Re-Blog: What Were Pyramids For?


(Originally posted 9/12/2017 on Read With The Gringa)

What do you think about pyramids? A mystery? A fascinating bit of architectural engineering? Monuments to an ancient civilization? Cool place to visit? Tourist trap? Biggest tombs ever built?


If those were your answers, you might have been right on all accounts except one, maybe. There seems to be some wiggle room about whether or not the pyramids were originally constructed as the final resting places of Egypt’s ancient pharaohs. Here’s what we know:

  • No mummies have ever been found within any of the 3 great pyramids of Giza. 

But does that mean that these amazing structures were not tombs? The gringa says, “Not so fast.” Despite the insistence of UFOlogists and ancient alien enthusiasts who argue that, if not tombs, then power generators of celestial origins, there is still plenty of other evidence to support the traditional belief that the pyramids were burial complexes.

With regard to the 3 great pyramids of Giza, they were constructed from 2550-2490 BC. The tallest was built by Pharaoh Khufu. His pyramid is flanked by smaller ones dedicated to Pharaoh Khafre and Pharaoh Menkaure. But Khufu’s remains have never been found. Khafre’s pyramid was also empty. Menkaure’s mummy may or may not have been found. 

There are allegations that part of Menkaure’s mummy may be in the British Museum of London’s Egyptian artifact collection. But there is much controversy that surrounds the authenticity of the remains. Within his pyramid was found a wooden coffin inside a chamber believed to be the king’s chamber. The coffin contained mummified fragments.

So, despite the fact that mummies were not actually discovered is no reason to discount the pyramids as tombs. There have been plenty of other artifacts, burial paraphernalia and relics of Egypt’s ancient death rituals that makes it clear that these were the resting places of ancient Egyptian royalty. The following items were found in Khufu’s great pyramid when it was unsealed in 1925:

  • Access shafts filled in with limestone masonry, bedrock and plaster until solid to prevent entry from outsiders.
  • An entry at the end of the access shaft featuring a doorway bearing the official seal of King Khufu. 
  • A small entry chamber, 15’x8′, clad in gold and bearing inscriptions identifying the contents of the chamber as the burial belongings of Khufu’s mother, Queen Hetepheres.
  • A gold and ebony carrying chair belonging to Queen Hetepheres.
  • The Queen’s palace furniture: golden gilt bed, chairs and storage chests.
  • Jewelry of silver, lapis-lazuli, turquoise and carnelian wrought in the shape of butterflies.
  • Golden toiletry set of wash bowl, water jug, razor, and cosmetic jars.
  • Alabaster chest containing the mummified internal organs of the Queen.
  • The Queen’s empty sarcophagus.

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There are also those who point to how small many of the coffins and sarcophagi are. They claim that they were never meant to house a human body. But once you understand what happened to the human body during an ancient Egyptian burial ritual, you understand why the coffins are so small. 

For one thing, the dehydration process performed resulted in significant shrinkage. So, no, ancient Egyptians were not small, dwarfish half-alien/half-human creatures. I mean, think about it. When adventurers encountered deep jungle tribal people, got slaughtered, and their remains cannibalized and leaving behind a shrunken head trophy made to commemorate their ill-fated visit, nobody supposes that those adventurers were diminutive space aliens traipsing about South American jungles.

So, just because no one seems to be found to be at home and receiving guests at the pyramids, that doesn’t mean they were not originally intended to reside there. Tomb raiders have had centuries to ransack these resting places. Once notorious tomb raiders made local ancient headlines, there is no doubt that many Pharaohs built their elaborate burial shrines with instructions for a burial service with all the pomp and circumstance royalty deserves. But then a secret plan to actually bury the kings and queens at an unknown address was carried out in the dead of night. 

Why should such a possibility be beyond belief? After all, doesn’t that sound familiar to those dear readers with a Judeo-Christian background? Doesn’t the bibilical story go that god hid Moses’ body when he died in the wilderness? Why would such a strange detail be a part of the story? Because at that particular time in ancient history, the local cultures were rife with bad guys who would rob the burial places of famous leaders hoping to enrich themselves with a tidy stash of loot.

