Ancient Manuscript Handbook – WIF Into History

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Unique and Enigmatic

Ancient Manuscripts

Ancient manuscripts, written in some old and forgotten languages, can offer truly insightful glimpses into the distant past. Many such tomes were written hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, and their grammar can still pose a serious impediment to scholars today in understanding them completely. While some are still a complete mystery, others offered just enough to make them even more intriguing. In any case, books and scripts written long ago were rare, if not unique, even during their time, let alone today. Here are ten such enigmatic and one of a kind manuscripts that survived to the 21st century.

 10. The Gospel of Judas

In 325 AD, the First Council of Nicaea took place, convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. Though it wasn’t actually the first such council, here, most of the discrepancies of the Christian faith were put in place in an attempt to attain consensus over various interpretations of the faith. As a result, it was more or less common knowledge that Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, betrayed him to the Roman authorities in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. However, a leather-bound papyrus document surfaced during the 1970s near Beni Mazar, Egypt. Written in Coptic, the document was later dated to sometime around 280 AD. What the text revealed seemingly turned the entire series of events taking place in the New Testament on its head. This document, though not written by Judas himself, but rather by Gnostic Christians, was called The Gospel of Judas.

As it turns out, Judas wasn’t the traitor the Bible made him out to be, but rather Jesus’ most trusted apostle. The text reveals how Jesus told Judas to turn him in to the authorities in order for his soul to reach God. Judas’ reward here wasn’t silver, but his ascension to heaven and exaltation above the other disciples. However, not all scholars agree with this interpretation. Historian April D. DeComick believes the Coptic word “daimon” to mean demon, and not spirit, as it was previously assumed. If this is the case, which is most likely, then Judas was considered to be a specific demon called the Thirteenth, or the king of demons, and that Jesus wasn’t killed in the name of God, but rather for the demons themselves.

Due to the religious importance of the Gospel, its authenticity was put in question. While the papyrus itself was dated to the 3 rd century AD, the ink used posed more questions. There were some inconsistencies regarding the ink used in that time period of the 200s, but later research unveiled the fact that it is actually legitimate.

9. The Grolier Codex

Named after the location of its first public appearance (the Grolier Club in New York), the Grolier Codex is an 800-year-old manuscript belonging to the Maya of the pre-Colombian Yucatan Peninsula. Discovered by looters in a cave in Mexico during the 1960s, the codex was hidden alongside a Maya mosaic mask and some other treasures. A wealthy Mexican collector by the name of Josué Sáenz was then flown to an undisclosed location at the request of the looters, and the exchange was made in 1966. In 1971, Sáenz displayed it at the Grolier Club, after which he donated it to the Mexican government. Due to its rather shady means of discovery and acquisition, the manuscript was under heavy scrutiny and was initially believed to be a fake. Other factors about the document seemed to point in the same direction. However, Yale professor Michael Coe, together with other researchers from Brown University, subjected the 10-page-long manuscript to a series of various tests, ultimately proving it to be genuine.

Radiocarbon dating placed the document somewhere around 1250 AD, during the late Maya period, about the same time when the city of Chichen Itza was being built. The date refers to the papyrus itself, and not when the document was actually written. No evidence of modern pigments was discovered, including those able to produce the famous “Maya blue.” The codex, as it turns out, is a 104-year-long calendar predicting the movements of Venus. Alongside Mayan symbols, there are a lot of Toltec-influenced styles, not that uncommon during those times. The Toltec were regarded as ancestors by the Aztec civilization and many of their elements appear in Maya art as well. Its pages are adorned with“workaday gods, deities who must be invoked for the simplest of life’s needs: sun, death, K’awiil—a lordly patron and personified lightning—even as they carry out the demands of the ‘star’ we call Venus,” said Stephen Houston, Brown University social scientist.

8. The Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power

Sometime during the late 1970s or very early ’80s, an antiques dealer came across a 20-page-long ancient manuscript, which he then sold to the Macquarie University in Australia in 1981. Nobody knows were the document was found exactly, or when, but the scholars who later studied it say it was written sometime around 700 AD, by someone in pre-Islamic Upper Egypt. For decades scientists tried in vain to decipher it, but no one was successful until recently. Written in Coptic, the codex “starts with a lengthy series of invocations that culminate with drawings and words of power,” said Malcolm Choat and Iain Gardner, professors at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney.

Egypt was populated mostly by Christians at the time, and thus there are a number of invocations referring to Jesus. However, most of the spells and summons within the book seem to indicate the Sethians. One invocation calls “Seth, Seth, the living Christ.” The Sethians were a group of Christians which flourished in Egypt during the early centuries of Christendom, but by the 7thcentury they were declared as heretics and were slowly disappearing. They held Seth, Adam and Eve’s third son, in high regard. The manuscript also makes mention of a “Baktiotha,” an unknown but divine figure, ruler of the material realm, and of ambivalent allegiance.

Who actually used it is still a matter of debate among scholars, but it might not have necessarily been a monk or a priest. And even though the text was written with a male user in mind, it doesn’t exclude a female user either. Whatever the case, the codex gave “helpful advice” in the form of incantations or spells in curing various curses, possessions or ailments, as well as bringing success in love and business. There is even a spell on how to subjugate someone by saying a magical spell over two nails and then “drive them into his doorpost, one on the right side (and) one on the left.”

