Lecture3 Egypt – Pyramids

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    This is a great course – thanks a million for putting it online and giving us this tremendous learining opportunity! This is highly capturing material. I already took the first three lectures in one go.

    I also already have one question about the pyramids. You point out that the origin of the pyramids have been the subject of ample speculation, but they very likely were tombs for the pharaos.

    Nassim Haramein in this video (approximately from minute 03:00 onwards) is making some arguments in favor of a different explanation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcwOsz6W2jc

    I understand that Haramein is physicist and not a historian. I would, thus, be interested in the judgement of a historian on the following questions:

    – Can Haramein’s viewpoints be dismissed from a scientific historian perspective?
    – If not, with what level of likelihood can they be accurate?

    Many thanks in advance for your feedback,

    Jason Jewell

    Thanks for the link, Walter. I’ll view this and get back to you tomorrow. (This semester, Monday and Wednesday are my heavy teaching days, leaving little time to interact on the forums.)

    Jason Jewell

    I don’t want to be unduly dismissive of this interpretation, so let’s analyze it a bit.

    The speaker in this video appears to be reasoning thus: the pyramids are so marvelous that they could not have been built by the ancient Egyptians in the time available to them with the tools they had. I believe this argument can be challenged in a few ways.

    First, he’s resting the entire argument on the Great Pyramid of Giza and not making references to the many other pyramids in Egypt constructed earlier. If you look at these earlier pyramids, you see many that were the product of inferior engineering. Several collapsed during construction. They did not contain the same degree of mathematical accuracy as the Great Pyramid. We can infer that pyramid-building was a progressively developed science in ancient Egypt over several centuries, and the Great Pyramid represents its pinnacle.

    Second, his assumptions concerning the manpower and time devoted to pyramid construction are (I think) arbitrary. There’s no reason why the pharaohs might not have had a year-round conscript force working on a pyramid during his lifetime, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that the largest pyramids took more than 20 years.

    If you really want to dig into the pyramids, there is a good lecture series published by the Great Courses titled “Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt” taught by an Egyptologist who has actually been inside several pyramids, seen the burial chambers, etc.


    Thanks a lot, Dr. J, for your reply and for pointing out this course. I have just bought it 🙂

    It is still too early for me to make conclusions on the topic of the pyramids. I am very interested in further pursuing this topic, however, as I feel that very fundamental conclusions on the nature of humanity hinge on this topic.

    Playing devil’s advocate against the conclusion of mainstream science (that pyramids were built by the Egyptians as tombs for the pharaohs), I would see the following indications (not more and not less) at the moment not in favor of mentioned mainstream conclusion:

    – An alternative view could be that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh is much older than assumed today. Egyptians then might have tried to reproduce pyramids on their own with quite poor results. But even if Egyptians had previous experience setting up pyramids and then built the Great Pyramid of Gizeh around ~2500 BC, the level of accuracy is still tremendous: an area of 13 square acres, 2.3 mio quite big stones and the apex is only a quarter of an inch off center. Doing this with today’s technology is quite difficult at the least and probably even impossible (I will have to verify this, though). It is difficult to believe how Egyptians four and a half thousand years ago would have been able to do so with much poorer technology and much fewer resources than we have available today. It would still take 2 minutes per stone for 20 full years (at 12 working hours per day). Some impressive pictures to illustrate: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/109813896768294978296/albums/5632065190489236417

    – According to Haramein (I will have to verify these claims, too) there are no hieroglyphs in any pyramid and no mummy has ever been found inside any pyramid worldwide. The argument of tomb raiders is poor, if it is true that in modern day we had to initially use dynamite in order to get into the pyramid at all. Also, according to Haramein the Egyptians have never claimed to have built the pyramids (something to be verified, too), which would seem odd at least.

    – It is not straightforward to me (yet) how ancient Egyptians would have been able to cut stones of this size and precision (with their rudimentary technology at that time) and transport them significant distances.

    – The following is a weaker argument, but still: I have learned over the past two years, that mainstream science sometimes can be quite dubious. Examples: I have studied economics at University, which consisted almost entirely of Keynesianism. I was quite startled to recently realize (also thanks to people like Tom Woods) that all these years at University were nothing but outright and intentional propaganda and brainwash. Friends of mine in different academic fields (for example in medical fields) have made (and continue to make) similar discoveries. As such I have grown skeptical of mainstream conclusions on important topics. I know, applied to the specific topic of pyramids, this is a poor argument at best. However it is still something that is in the back of mind, when trying to analyse this topic.

