Showing posts with label Pyramids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pyramids. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Satellite Survey Pinpoints Numerous Pyramids

Several of the new finds are in the area of Saqqara.

At least 17 pyramids, 1,000 tombs, and 3,000 settlements ~ all previously unknown ~ have been revealed through use of an infra-red satellite survey of Egypt. Initial excavations have confirmed some of the findings, including two of the suspected pyramids.

“We were very intensely doing this research for over a year,” Dr. Sarah Parcak tells the BBC. She has pioneered the work in space archaeology from a NASA-sponsored laboratory in Birmingham, Alabama. “I could see the data as it was emerging, but for me the a-ha moment was when I could step back and look at everything that we'd found.”

The team analyzed images from satellites orbiting 700km above the earth, equipped with cameras so powerful they can pinpoint objects less than 1m in diameter on the earth's surface. According to the BBC, ancient Egyptians built their houses and structures out of mud brick, which is much denser than the soil that surrounds it, so the shapes of houses, temples and tombs can be seen.

"These are just the sites [close to] the surface,” Parcak says. “There are many thousands of additional sites that the Nile has covered over with silt. This is just the beginning of this kind of work.”

Click here for the complete article and photos.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pyramid May Hold Two Secret Funeral Chambers

French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin is calling for new scientific exploration of the Great Pyramid of Giza to locate two chambers housing funereal furniture plus a previously overlooked passage that enabled funeral parties to exit the pyramid.

Houdin says 3-D simulation and data from US egyptologist Bob Brier points to two secret chambers in the heart of the structure. The rooms would have housed furniture for use in the afterlife by the pharaoh Khufu, also known as Cheops in Greek, he told a press conference this week.

“I am convinced there are antechambers in this pyramid,” he said. “What I want is to find them.”
In March 2007, Houdin advanced the theory that the Great Pyramid had been built inside-out using an internal spiral ramp, as opposed to an external ramp as had long been suggested.
He proposed mounting a joint expedition of Egyptian antiquities experts and French engineers, using infrared, radar and other non-invasive methods to check out the hypothesis.
The idea was nixed by Egypt's antiquities department. A Canadian team from Laval University in Quebec will seek permission this year to carry out thermal imaging from outside the Pyramid to explore the theory, Houdin said.
Houdin said a pointer to the antechambers came from the existence of such rooms in the pyramid of Snefru, Khufu's father. It was possible a similar design was retained for the Great Pyramid.

Click here for the complete article.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pyramid "Grid" May Be Key to Construction

Bryn's drawings may unlock pyramid's construction secrets.

According to a Norwegian architect, researchers have been so preoccupied by the weight of the stones comprising Egypt’s ancient pyramids that they’ve overlooked two major problems: How did the Egyptians know exactly where to put the enormously heavy building blocks, and how was the master architect able to communicate highly precise plans to a workforce of 10,000 illiterate men?

These were among the questions that confronted Ole J. Bryn, an architect and associate professor of Architecture and Fine Art with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology when he began examining Khufu's Great Pyramid in Giza. Khufu's pyramid ~ better known as the Pyramid of Cheops ~ consists of 2.3 million limestone blocks weighing roughly 7 million tons. At 146.6 meters high, it held the record as the tallest structure ever built for nearly 4,000 years.

According to ScienceDaily:
What Bryn discovered was quite simple. He believes that the Egyptians invented the modern building grid, by separating the structure's measuring system from the physical building itself, thus introducing tolerance, as it is called in today's engineering and architectural professions.
Bryn has studied the plans from the thirty oldest Egyptian pyramids, and discovered a precision system that made it possible for the Egyptians to reach the pyramid's last and highest point, the apex point, with an impressive degree of accuracy. By exploring and making a plan of the pyramid it is possible to prepare modern project documentation of not just one, but all pyramids from any given period.
As long as the architect knows the main dimensions of a pyramid, he can project the building as he would have done it with a modern building, but with building methods and measurements known from the ancient Egypt, Bryn says.
If the principles behind Bryn's drawings are correct, according to ScienceDaily, then archaeologists will have a new "map" that demonstrates that the pyramids are not a "bunch of heavy rocks with unknown structures" but, rather, incredibly precise structures.

Click here for the complete article.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sudan's Pyramids Still Perplexing

Landscape of Kush pyramids at Meroe.

