Egypt... home of vast deserts and hidden treasures... an intriguing land that has been beckoning mystics and adventurers for centuries. Historians, Egyptologists, linguists, archaeologists, scientists and anthropologists have spent countless years trying to decipher and decode lessons left behind by advanced ancient kingdoms. Yet there is still so much that is unexplained...
Come with me and step into this world of wonder... let's dip into the realm of some of Egypt's many Unsolved Mysteries...
The Great Pyramids
The ancient Egyptians called Giza Rostau, which means "the Gateway to the Otherworld." Giza today still draws the mind to contemplation of the universe. The Great Pyramids, with their entrances facing towards the North Star, have forever let one's eyes to the heavens. Next to the pyramids, the mighty Sphinz, the Guardian of ancient mysteries, has gazed towards the east since a time long gone, eyes focused on eternity, reading a message in the stars.
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Is it possible that people studied sciences like astronomy thousands of years before telescopes or satellites were even dreamed of? Historians sometimes debate whether or not the ancient Egyptians could have known that the earth is a sphere. Most of them think not. How could these ancient humans have known that the earth was round more than five thousand years before Columbus sailed west to prove it? Yet a closer look at the Pyramids of Giza and at sacred temples all over the country reveal that the ancient Egyptians might have known much more than just the earth's shape. Could it be that they knew of the movement of the stars? Millenniums before Copernicus and Galileo battled with the nobles of Europe to accept their theories that the earth was not the center of the universe, were Egyptian intellectuals mapping the earth's rotation with respect to other stars and planets?
As we saw back in Peru with the amazing Nazca lines, astrological and mathematical advancements were being made long before the astronomers, explorers, and mathemeticians of the modern world were even born. Yet these modern pioneers of science and technology are credited with discovering and defining the principles of the universe. Is it a threat to modern science to acknowledge that pre-scientific-method cultures dared to understand the world according to number, measure, and wieght? Is it a threat to the way in which we view the world?
Then why do scholars dismiss the fact that the ratio of the height of the great pyramid to the perimiter at its base is almost equal to the ratio between the polar radius of the earth and the earth's circumference? And what about the fact that the three pyramids of Giza form a precise map of the three stars on Orion's belt? How could the ancient Egyptians have deciphered such measurements? How did the ancient Egyptians make the detailed drawings of the zodiac chart, like the bas relief carvings in the temple of Dendara? How did they know that the 12 constellations of the zodiac shift according to a very complex phenomenon known as "precession". ("Precession" describes the wobble of the earth's axis.) This wobble moves the positions of the stars by one degree every 72 years. Were the ancient Egyptians aware of precession and its effects even before the Greek astronomer Hipparchus supposedly discovered it?
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The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Now let's journey north to the shores of the Mediterranean, where the great minds of ancient Greece met the great minds of ancient Egypt... where King Ptolemy I ordered the construction of a sentinel of unprecedented significance: a lighthouse that could guide ships into the port of Alexandria at night. It was called the Pharos Lighthouse, and it was one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. It could reflect firelight far out to sea, but it also allowed the keeper of the lighthouse to detect approaching ships that could not be seen by the naked eye.
What was the mysterious mirror or lens that allowed such unforeseen abilities? Could the scientists of ancient Alexandria have discovered the lens centuries before its established creation? Unfortunately, the secret of the lens was forever lost when the two upper stories of the enormous lighthouse were wrecked. The story goes that the Byzantine emperor was jealous of the lighthouse which prevented him from being able to attack Alexandria, so he spread rumors that it was built upon the hidden treasure of Alexander the Great. Before Alexandrians could do anything to stop him, the Egyptian caliph had demolished the top of the lighthouse seeking treasure, and the incredible mechanism was lost forever in the sea.
Mysteries of Abydos
scientific method - the process of observing something, making a hypothesis, carefully experimenting to test the hypothesis, and then making a conclusion
sentinel - someone who stands guard
bas relief - slightly raised carved figures on a flat background
In the same way that Muslims hope to visit Mecca once in their lifetimes, and Hindus aspire to have their remains brought to the Ganges River in Varanasi, ancient Egyptians devoutly wished to make a pilgrimage to Abydos, the cult center of the god Osiris. Abydos was situated along the Nile in the middle of the country. Those who failed to make the trip in their lifetimes hoped to do so after death. The kings of Egypt- all the way through the time of the Ptolemies- brought their dead to this sacred site to be buried. They believed that the head of the the great god Osiris, god of the dead, was buried there.
Seti I was among the rulers who built great temples at Abydos. The Temple of Seti I is still hailed as a masterpiece of ancient Egyptian monuments. While the temples of Karnak and Luxor are renowned for their colossal size, it is the remarkable quality of the bas relief carvings that distinguishes the Temple of Seti I. The reliefs are among the finest works of the New Kingdom. They brought back Old Kingdom forms in an artistic revival that mirrored Seti's political efforts to consolidate the Dynasty and recover lost territory. Because of this renaissance, Seti's reign (1318-1304 BC) is known as the "era of repeating births."
Deep behind the forecourt and sanctuaries of the main templecomplex is the Osireion, or burial place. A reward awaits those adventurers who wade through the ankle deep, stagnant water that fills this temple... It is one of the most bewildering of this land's many mysteries... Behind the Osireion are some hieroglyphs carved into the wall...
Look for yourself... what do you see?
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A helicopter? A submarine? A tank? A UFO? On a temple wall that was built over 3,000 years ago?! How could that be? Could it be that those who worshipped this god of birth and death and the cycle of return were in tune with a future return? Could the place be so powerful as to have allowed ancient Egyptians to see what ships future rulers would be using?
These are only a few of Egypt's many Unsolved Mysteries... as if trying to figure out how they built a perfect pyramid out of 6 million tons of rocks over 4,500 years ago isn't enough to keep you perplexed!
Click on the link for a more complete history of the Pharos Lighthouse.
Click on the link for a more conventional explanation of the "helicopter" carvings at Abydos
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