    – Some sources (like Manetho) seem to suggest the Egypt’s history goes back much further. I assume (again, to be verified) that there could be some probability that these sources are actually right and the current mainstream consent could be wrong.

    – It would also fit in nicely with Jeremiah 32:20: http://bible.cc/jeremiah/32-20.htm. If this paragraph is partially historic in nature, then Jeremiah could actually be referring to the Great Pyramids here.

    I know, a lot of speculation at this point. I will have to dig much deeper on this subject in order to be able to make anything close to a solid statement/conclusion.

    Sidenote: Thanks again for making your work available in this form. I am still thrilled by the level of quality and excellence in the content that I have purchased here.

    Jason Jewell

    Walter, thanks for your comments, and I’m glad to know you believe the subscription is worth the money. Please spread the word as much as you can. The more subscribers we have, the more lecture series we can make available to everyone! I’d love to see a dozen or more series on the website within a few years, but each one is pretty costly to produce, so we need the subscriber base to justify them.


    I can imagine that it is very costly to produce these lectures. I will spread the word accordingly (and will actually ‘force’ a number of friends to subscribe). The more courses the better.


    Forcing friends to subscribe! That’s the spirit! 🙂


    I told a woman who’s my assistant manager at work, of whom is taking U.S. History from 1880 to present in college. She told me the old, “But what about the roads” when trying to explain how the income tax is illegal. (Instantly, she started walking away from me almost in disgust).

    Jason Jewell

    Eric, I welcome your comment here, of course, but is it possible you intended this one for the 2nd U.S. course’s board?


    It would have been better suited there. It was a reaction to seeing Walter mention spreading the word.


    I have now watched the part on the pyramids from Bob Brier’s ‘Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt’, which I purchased from TheGreatCourses.com. What is laid out there is that the pyramids were constructed as tombs for pharaohs, which also represents the mainstream view on this subject matter.

    After having watched Brier’s lectures, I now am convinced that the mainstream version on the construction of the pyramids is wrong. I would even like to go as far and label Brier’s version as laughable. A few points to illustrate this conclusion of mine;

    – Brier talking about pharaohs is quite similar to Göbbels (propaganda minister for the Nazis) talking about Hitler. According to Brier, the good things that have been achieved in ancient Egypt were allegedly thanks to the oppressive, totalitarian rule of the pharaohs. Key innovations like irrigation systems emerged, according to Brier, due to the central-planning authority of the pharaohs. This is like saying that today we have to be thankful to Al Gore for the internet. Brier also implicitly glorifies oppression and brutal killings by pharaohs throughout several sections of the DVDs (especially when covering Narmer’s unification). Brier’s lectures have nothing to do with analytical thinking or with research. What it is, is full blown collectivist, fascist propaganda. This needs to be said very clearly upfront.

    – Brier gives no reason for why pharaohs chose pyramids as tombs. He simply says that Djoser (allegedly the first pharaoh to build pyramids) ‘had the idea’ to build a pyramid.

    – Brier does not clarify why no mummies or remnants of bodies have ever been found in pyramids. As mentioned in a previous post of mine, the argument about tomb raiders doesn’t hold up.

    – Brier does not clarify how Ancient Egyptians cut, transport and set 30 stones per hour (most of them weighing several tons, some of them 40 tons and more) in a 20 year period, totaling 2.3 million stones with a total error of a quarter of an inch. That is how far the apex of the pyramid is off center. I am not sure if we could reproduce this act with today’s technology (the physicist Nassim Haramein doesn’t think so, for example), not to talk about ancient Egyptians with copper tools, wooden logs and ropes.

    – Brier doesn’t even talk about the construction of the big Pyramids of Giza at all. He merely gives some inconsistent explanations for smaller pyramids; and even these raise more questions than he claims to address.

    – Brier doesn’t address why there are no hieroglyphs in the pyramids at all. It can’t be for divine reasons, since he stresses that pyramids did not serve any divine purposes to the Egyptians. He also doesn’t clarify why no Egyptian hieroglyphs ever talk about the Egyptians having built the pyramids.