So, sorry to all you dear readers who are still holding out hope that ancient extra-terrestrial ancestors shared natural power generator technology with the Egyptians. That’s not what happened. The great pyramids are the result of something very common: mankind’s desire for immortality, the desire to never be forgotten, and incredible ego that demands a monument to its greatness.

But, really, when you study the real history of ancient Egyptian culture, religion and the kings and queens who led each kingdom, it’s fascinating. Why would you need to make up something else like space aliens?

Sources: 

Image Credits: 

Ancient Egypt

Video Credit:

Getty Museum

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Curses! Curses, I Say! Or, Maybe Not


If you’ve ever indulged in the fantasy of an Indiana Jones-style adventure, the gringa knows EXACTLY how you feel! Epic excitement and mystery! But what the heck is up with all of those curses? Are they real? Have people died mysteriously because they explored ancient Egyptian tombs? Is there any science to explain how it happened? Were ancient Egyptians magical booby-trap designers?

Let’s look at the curse of all curses, the Curse of the Pharaohs.  It claims that if you disturb the resting place of any ancient Egyptian (not just a pharaoh), you are in for big trouble. So, that would stand to reason, in the gringa’s mind, that if you messed about with a pharaoh’s tomb, you should get trouble on an exponential level.

The most famous ancient Egyptian pharaoh tomb in modern history to be explored is that of Tutankhamun, discovered by Howard Carter November 4, 1922. Was a curse released when the tomb’s seal was broken 3 months later on February 16, 1923? Well, apparently there were quite a few deaths that occurred:

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert,  Earl of Carnarvon (we’ll just call him George-and, Downtown Abbey fans, yes, THAT Carnarvon!), was the fella who paid for the adventure.  About 5 weeks after the seal was broken, March 25, 1923, rich, ol’ George dropped dead from a mosquito bite that became infected when he cut himself shaving shortly after he arrived in Cairo.

Was such a death a rare occurrence, thus indicative of supernatural causes? Nope.  According to industrial records from 1923, contained within “The Industrial Bulletin, Volumes 1-5”, 16 deaths were filed with the US Workmen’s Compensation Bureas in a single MONTH, deaths caused by infection of cuts received on the job. As recent as 2010 more than 27,000 people died from sepsis specifically related to bedsores. In other words, they died when their wounds and sores became infected.

The gringa’s inclined to think that ol’ George’s death was not because of a pharaoh’s curse but just bad hygiene and bad luck. He also had a reputation for being a rather sickly fellow in the first place. No wonder, then, that a tiny mosquito back and contaminated razor cut did him in. But what of the other folks said to have died from Tut’s curse?

George had a half-brother, Colonel Aubrey Herbert, MP. He was a radiologist and X-rayed King Tut. He died six months after his brother, September 26, 1923, from arsenic poisoning.  Now, brother Aubrey had bad eyesight all of his life. He was practically blind and a dentist thought he could solve the problem.  Instead, he got poisoned. Crazy as it sounds, arsenic has a long and illustrious history of use in dentistry, often used as a pain reliever and root canal treatment. Was brother Aubrey a victim of supernatural vengeance? Probably not.  Just another victim in a long line of dental victims. Even today you get your teeth capped or drilled at your own risk. A dentist patient dies, on average in America, every other day.

So what about the American railway mogul, George Jay Gould? He died from a fever after he visited the tomb. Also quite common.

Then there’s Egyptian prince, Ali Kamel Fah. His wife shot him dead not long after he enjoyed a photo safari of the tomb. The gringa thinks the wrath of a wife probably has nothing at all to do with anyone that’s been dead for millennia.

Another guy who X-rayed the mummy, Sir Archibald Douglas Reid, also died. Supposedly from a mystery illness but the gringa’s pretty sure that travel to exotic places often resulted in all kinds of mystery illnesses in 1924 that are, today, considered quite common.

Another victim of gun violence who visited the tomb was the governor of Sudan, Sir Lee Stack. He was shot while driving through the streets of Cairo. Methinks the possibility of an assassin’s bullet, inspired by nationalist fervor, angry at all of these foreigners desecrating the revered resting places of their ancestors is more likely than a curse. Maybe it was a politically motivated assassination by factions unhappy with foreign powers involved in the Sudan. Or, it could have been the work of a greedy tomb raider who wants all these folks gone so they can stage a raid and enjoy some profit.

And then tragedy strikes George’s family, yet again, when his other brother, Mervyn Herbert, dies of malaria related pneumonia. But, there again, dying from malaria, even today, when visiting an exotic locale, is nothing mysterious.

Another guy on George’s team, A. C. Mace, also died of arsenic poisoning in 1928.  Rather than think sinister spirits were flitting about for five years wreaking havoc on unsuspecting curiosity seekers, the gringa thinks it’s more likely that Mace made an unfortunate visit to the dentist.

And what of Captain Richard Bethell? Dead from self-inflicted poisoning, munching on toxic tidbits in bed, much like how the gringa snacks on bon-bons while enjoying a good book. Stupidity or suicide, I say, not a curse. Most likely suicide because, a year later, his father committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of an apartment building.

Although it is disturbing to see the number of deaths that occurred within just a few years of opening King Tut’s tomb, the details reveal credible reasons, some with scientific evidence, to explain them as quite normal and of this world. So, if you plan to visit Egypt, don’t be afraid of any, ol’ curse. Visit the tombs. Explore the pyramids. Ride some camels. But get inoculated for malaria before you go, sleep under mosquito netting, use insect repellant, and wear long sleeves!

Sources:

World Travel Guide

South Coast Herald

Dallas News

National Institutes of Health

Mirror UK

Live Science

The Daily Beast

Google Books

Image Credit:  Unrated Film

Fashion, Big Headed Aliens & P.T. Barnum


In the first of the three posts regarding the extra-terrestrial connection with ancient Egypt, the gringa felt pretty confident that the singular event of one particular pharaoh presenting with a suspiciously bulbous head and large limbed body could be attributed to a congenital abnormality rather than extra-terrestrial hybridization. However, in Peru, there is more than one elongated skull to consider. And the multiple elongated skulls in Peru are not accompanied with the usual gigantism to consider the condition to be a classic and common birth defect. So, then, were there big headed aliens living in South America? Is that why the gringa’s caveman has such a big head?

South of Lima, in the same vicinity the Nazca lines can be found, is the Paracas Peninsula, home to the ancient Paracas civilization. Existing from 800-100BC, the Paracas were the precursors to the Nazca civilization. Eking out a life in the coastal desert of southern Peru, the Paracas became adepts at irrigation in order to manage their cotton crops.

As cotton producers, it is only natural that the culture would be textile driven. They were known to be master weavers who created complex and intricate textile patterns. Elaborately patterned clothing was how they denoted status and rank. This focus on clothing for the purpose of social identity may have been the result of being a culture with no written language.

Paracas history is defined by two eras: Cavernas (500-300BC) and Necropolis (300-100BC). The earlier period is noted as the time the culture wrapped their dead in simple fabrics then entombed them in underground caverns with pottery brightly decorated with animal motifs. The later Necropolis period shifted to more elaborate mass burials within prepared chambers featuring horizontal shelving carved into cavern walls. Mummies wore more decorative textiles and were placed in a fetal position. They would be buried with elaborate jewelry, sacred objects and staple foods such as maize. Many of these mummies presented with elongated skulls.

Why did Paracas people have big heads?  Were they aliens? Evidence indicates that they were wholly human and had purposely manipulated their skulls into these extraordinary conditions. The elongated skull mummies were usually found to be entombed with more valuable textiles and jewelry. Skull elongation could very well have been a fashion statement of the rich and famous. Perhaps my big-headed caveman is the descendant of Paracas nobility. That’s all the gringa needs; a caveman who thinks he’s the king.

How the heck could a primitive culture perform “cosmetic surgery” and change the shape of skulls? Well, the gringa discovers the Paracas were not as primitive as one might think. They were, perhaps, the originators of “trepanning”. That’s the old fashioned method of brain surgery where a doctor drills a hole in your skull to treat your psychiatric disorder by letting the evil spirits out or to relieve you of chronic headaches. These holes would then be patched with gold plates. Sweet.  So, it may very well have been within their medical skill to reshape a human skull. After all, over three hundred of these skulls were found in 1928 in an archaeological funerary dig in Paracas by Peruvian archaeologist Julio Tello.