While archaeologists have thoroughly excavated the 100 or so pyramids in Sudan, many aspects of the ancient Kush civilization that built them remain a mystery. According to Cosmos magazine:
Kush was one of the earliest civilizations in the Nile valley and, at first, was dominated by Egypt. The Nubians eventually gained their independence and, at the height of their power, they turned the table on Egypt and conquered it in the 8th century BC. They occupied the entire Nile valley for a century before being forced back into what is now Sudan.
At the center of the exploration is Meroe, located northeast of Khartoum and the last capital of Kush. The Meroe dynasty was the last in a line of "black pharaohs" that ruled Kush for more than 1,000 years until 350 AD. Meroe had three cemeteries containing more than 100 pyramids, smaller than their Egyptian counterparts. The largest are 30 meters tall and the angles are steep, some close to 70 degrees.

"We have a chronology, but it's not very precise," says Salah Mohammed Ahmed, deputy director of Sudan antiquities.

"We know about 50 words in Meroitic, but we need about a thousand of them to understand a language. So we have an enormous amount of work to do," Claude Rilly, head of the French section of Sudanese antiquities in Khartoum and a leading expert in the ancient language, told Cosmos.

Click here for the Cosmos Magazine article.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'Afterlife Door' from Tomb is Recovered

A large red granite false door that ancient Egyptians believed was the threshold to the afterlife has been recovered near the Karnak Temple in Luxor. The door belongs to the tomb of User, a powerful advisor to the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut.

The door ~ measuring nearly six feet high and 19 inches thick ~ is engraved with religious texts and various titles used by User, including mayor of the city, vizier and prince, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass was quoted as saying.

"The newly discovered door was reused during the Roman period. It was removed from the tomb of User and used in the wall of a Roman structure," said Mansur Boraik, who headed the excavation mission.

Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt between 1479 BC and 1458 BC, was the longest reigning female pharaoh.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Data May Locate Mystery Pyramid

Pyramid of Unas in foreground is near suspected site of Userkare's tomb.

Based on new astronomical and topographical findings, archaeologists believe the missing pyramid of Userkare ~ an obscure pharaoh that ruled Egypt some 4,300 years ago ~ could lie at the intersection of a series of invisible lines in South Saqqara.

Connecting the funerary complexes raised by kings of the 6th Dynasty between 2322 and 2151 BC, the lines would have defined the sacred space of the Saqqara area, based on dynastic lineage, religion and astronomical alignment.

"We are talking of meridian and diagonal alignments, with pyramids raised at their intersections. The only missing piece in this sort of grid is the pyramid of Userkare," Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan's Polytechnic University, told Discovery News.

Known only from the king lists, Userkare was the second pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty. He took power after Teti I was murdered, perhaps in a conspiracy he himself had maneuvered.

"When Pepi I took control a few years later, Userkare disappeared from history. Finding his tomb might help understand those obscure years. The walls in his burial might also contain intact copies of the Pyramid Texts," Magli said, referring to the oldest known religious texts in the world that were carved on the walls and sarcophagi of the pyramids at Saqqara during the 5th and 6th Dynasties of the Old Kingdom.

Click here for the complete article.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mayan Temples Play 'Raindrop' Music

El Castillo possibly a temple to the Mayan rain god Chaac.

Researchers are speculating that the Mayans constructed some of Mexico’s ancient pyramids to reverberate with peculiar “raindrop music” ~ the sound of raindrops falling into a bucket of water ~ as people climbed them.

For years archaeologists have been familiar with the raindrop sounds made by footsteps on El Castillo, a hollow pyramid on the Yucatán Peninsula. But why the steps should sound like this and whether the effect was intentional remained unclear.

According to New Scientist magazine:

To investigate further, Jorge Cruz of the Professional School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in Mexico City and Nico Declercq of the Georgia Institute of Technology compared the frequency of sounds made by people walking up El Castillo with those made at the solid, uneven-stepped Moon Pyramid at Teotihuacan in central Mexico.

At each pyramid, they measured the sounds they heard near the base of the pyramid when a student was climbing higher up. Remarkably similar raindrop noises, of similar frequency, were recorded at both pyramids, suggesting that rather than being caused by El Castillo being hollow, the noise is probably caused by sound waves traveling through the steps hitting a corrugated surface, and being diffracted, causing the particular raindrop sound waves to propagate down along the stairs.

El Castillo is widely believed to have been devoted to the feathered serpent god Kukulcan, but Cruz thinks it may also have been a temple to the rain god Chaac. Indeed, a mask of Chaac is found at the top of El Castillo and also in the Moon Pyramid.