    – Most importantly: Brier says that pyramids have been constructed by means of force and coercion from the pharaohs. It wasn’t something that the people would have done on their own. If the ancient Egyptians really constructed the pyramids, we also know that it would have cut out a very significant portion of their GDP for decades. Some say that more than hundred thousand people had to be employed for years, even decades to get these things constructed. That is a very big part of GDP for an ancient people living in the desert. We also know that, if the ancient Egyptians really constructed the pyramids, it must have been a feature of brilliance, of genius. And not just one genius. You would have needed geniuses all over the place, such as in the fields of: mathematics, astronomy, planning, logistics, cutting stones, transportation, management, lifting stones, engineering, construction etc. Anywhere you look, you would have required pure genius in order to come up with the Pyramids of Giza. How is it possible to create and assure a level of specialization and genius over a period of multiple decades for something that is a big drain on overall GDP and for something that is based on pure coercion and force? It is like the North Koreans today coming up with the most impressive buildings and sky-lines, to which New York or Hong Kong or Singapore would pale in contrast. This is not possible, because genius at that level cannot be created and sustained under a system of coercion. It doesn’t make a difference if the coercion comes from a ruler (a pharaoh) or from a perceived god. Not only can you not expect North Koreans to come up with a such a feat, the same applies to ‘mystic’ people, like the Iranians or the Indians. Similarly, Brier’s explanation that the Great Pyramids of Giza were solicited and brought about by a system of coercion is utterly illogical, and in my personal view even nonsensical. These levels of genius and specialization could have only be brought about by the ancient Egyptians (if they did it) under a system completely based on individualism, free market enterprise and freedom. But there was no such system in ancient Egypt. As such the ancient Egyptians could not have produced the pyramids. Somebody else did.

    – There are even further grave inconsistencies in Brier’s version, ie the mainstream version.

    It has still been useful for me to watch Brier’s lectures (although intellectually they are quite poor, due to the mentioned fact that they have nothing to do with reason and everything to do with crude totalitarian propaganda), because now I can fully and confidently dismiss the mainstream version on the Egyptian pyramids.

    This doesn’t mean that I take Nassim Haramein’s version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcwOsz6W2jc, minute 3 onwards) at face value, but parts of what he is saying are at least logical and even probable to my thinking.

    Finally I want to point out that this realization is quite significant me. Being able to now confidently dismiss the mainstream version on the pyramids has profound consequences on my understanding of humanity and its history.

    One possible (but by no means final) explanations is that Western civilization did not start 5000 years ago in Sumer and Egypt, but that there were highly civilized societies around much earlier than that already. These civilizations might have had (at least partially) superior technology than what we have today.

    Jason Jewell

    Walter, you are correct in saying that Brier is no libertarian. I remember watching the lectures a few years ago and thinking that he seemed to be, in Ralph Raico’s phrase, a Court Historian. Nevertheless, to say that his lectures have “nothing to do with analytical thinking or research” is incorrect.

    Bear in mind that Brier is focusing on the pharaohs themselves and not attempting to rebut theories like Haramein’s. Where I think you will find more information that will help you in this search is in the bibliography that came in the course manual. I do not recall specifically, but I would not be surprised if you find several works in there focusing on the pyramids.

    Your post seems to indicate that you do take many of Haramein’s ideas (and data) at face value. Have you verified his claim that Egyptologists think the Great Pyramid was built in 20 years and that they would have had to lay a stone every two minutes, for example, or that modern technology can’t construct them, or that specialists in the areas you cite couldn’t have existed in ancient Egypt? Are all the documents and inscriptions related to pyramid building from Egypt forgeries? Have you looked for a physicist with an alternative point of view to Haramein’s?

    Let me know what other relevant things you come across as you continue your own research. It’s a very interesting study.


    Thanks a lot for your reply Dr Jewell.

    When I wrote that his lecture has “nothing to do with analytical thinking or research” I have, indeed, overreacted. Brier, however, is explicitly glorifying totalitarianism several times throughout the DVDs. I don’t like that and I don’t think it is sound. If anything, it indicates to me that he is lacking important economic basics.

    The questions you raise are very interesting as well. I cannot prove my potential explanation about the pyramids towards the end of my post (neither can Brier or any ‘Court Historian’ prove theirs, I dare to say). I also cannot prove my dismissal of Brier’s explanations. I have to say, however, that it is not really my prime motivation to do so (though I surely would like to be able to). My assumption is that there are experts in this field who might at some day be able to do so.

