Pyramids and Embedded Perceptions

By Emory Taylor


All statements in brackets are mine.

Recall, from the Hieroglyphs and Hypotheses section of this research, that words have meanings and perceptions embedded into them, and that in a different culture a word my have a completely different meaning and perception from the meaning and perception it has in your culture. So when an author, be it a scholar or layperson, writes that the pyramids were tombs or graves, just what does the author mean, and how does the reader interpret the words tomb and grave, and how does the author's meaning, and the reader's interpretation, compare with the meanings and perceptions embedded into the words by the culture about which the author is writing?

Recall, the following, from the Pyramids and Symbols section of this research. "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 that symbol."

The Complete Pyramids: solving the ancient mysteries --- Lehner

Quoting from the back inside cover. "Mark Lehner is Visiting Assistant Professor of Egyptian Archaeology at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, and a Research Associate at the Harvard Semitic Museum. From 1979 to 1983 he directed the Sphinx and Isis Temple Project and since 1984 he has been director of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project.

In the following quote note that M. Lehner states "far more than just the grave of a king."

9/1/1, M. Lehner wrote, "It is true that the pyramids are pharaonic tombs, but the tomb of a pharaoh of ancient Egypt was far more than just the grave of a king."

9/2/2-last "When the Egyptians built the pyramids, they also founded new farms, ranches and whole new towns in the provinces. The livestock and produce from these estates flowed into the area of the pyramid complex where they were redistributed to the work force and to the priests and special classes of people who served the temple complex. So the pyramid was also an economic engine, and, especially during the Old Kingdom, a major catalyst for internal colonization and the development of Egypt as one of the world's first true states."

M. Lehner refers to the pyramid as a "cosmic engine," saying, at 20/1/4-7, " fact, each pyramid ensured the rule of universal order, the turning of the days and seasons, and the flooding of the Nile. The mechanics of the pyramid as cosmic engine depended on the Egyptian concept of a person and the distinct phases of life and death, called kheperu. These 'transformations' continued when the ka, the ba and the body, which had become separated at death, interacted in the final transformation - becoming an akh, a glorified being of light, effective in the Afterlife. The pyramid was an instrument that enabled this alchemy to take place for the pharaoh, who had ruled as the god incarnate, and allowed that incarnation to pass from father to son, from Osiris to Horus. Encapsulating the dangerous interface between cosmic order and the terrible formlessness of time before the beginning, the pyramid is better understood as the meeting point of life and light with death and darkness."

Where did M. Lehner get his "cosmic engine" idea?

20/1/8-last, "Our earliest insight into such ideas comes from the Pyramid Texts, written on the walls of pyramid chambers beginning with Unas in the 5th dynasty. These texts speak to us of what the pyramid meant as an icon and offer glimpses of the burial ceremonies for the god-king and the rituals that were carried out once his mortal remains had been mummified and entombed, setting the cosmic engine in motion."

22/2/4 "For them [the ancient Egyptians] death was not the end, but just one of the transformations in life's natural cycle."

At 24/1/2 M. Lehner writes, "For the king, the pyramid was the place of ascension and transformation."

At 24/2/1 M. Lehner writes, "The names of the pyramids show that they were perceived as places of ascension and transformation."

Clearly, the meanings and perceptions embedded into a pyramid were not one of a tomb or a grave as defined by us.

At 13/5/4, M. Lehner wrote, "The pyramids no longer connect with living Egypt and so we have lost sight of their original role in ancient Egypt." M. Lehner continues, at 13/4/5, "But from the Mokkatam Hills, there is still the sense of the pyramid field as one vast Memphite necropolis, the pyramids standing as giant tombstones of distance god-kings." Clearly, "tombstones" is not what the pyramids represented to the ancient Egyptians: it is not how the ancient Egyptians would have seen the pyramids. To refer to the pyramid as "tombstones," or as a tomb, or as a grave is simple non-sense.

Now contrast M. Lehner's image of the pyramids as "tombstones" with his statement of 9/3. "The complete pyramid played many roles: massive labor project; baker and brewer for hundreds of consumers; colonizer of the Egyptian provinces; employer of farmers, herdsmen and craftsmen of all kinds; temple and ritual center at the core of the Egyptian state; reliquary of a king; embodiment of light and shadow; and the union of death and rebirth." Clearly, these are part of what the pyramids represented to the ancient Egyptians: part of the perceptions embedded into the pyramids.

Architecture And People --- Raskin

In 1974, Eugene Raskin was Adjunct Professor of Architecture at Columbia University, and author of several books.

83/1 "When we speak of a building as expressing this or that we are clearly assuming that architecture, in addition to its functional tasks, is also a medium of communication. It conveys meaning, just as these words, printed on this paper, convey --- it is hoped --- meanings. Of course, those who have the meanings to convey, in this case the architects, and those who 'read' the messages must possess some common knowledge of the language being used. For people who have been brought up in the same society this is a simple matter; they acquire their knowledge without effort, just as they learn to speak. A person from another culture, say an aboriginal tribesman from the South Pacific, might have the same difficulty understanding our architecture that he has with our language, costumes, and moral standards. He probably would not be able to tell a church from a post office. In fact, he would not know what a church is, let alone a post office. But if it is your own culture, one you have been raised in and perhaps have had a hand in shaping, you not only understand the basic statements made by buildings, such as 'I am a church' or 'I am a gas station,' you also can read modifying comments and nuances..."

When M. Lehner saw the pyramids as "tombstones," he was seeing the pyramids as though he were looking through the eyes of an "aboriginal tribesman from the South Pacific," not as an Egyptian from ancient Egypt.

The endless procession of scholars who continually see the pyramids as tombs or graves are also seeing the pyramids as though they were looking through the eyes of an "aboriginal tribesmen from the South Pacific," not as an Egyptian from ancient Egypt.

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 or truly understand the motives of human society 5000 years ago, but it should be apparent that their motives were not purely religious, and were not purely political, and were not purely economic. A pyramid had religious, political, and economic meanings and perceptions embedded into them by the culture that created them --- the ancient Egyptian culture. We must see with the eyes of an ancient Egyptian, not with the eyes of an "aborigional tribesman from the South Pacific."

The Complete Pyramids: solving the ancient mysteries --- Lehner
Lehner, Mark. 1997. The Complete Pyramids: solving the ancient mysteries. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London. ISBN 0-500-05084-8

Architecture And People --- Raskin
Raskin, Eugene. 1974. Architecture And People. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.