Some Further Sidelights on Egypt Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein What Was the Great Pyramid at Giza? Although there were many funeral chambers all over Egypt for the Pharaohs and their families, it has seemed to many researchers it is unlikely the Great Pyramid was a burial chamber; it seems never to have housed a mummy, and there’s no evidence on its walls as there is in so many other actual burial sites that there was ever to be anyone buried there. Various suggestions have been made for an alternative purpose of the Pyramid—a granary, a pump for irrigating the fields of the Nile valley, an initiation hall for the mystery school of Egypt, an astronomical observatory, and so forth. (But most Egyptologists still insist it was a tomb.) How Was It Built? Over the centuries researchers have questioned how the ancient Old Kingdom Egyptians could have built a structure as gigantic as the Great Pyramid (481 ft. high, and covering an area of 13.1 acres) out of huge stone blocks, some weighing as much as 20 tons, and with enviable precision in both its dimensions and orientation, and all without wheels, pulleys, or iron tools. You can find one suggestion by engineer Craig B. Smith, P.E., who explained the project in “The Great Builders of Egypt,” on Arts & Entertainment, wherein he suggested the most practical approach would have been to use a series of sloping ramps. (Smith also has an article on the subject in Civil Engineering, June 99, Vol. 69, Issue 6, p. 34. ) Another really creative suggestion for the building of the Great Pyramid is that instead of slaves dragging the stones a couple of hundred miles from where they were quarried, they may have been floated down a manmade channel, then put in place under water, which would account for the extreme evenness and precision with which they were laid. One researcher has demonstrated by making a model that the Great Pyramid could have been used as a water pump, so the likelihood is that if this scenario is true, once it was built, the water was pumped out of it via the pumping mechanism, and the ground around it was then leveled. Why Mummification? Another aspect of the Egyptian view of reality was the extreme interest they took in the afterlife, and the process of mummification was a preparation for that afterlife.  Some researchers have suggested that the Egyptians believed in transmigration of the soul but thought that if the previously inhabited body was properly preserved, the soul wouldn’t have to reincarnate. (It is pretty clear from extant literature that they didn’t think the afterworld was a terrible place, so long as the soul was judged to be “sinless” and “light.”)  As an additional reason why the Egyptians took such an interest in having the body mummified, we know they believed in three forms of spirit associated with the dead body: the Ka, the Ba, and the Akh. The Ka was a form of spirit that seems very like modern reports of ghost energy; the Ka was believed to hang around the dead body, coming out to replay some of the actions of the living person. It was believed the Ka was interested in food, and in fact the word “ka” means “sustenance,” so the Egyptians left food out daily in the tombs so that the Ka could eat. The Ba was very like modern descriptions of the astral body; it could go anywhere, flying from here to there, visiting friends and overseeing what was going on in the physical world. In the “Dispute of a Man with His Soul,” it appears to be the Ba with whom the man is arguing. The Akh is described in terms very like modern descriptions given by those who have had near death experiences of going to a place of light, led by a predeceased family member or divine being, and then going through a judgment experience.  The picture of the person being led by Thoth and judged by Osiris is a representation of the Akh. The best process of mummification was probably the earliest, wherein bodies (which are 75% water) were put into the hot desert sands and left there to dehydrate, after which they could be stored indefinitely.  Later chemical processes of mummification were never as effective as this dehydration method, and the Egyptians found that without dehydration, they needed to put the internal organs in jars and keep them separated from the body (see above for information on Canopic jars in the shape of the sons of Horus).  The brain they generally disposed of altogether. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily