Possible controversy about the age of the Pyramids

Feb 2017
133
Pacific Ocean
I have been reading a book named "Egyptian Dawn", by the (very) controversial Robert Temple. In it he uses a luminescence dating method on Menkaure's Pyramid, and finds out that it is too old to be built in Menkaure's lifetime (even considering the huge - almost 1000 years - margin of error; the most recent date possible for its construction is still too old). As the method seems somewhat solid (as far as I could learn from the Wikipedia article) I ignored Temple's previous "credentials" and thought that maybe he has stumbled into something good this time (as opposed to this).

Another point made in the book is that there is a rather big technology gap between the end of the Second Dynasty and the beginning of the Third. The tomb used by the last king of the Second Dynasty (Khasekhemwy) contains a lot of rough stone that doesn't seem to have been polished at all. Additionally, the building is pretty small, in comparison to, say, the Step Pyramid, attributed to Djoser (actually built by Imhotep) some 20-30 years later by the conventional dynastic timeline. The difference in technology can be observed by comparing the tomb to these alabaster jars made in Imhotep's lifetime (I really don't know if that is a fair comparison to make, seeing that these are two different kinds of technologies) and to these stones just outside the Step Pyramid. So although one could argue that in 20-30 years a lot can change (as we see everyday with computers) there is still the problem that the changes happening today follow some kind of progression, dating back to over 200 years of Industrial Revolution, while the change that happened in Imhotep's time seems to have no progression at all.

As the author of the book is controversial (actually he might be accused of practicing pseudoarchaeology), these claims might not hold water, but I ask you to ignore their origin and just consider them individually. Could we really be wrong about the age of the Pyramids? And is there something we don't know about the succession from the Second Dynasty to the Third? If the author is just speculating here, I wish to know what kind of evidence we use to date the Pyramids and what explanation might there be for that apparent technology gap, as I couldn't find the answer to both of these on simple Wikipedia articles.
 
Sep 2013
650
Ontario, Canada
There was some kind of fundamental shift in the religious system of early ancient Egypt in which the Pharaohs of the Third Dynasty were able to harness a national effort towards pyramid building. It started with Djoser and seemingly was massively accelerated by a dynamic personality (Imhotep?) in the same way that JFK directed the US to go from launching simple rockets to walking on the moon within a 10 year span, all because of a focused, dedicated effort by everyone. Once pyramid building became a part of the national will, great things like the Giza Pyramids were suddenly possible.

I believe we have a rough idea of what the age is from radiocarbon dating of organic materials originally found within the pyramid. Ancient charcoal and bits of wood and stuff left behind during construction, all of that stuff has been pulled out and tested, giving us a dating around 2500 BCE. But it may actually be older, though we can't be sure due to impurities and contaminations making carbon dating imprecise.

edit: 'Radiocarbon dating at Giza': http://www.ancient-wisdom.com/Ghizawhen.htm

There's another theory, the Orion Correlation Theory, that postulates that the air shafts of the Great Pyramid originally lined up with stars in the nighttime sky which corresponds to today's Orion's Belt. They think the King's body was placed in it and his spirit presumably rose through the shafts towards the stars to join the gods. For all of that stuff to line up properly they calculated that Khufu's Pyramid would have to be constructed many hundreds of years earlier than thought.
 
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cladking

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
2,772
exile
We have a pretty good feel for relative dating in ancient Egypt because they kept count of the years a king served and we know when various individuals died relative to these periods.

But there is no means known at the current time to tie this to an absolute time frame or our own system of time keeping. Very little real science has been done but what has been done suggests the pyramids are a little older than orthodoxy suggests. Rather than being 4470 years old as Egyptology maintains C14 dating suggests they are closer to 4750 years old.
 
Feb 2017
133
Pacific Ocean
The theory Temple proposes is that Northern Egypt was really different from Southern Egypt before their unification under Southern rule (he even says they were different kinds of people, had different origins). He says that it is possible that, even though they were not militarily strong, Northern Egypt had greater technology than its Southern counterpart. For this reason they were able to build great Pyramids, while the South only built mastabas. Also Northern pharaoh tombs were bigger and more elaborate than Southern ones. This could be related to the period in question if, for example, the Second Dynasty was composed of Southern rulers, while the Third was composed of Northern ones, that used their greater technology to built greater temples. Would that contradict modern Egyptology?
 
Nov 2015
276
Yooper
I was reading about Luminescence dating the other day and came up with an idea with dating the pyramids. Take one of the bottom casing stones off at night with as little damaging light as possible and do the test of the base and underside of the casing stone... The fun part would be just how hard that feat would be in this day and time, logistically not politically. Plus, put it back just the way it was.

Strange that there is no record of building the great pyramid nor when the casing stones came cascading down or who used them. A couple of years ago there was deciphered a text about a large strange storm and a pyramid came down. Probably the casing stones only from an air burst from a bolide. I say double the consciences.
 
Nov 2015
276
Yooper

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,074
MD, USA
Thanks Todd, did not know that. One would think that there would be something inscribed in stone about that pyramid.
The pyramid WAS its own statement! It was a glaringly obvious symbol of that king's immortality, indelible and eternal. Whether you can read hieroglyphics or not!

And it worked.

Do you happen to know anything about the missing lid in the 'king's chamber'? There must be fragments inside somewhere as it would be a waist of time to remove it or the fragments completely outside.
Nah, folks have bee lugging everything that can be moved out of pyramids and tombs pretty much since the doors were first shut. Even in the last couple decades there has been some "cleaning up" of loose stones and debris in the King's Chamber, for example the stone that closed the current entrance is visible in many older photos but does not seem to be there any more. (Don't remember where I saw this, but it included recent photos.)

Matthew
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
6,958
Planet Nine, Oregon
Cenotaphs were also used by the Egyptians, so that is perhaps a possibility. The real burial chamber might still be in there. There was a legend that the pharaoh had the Book of Thoth consulted to hide the chamber, IIRC. I suspect it might have been built right into the construction with only a "Ka" sized access tunnel (just a guess). What Matt said about the lid!
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
6,958
Planet Nine, Oregon
I'm amazed at the level of coordination required to make large things like pyramids and erecting obelisks, etc. Were drums, flags, or other methods used? They seem to have a preternatural ability to work together to create complex things.