Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, February 11, 2016



Here's an item you might have missed! It comes to us from Cairo. On Monday, the Egyptian government announced they have banned ANNREJ CIESIELSKI from entering their country. MAMDOAH ELDAMATY, the Minister of Antiquities, issued the official notice to the German Embassy. Why all the fuss? It's because an overly adventurous 18 year-old skirted security and scaled the Great Pyramid of Cheops. That's against the law and comes with a hefty three year sentence. Fortunately for Andrej, Egypt is currently trying to lure tourists back to their land. So a 'life-time' ban is clearly the right punishment for the crime.

We here at the DUNER BLOG thought we'd use this incident to clear up a couple of the misconceptions about the Great Pyramids at Giza.

THEY ARE NOT BUILT BY ALIENS. A widely held belief is that ancient humans did not build the pyramids. See, they were dumb and did not possess the technology necessary to construct the world's largest structures. Only other-world, alien architects could complete such an enormous task. Rubbish! The truth is that homo sapiens have two separate epochs on earth: The Egyptian (5000 - 800 BC) and the Post-Egyptian (800 BC - present). All of our major advances as a species occurred in the first period: Agriculture, language, religion, math, alphabets, etc. To build the pyramids, Old Kingdom pharaohs assembled man's largest construction company ever. 100,000 people worked day and night, hauling stones up ramps...without the use of the wheel.

THEY ONCE HOUSED MUMMIES. Once again, Hollywood has high-jacked a historical truth and manufactured it into something completely fictional. The three great pyramids were built as mausoleums for successive Fourth Dynasty pharaohs. Not surprisingly, each was built just a bit larger than the previous leader. The tallest housed the body of Khufu--the Westernized version of the word is Cheops. In proper accordance with religious traditions of the day, the body of a pharaoh would be disemboweled and wrapped in fine cloth. However, they did not ever come back to life, groan in English, and dance the Moonwalk.

THE SPHINX IS TINY. No blog about the Great Pyramids would be complete without mentioning the Sphinx. Like the Alamo in San Antonio, the Sphinx is much smaller in real life. Cartoon movies erroneously portray it to be on par with the pyramids. But at 66 feet high, it truly sits in the shadows. Also, Napoleon's men did not shoot the nose off the face. Turks were the vandals. NOTE: Turks also blew the roof off the Acropolis as well.

THE SIDES OF THE PYRAMIDS WERE ONCE SMOOTH. Had the German daredevil tried to scale the sides of the Great Pyramid back in 2500 BC, he would have found a completely flat surface. See, when originally built, casing stones surround the base. Ciesielski would have encountered a shimmering, polished white limestone wall, not the climbable jagged boulders of today. Way back in the year 1303 AD, a massive earthquake loosened the casing stones, sending them careening down to the sand below. Fifty years later, an enterprising sultan, An-Nasir al-Hassan, carted them away to build mosques and fortresses in Cairo. You can see them today in the Alabaster Mosque and the Citadel.

YOU CAN GO INSIDE THEM. Sorry, the mummy of Cheops was looted 4,000 years ago during the First Intermediate Period. In fact, by the time Cleopatra reigned, the pyramids were already in gross disrepair. Nowadays, the only way to get inside the Great Pyramid is through the "Robber's Tunnel." This passage was made using a battering ram by a corrupt caliph in the year 820 AD. If you do decide to venture inside, do plan ahead: Only 300 tourists are allowed in every day. Don't go if you are claustrophobic or if you are overly sensitive to body odor.

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