    My prime motivation, however, is to make conclusions for myself based on what I have seen so far. Some of these conclusions are firm (such as my dismissal of much of Brier’s propaganda, including his opinions on the pyramids), some are less firm and in fact pure speculation (such as what was the real story behind the pyramids). This is only my personal conclusion today that I am making for myself (I am not asking or expecting anyone to share this).

    My personal conclusion doesn’t change if the pyramids were built in 100 years or if pyramids, in fact, could be built by modern technology today. It is also possible that such specialists from different fields were theoretically available back than. However – and this is one of my core arguments – I think it is impossible to have been able to get these specialists to produce something of that significance, something of that perfection and brilliance, with that amount of sophistication and complexity in coordination under a system of coercion and force. Brier would like to believe it and uses it as yet another plug to advocate totalitarianism. Genius, however, doesn’t produce under force. Ayn Rand was very clear about that and (in my personal view) she was right about that.

    I would also like to point out that I am still finding the DVDs valuable in the evolution of my personal understanding, as being able to exclude certain views helps me sharpen my understanding (and whenever Brier isn’t busy plugging totalitarianism, he is actually telling quite interesting stories). As such I am still happy that I bought the DVDs.

    I couldn’t agree more that this is a very interesting field of study. Because if Brier and his fellow ‘Court Historians’ are wrong, then it would have wide implications to say the least.

    If I make further significant learnings, I will share them here. Please also do so yourself.

    Thanks 🙂


    Ah, one more sidenote (for now) to: “Are all the documents and inscriptions related to pyramid building from Egypt forgeries?”

    Due to the fact that there are still speculations to this day (even among the mainstream) about the very specifics of the building of the pyramids, I conclude that we have no conclusive and extensive documentation from those ancient Egyptians who supposedly built the pyramids. There might have been ancient Egyptians or later historians (such as Herodot) speculating and theorizing about it, but I can safely conclude that there is no conclusive documentation left showing how the ancient Egyptians actually built the pyramids. So no forgeries needed, because in my view none exist to begin with. If there are, however, inscriptions, showing and explaining for example how they cut out a 40 ton rock with copper tools, moved it across the dessert and then lifted it ~100 feet, I’d be very interested in it.


    Just updating to share some further findings.

    – Brier and others claim that the great pyramids were raided by tomb-raiders during the mid kingdom; yet in the early 19th century people apparantly had to use dynamite to get into the pyramid at all. I am not saying it is impossible to combine these two claims/observation into a meaningful explanation, but it is difficult. I haven’t found a good one myself yet – if anyone has, please share.

    – It seems established in the mainstream that apart from graffiti from workers there are no inscriptions or markings of any kind inside or outside the pyramids. This would go against the practice of ancient Egyptians, who seemed to usually narrate the life of the pharaoh in his/her tomb in form of hieroglyphs (even going back all the way to Narmer). Regarding the graffiti I am quoting an opinion expressed on http://hallofthegods.org/articles/who-built-great-pyramid.html: “The most solid piece of evidence supporting the premise that the Great Pyramid, and by inference the other Giza monuments, originated in the 4th dynasty is the ‘workmen’s graffiti’. This graffiti was discovered by an English adventurer, Colonel Howard Vyse in 1837. It was found inside sealed chambers (the ‘relieving chambers’ above the King’s Chamber) and contained references to Khufu. Thus, on this basis, it was concluded that Khufu had indeed built the pyramid. The authenticity of the workmen’s graffiti in the Great Pyramid is questionable. Alsford and many other authors claim that the graffiti could have been faked. It was known at the time that Colonel Vyse had expended many years and a great deal of money on expeditions to Egypt, but had failed to unearth anything of major significance until his ‘amazing’ discovery in the Great Pyramid. The Graffiti could have easily been fabricated by copying inscriptions which had already been discovered on other structures and in the quarries nearby. Interestingly, the graffiti was only found in the chambers broken into by the Colonel. The so called Davidson chamber, lying below the other chambers and discovered by an earlier explorer, had no such graffiti. Indeed the rest of the pyramid is strangely devoid of markings of any kind. In the absence of any attempt to radiocarbon date the ‘red ochre’ paint which was used to daub the graffiti onto the massive granite blocks in the relieving chambers, debate as to the authenticity of the graffiti will continue.”

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