critical stage for the maintenance of the working force was reached when limitation of access to the pyramid demanded its reduction [when a pyramid neared completion, the entire work force was no longer need]. At this stage there was only one way out of the economic dilemma [which is clearly immediate and massive unemployment resulting in what we know as an economic recession]; the surplus workers had to be shifted to the start of the next pyramid. From then on not one but two pyramids were under construction, as indeed we have discovered in the simultaneous work on the Meidum and Bent pyramids."
So, Dr. Medelssohn contradicts himself by saying that "their motive" were based on economics and then saying that "their motives" were "purly political." Neither of these contradictory conclusions are based on the technological stand point, but, instead, are based on speculation.
To make matters worse, Dr. Mendelssohn gives information, in the following quotes, that clearly indicates religious motives.
155/4/1 "The core of the administration was the Heliopolitan priesthood of Re who had initiated and sustained the pyramid project."
155/4/6 "The pharaoh himself had become the spiritual figurehead of a large and highly efficient administrative machine whose directives came from the priesthood of Re, who were the real government of Old Kingdom Egypt."
So, are we to believe that there were no religious motives? That their motives were "purely political," is an aspect of Dr. Mendelssohn's hypothesis that is not based on the technological point of view, and that is not supported by the evidence Dr. Mendelssohn presents.
It should be apparent that a combination of motives were involved in the decision to build gigantic pyramids: religious motives, political motives, and economic motives.
If we have learned anything from the field of Sociology, it is that religious institutions and political institutions and economic institutions have an interdependency.
At 152/1/4, Dr. Mendelssohn refers to a pyramid as the "shining emblem of the sun god..."
Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach --- Henslin
495/3/1 "A symbol is a condensed way of communicating. Worn by a fundamentalist Christian, for example, the cross says, 'I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that He is the Messiah, the promised Son of God, that He loves me, that He died to take away my sins, that He rose from the dead and is going to return to earth, and that through Him I will receive eternal life."
495/4/1 "That is a lot to pack into one symbol - and is only part of what the symbol means to a fundamentalist believer.
495/4/3 "So it is also with the Star of David, the crescent moon and star, the cow (expressing to Hindus the unity of all living things), and the various symbols of the world's many other religions."
The ancient Egyptians would have known that the pyramid was a religious symbol, and would have known the meaning of that symbol, just as a fundamentalist Christian knows the meaning of the cross.
Symbols, like words, which are also symbols, have meanings embedded into them, and, like language, symbols have a perception embedded into them. In order to understand what is conveyed by a particular symbol, such as a pyramid, we must know the meaning and perception embedded into the symbol by the culture that created the symbol.
So when Dr. Medelssohn hypothesized that "Once it is realized that the main object of pyramid construction was a work program leading to a new social order, the religious meaning and ritual importance of the pyramid recede into the background" it is the farthest thing from the truth. Such a nonsense statement is exactly what we should expect from someone (in this case Dr. Mendelssohn) who does not know the meaning and perception embedded into the pyramid symbol by the ancient Egyptians.
Meaning and perception so powerful that, according to even Dr. Mendelssohn at 147/2/7, "...we have to assume that pyramid building was an essentially voluntary activity," and says, at 142/3/1 "The most obvious incentive [for the voluntary act of participating in building a pyramid] is believed to have been a religious one..."
Knowing the meanings and perceptions embedded into the language and symbols of ancient Egypt is as important as knowing the engineering techniques embedded into the architectural structures constructed by the ancient Egyptians. Until we know the meanings and perceptions embedded into the language and symbols of the ancient Egyptians, we cannot re-create the "state of mind of human society 5000 years ago," nor can we truly understand their motives, but I can say with absolute certainty that their motives for building gigantic pyramids were not "purely political" as Dr. Medelssohn would have us believe.
Much to the dislike of many Egyptologists and many scholars, the meanings and perceptions embedded into ancient Egyptian language and symbols include visitors from the heaven, be those visitors gods, spirits, or aliens.
In fairness to Dr. Medelssohn, I want to state that I agree with Dr. Mendelssohn on the following points, as I believe he has built a case for them which is supported by the evidence.
1) the stepped phase of the Meidum pyramid was never completed,
2) a true pyramid always had to have a stepped core,
3) pyramid casings were dressed from the bottom of the structure while the top was still building."
4) the Meidum pyramid suffered a catastrophe due to an engineering flaw,
5) the decision to change the shape of the southern pyramid at Dahshur [the Bent pyramid with the rhomboid shape] resulted from the catastrophe at Meidum.
Religion In Ancient Egypt --- Shafer
Shafer, Byron, 1991. Religion In Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, Edited by Byron E. Shafer. Contributors John Baines, Leonard H. Lesko, David P. Silverman. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9986-8.
The Riddle Of The Pyramids --- Mendelssohn
Mendelssohn, Kurt,1974. The Riddle Of The Pyramids, Praeger Publishers, Inc. New York
Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach --- Henslin
Henslin, M. James, 1995. Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach, Simon&Schuster Company, Massachusetts ISBN 0-205-16158-8