"The Mexican pyramids, with some imagination, can be considered musical instruments dating back to the Mayan civilization," says Cruz, although he adds that there is no direct evidence that the Mayans actually played them.

Click here for the New Scientist article.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Massive Caves Lie Beneath Giza's Pyramids

An explorer peers into caves and tunnels beneath the pyramid field.

An enormous system of caves, chambers and tunnels lies beneath the Pyramids of Giza, according to a British explorer who claims to have found the lost underworld of the pharaohs.

"There is untouched archaeology down there, as well as a delicate ecosystem that includes colonies of bats and a species of spider which we have tentatively identified as the white widow," British explorer Andrew Collins told Discovery News.

He details his findings in the book Beneath the Pyramids to be published in September. He says he tracked down the entrance to the mysterious underworld after reading the forgotten memoirs of a 19th century diplomat and explorer.

"In his memoirs, British consul general Henry Salt recounts how he investigated an underground system of 'catacombs' at Giza in 1817 in the company of Italian explorer Giovanni Caviglia," Collins said.

According to Collins, the caves ~ which may be hundreds of thousands of years old ~ may have both inspired the development of the pyramid field and the ancient Egyptian's belief in an underworld.

"Ancient funerary texts clearly allude to the existence of a subterranean world in the vicinity of the Giza pyramids," Collins says.

Click here for the complete Discovery News article.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pharaoh's Missing Pyramid Discovered

A section of the Saqqara Serapium along the uncovered ceremonial road.

Egyptian archaeologists have uncovered the base of a pharaoh’s "missing pyramid" and a ceremonial procession road where high priests carried mummified remains of sacred bulls.

The pyramid is believed to be that of King Menkauhor, an obscure pharaoh who ruled for only eight years more than 4,000 years ago. In 1842, German archaeologist Karl Richard Lepsius mentioned Menkauhor's pyramid among his finds at Saqqara, calling it the "Headless Pyramid" because its top was missing. But the desert sands covered Lepsius' discovery, and no archaeologist since was able to find it.

"We have filled the gap of the missing pyramid," Egyptian antiquities head Zahi Hawass said told reporters on a tour of the discoveries at Saqqara, the necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt's Old Kingdom, south of Cairo.

Click here for the Discovery News article.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dozens of Painted Mummies Found in Necropolis

One of the brightly colored mummies found near the Ilahun pyramid.

Archaeologists in an Egyptian oasis have found dozens of brightly painted mummies dating back as far as 4,000 years.

"The mission found dozens of mummies in 53 rock-hewn tombs dating to the Middle Kingdom" from 2061-1786 BC, according to Zahi Hawass announced Sunday. "Four of the mummies date back to the 22nd Dynasty (931 to 725 BC) and are considered some of the most beautiful mummies found."

The linen-wrapped mummies are painted in the still-bright traditional ancient Egyptian colors of turquoise, terracotta and gold.

The necropolis was uncovered near the Ilahun pyramid in Fayoum oasis south of Cairo. The team also found 15 painted masks, along with amulets and clay pots, Hawass said.

Click here for the Middle East Online article.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pyramids Constructed Along Extended Diagonal

A number of Egypt's most magnificent pyramids follow a pattern of invisible diagonal lines, an Italian study has concluded. According to Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan's Polytechnic University, these invisible lines would connect most of the funerary complexes raised by the kings of the Old Kingdom between 2630 and 2323 BC.

"Following these diagonals, it appears clear that the arrangement of the monuments was carefully chosen in order to satisfy a number of criteria, which include dynastic lineage, religion and astronomical alignments," Magli tells Discovery News.

The study examined the chronology and geographical location of all the pyramids of the Fourth and Fifth Dynasties, from the Step Pyramid of Djoser (2630-2611 B.C.) to the now-collapsed pyramid of Unas (2356-2323 B.C.), both in Saqqara.

"Our starting point was the so-called 'Giza diagonal,' an ideal line which connects the southeast corners of the three main pyramids and points to Heliopolis. This was an important religious center sacred to the sun god," Magli said.

"Under this model, the funerary monuments of the pharaohs stand one after another, marking the dynastic link with the preceding pharaoh," Magli said. "They are linked by a diagonal which points to Heliopolis."

Attaching new pyramids to the "Giza diagonal" became increasingly difficult as the line extended far into the desert. While the pyramids of Khufu, the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, and his son Khafre were easily aligned along the diagonal, the pyramid of Menkaure, Khufu's grandson, had to be built well into the desert to sit on the line of sight toward Heliopolis.