Most historians have explained that the procedure to deform a skull in this fashion would begin in infancy. By cradle boarding and binding of the head, the skull would gradually be trained to an elongated shape. However, recent findings using modern methods and technology has revealed there may be more to the Paracas story than simply squeezing baby heads.

Recently it was widely reported that an assistant director for a Peruvian museum announced that DNA analysis of a Paracas skull revealed that the DNA is a mutation unknown to “any human, primate, or animal known” to our world. The inference being that perhaps there were other-worldly origins to the elongated Paracas skulls. So who is this Brien Foerster and what kind of place is this Paracas History Museum he works for?

The museum is actually not a museum at all. It is really just a private collection owned by a fellow named Juan Navarro. First of all, any search for a website is fruitless. I mean, really, what legitimate business doesn’t have a website or even a Facebook page? And, although a Facebook page listing pops up, um, there is nothing there!

But, aha! Brien Foerster has a Facebook page. His page reveals a passion for the paranormal and extra-terrestrial. Although the gringa does not doubt his sincerity and commitment to marching to the beat of his own drum, I do question his methods. True science follows a method that is inscrutable and allows its findings to be questioned and the reporters of data to have their credibility tested. Although he claims to have DNA evidence to support his extra-terrestrial Paracas theory, he has not published the source of such evidence in order for his claim to be verified. Although Mr. Foerster may use the title of “scientist”, the gringa believes he is misspelling the title. It should go something like this… Mr. Brien Foerster, pseudo-scientist.

The gringa’s only other option to determine the legitimacy of this museum, short of visiting it in person, is to look at reviews from visitors. One fella stopped by twice in the same day, during business hours, but it was closed. He tried again the next day and got the same results. However, by camping out on the front steps he did make contact with a neighbor who let him into the building and he viewed the skulls. Not the kind of security I would expect if your museum housed the only biological specimen that proved extra-terrestrial life on planet Earth.

Another museum goer informs the public that the museum’s entire collection can be viewed in about ten minutes.  Although another review claims this “not-a-museum”  museum can actually be toured in 5 minutes. A couple of reviews find the space alien connection “amusing”. And, if you give ol’ Juan (the museum’s owner who doubles as the guide) a sizable tip, he will let you see a secret skull that looks “vaguely human”. And for an extra five bucks you can take a photo of the exhibits.  Mm hmm.  I understand now why some reviews state “rip-off alert” in their descriptions of the place.

So, the best the gringa can determine as far as “facts” go is that:

  • A personal collection of old Paracas trinkets are exhibited in a tiny storefront and marketed as a “museum” by the owner/tour guide who has no background in history or archaeology.
  • The “museum’s” assistant director is reported to have a Bachelor of Science degree from a university in Canada but his personal Facebook page states that he only studied biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics at the University of Victoria, no degree indicated. So, nothing qualifies him as a geneticist, archaeologist or historian other than a personal obsession turned hobby turned business venture. You see, Mr. Foerster owns a tour guide company whose bread and butter is made from promoting the extra-terrestrial/Paracas skulls exhibited at the “Paracas History Museum” owned by his friend, good ol’ Juan.
  • When attempts by experts to validate the DNA claims have been made, Mr. Foerster has refused to reveal the details of the DNA research claiming that the analyst wishes to remain anonymous.

I see. It seems the Paracas elongated skull story of alien connections has the smell of P.T. Barnum all over it. So, did the Paracas elite have extraordinarily long, bulbous skulls? Yes. Were they extra-terrestrials? No, just very vain people.  It seems there is nothing new under the sun.

 

Sources & Image Credit:

www.ancient-origins.net

www.boundless.com

www.discover-peru.org

www.britannica.com

www.infowars.com

http://www.quora.com

doubtfulnews.com

www.tripadvisor.com

http://www.missiongalacticfreedom.wordpress.com

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org