Click here for the complete Discovery News article.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Relics Found Near Mysterious Pyramid

Archaeologists continue to debate the origin of the mysterious Huapalcalco pyramid in the central Mexican state of Hildalgo.

Sculptures recently found in central Mexico point to a previously unknown culture that likely built a mysterious pyramid in the valley of Tulancingo, a major canyon that drops off into Mexico's Gulf Coast.

Most of the 41 artifacts "do not fit into any of the known cultures of the Valley of Tulancingo, or the highlands of central Mexico," said Carlos Hernández, an archaeologist at Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History in the central state of Hidalgo.

Many of the figures are depicted in a sitting position, with their hands placed on their knees. Some have headdresses or conical hats with snakes at the base, which could represent Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl, the Aztec god of the wind. One figure shows a man emerging from the jaws of a jaguar. They are also made of flat stucco—a combination of fine sand, lime, and water—and painted blue or green to the give the appearance of jade.

All of the artifacts date to the Epiclassic period between A.D. 600 to 900.

Found Near Mysterious Pyramid

Some of the artifacts were also found near the mysterious Huapalcalco pyramid in Hidalgo, whose origin has been a source of debate among archaeologists. Its proportions, along with smaller structures that were painted black and white, do not correspond to the Toltec or Teotihuacan cultures of the same area and time period.

The Teotihuacan people, who lived from 400 B.C. to A.D. 700, constructed one of the largest pyramid complexes in the pre-Hispanic Americas, which refers to cultures that lived on the continent before the Spanish conquest of the Western Hemipshere.

The Toltecs, who came afterward, were made up of several groups of South Americans that together formed an empire famous for its artists and builders in the Teotihuacan capital of Tula from A.D. 900 until the 1100s.

Click here for complete National Geographic article.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Internal Ramp Might Explain Pyramid's Mystery

This 4-minute video explains the internal-ramp theory.

A French architect may have solved the mystery of how ancient Egyptians were able to move two million stone blocks ~ each weighing about 2.5 tons ~ to construct the Great Pyramid.

A little-known cavity spiraling upward inside the pyramid’s structure seems to support the theory that the 4,500-year-old monument to Pharaoh Khufu was constructed from the inside out.

The presence of a spiraling inclined interior tunnel contradicts the prevailing wisdom that the monuments were built using an external ramp. "The paradigm was wrong," French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin said recently. "The idea that the pyramids were built from the outside was just wrong. How can you resolve a problem when the first element you introduce in your thinking is wrong?"

He says for centuries Egyptologists have ignored evidence of an internal ramp.To deliver blocks to the 481-foot peak at a reasonable grade, the ramp would extend a mile, and workers would have had to continually increase its height and length as the pyramid rose.

Click here for the full National Geographic article.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Queen Sesheshet Pyramid Is Discovered

The base of the newly discovered pyramid.

An archaeologist cleans hieroglyphics found on the pyramid.

Egypt chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass today announced the discovery of a 4,300-year-old pyramid in Saqqara, the sprawling necropolis and burial site of the rulers of ancient Memphis.

The pyramid ~ the 118th discovered so far in Egypt ~ is believed to belong to Queen Sesheshet, mother of King Teti who was the founder of the 6th Dynasty of Egypt's Old Kingdom, according to the Associated Press.

Hawass' team has been excavating the site in Saqqara ~ about 12 miles south of Cairo ~ for two years. He says the discovery was only made two months ago when it became clear that the 16-foot-tall structure uncovered from the sand was a pyramid.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scientists Use Lasers to Probe Step Pyramid

The Step Pyramid in Saqqara is Egypt's oldest.

Dozens of American and Japanese scientists, archaeologists and workmen gathered one dawn last week at the base of the Step Pyramid to begin a laser-scanning survey of Egypt’s oldest pyramid complex.

The goal is to use a high-tech laser to create a three-dimensional model of the pyramid, using infrared signals to gather elevations and coordinates at thousands of points along the edifice’s six gigantic steps. The result will be a detailed map of the pyramid plus the three-dimensional model as a valuable reference for restoring the pyramid and monitoring its condition.

The Step Pyramid was built during the reign of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty, 2687-2668 B.C. It is the world’s earliest known stone structure of its size and is the first of the Egyptian pyramids.

The project is a collaborative venture between Americans from the Ancient Egypt Research Associates (AERA) and Japan’s Osaka University, with the laser scanning expected to take about four weeks. For more information, click here for the complete article in Al-Ahram Weekly.