7. Liber Linteus

Following Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt at the turn of the 18th century, a sharp increase in the country took place in Europe in a phenomenon known as Egyptomania. As a result, the following decades saw an influx of Egyptian artifacts all over the continent. In 1848, a Croatian official under the Hungarian Royal Chancellery decided to resign his post and travel to Egypt. While there, he purchased a sarcophagus containing a female mummy. When he returned to Vienna, he displayed it in his home for 11 years, up until he died. His brother, a priest, inherited it and gave it away to the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb in 1867. And even though the mummy was on display since it arrived in Europe, with the wrappings displayed separately in a glass case, it was only here at the museum that the German Egyptologist, Heinrich Brugsch, realized that there was actually writing on it.

Believing them to be Egyptian hieroglyphs, Brugsch didn’t investigate any further. A decade later, while talking with a friend and explorer, Richard Burton, he realized that the script was of unknown origin and not Egyptian after all. Fourteen years later, in 1891, while back in Vienna, the writings on the wrappings were identified as being Etruscan. The Etruscans were the precursors of the Romans on the Italian Peninsula. The text was then known as the Liber Linteus (Latin for ‘Linen Book’).

Even to this day, Etruscan is not fully understood, as there are very few pieces of the ancient language in existence. But based on what already existed, Jacob Krall – an expert on Coptic language – was able to deduce that

the Liber Linteus was a sort of religious calendar. The question, then, was what Etruscan text was doing in Egypt? Krall was also able to deduce from a piece of papyrus scroll inside the sarcophagus that the mummy’s name was Nesi-hensu, the wife of a Theban ‘divine tailor’ named Paher-hensu, an Egyptian. The best explanation is that the text was transported from Italy to Egypt sometime in the 3rd century BC, and was the only linen available when the woman was embalmed. As a result, the Liber Linteus is an “accident” of history, but one of the most important texts when it comes to the Etruscan language.

6. The Sultan’s Book of Delights

One interesting and totally unique manuscript comes to us from India. The Ni’matnama Manuscript of the Sultans of Mandu, as it is also known, dates back to around 1500 AD. Unlike any other medieval Indo-Muslim manuscript of its time, which often tackle subjects like politics, war, social history or political organization, the Sultan’s Book of Delights centers itself on domestic arts and the personal likes of the eccentric Sultan Ghiyath Shahi of the Malwa Sultanate in Central India. It is one of the earliest books written in Urdu, with its first miniature illustrations being made under a Persian influence with the later ones becoming more Indian-ised.

Ghiyath Shahi ascended to the throne in 1469, but once his son, Nasir Shah, became of age in 1500 AD, he decided to step down and focus his attention on the pleasures of life. He then filled his palace with musicians, painters, cooks, and thousands of women. Many of these women were taught in the fine arts of wrestling and cooking, among others. Five hundred female Abyssinian slaves, clad in armor and skilled in combat, became his permanent bodyguards. During this time, the capital city of Mandu became known as Shadiyabad, or City of Joy.

The manuscript was also written during this period, and it consists of several hundred recipes for food, perfumes, salves and pastes, medicines, and all sorts of aphrodisiacs. What combinations work together, and what others should be avoided. These are accompanied by 50 illustrations depicting their preparation. The paintings also show Ghiyath Shahi himself, easily recognized by his moustache, either supervising or enjoying various activities such as hunting, fishing, or eating. These works were collected together into the manuscript by his son, Nasir Shah.

5. Gospel of the Lots of Mary

This is a 1,500-year-old book, in possession of Harvard University since 1984, which received it from Beatrice Kelekian, Charles Dikran Kelekian’s widow. Charles was a trader of Coptic antiquities, deemed the “dean of antiquities” among New York art dealers. Where he got this book is still a mystery. An interesting fact about this book is its small size, at just 3 inches in height and 2.7 inches in width. Its size made it easy to transport and to be hidden if need be. Written in Coptic, the book was, up until recently, undecipherable. And now that it’s been translated, the text came as a surprise to many scholars.

In the opening it reads: “The Gospel of the lots of Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, she to whom Gabriel the Archangel brought the good news. He who will go forward with his whole heart will obtain what he seeks. Only do not be of two minds. ”Even though it calls itself “a gospel,” this manuscript is not one in the sense of what we normally know the word to mean. Usually a gospel is a narrative about the life and death of Jesus, but this book hardly makes any mention of him. This is because the word “gospel” literally translates to “good news.”

In fact, this little booklet is a collection of 37 oracles, written vaguely, and which were probably used as a form of divination. The user would ask himself a question about the future, and then open the book at random to look for an answer. For example, oracle 24 reads: “Stop being of two minds, o human, whether this thing will happen or not. Yes, it will happen! Be brave and do not be of two minds. Because it will remain with you a long time and you will receive joy and happiness. ”Given its purpose, its small size starts to make sense, especially when many church leaders at the time were against divination and put strict rules in place to ban the practice. Regardless, the booklet was heavily used with thumbprints still being clearly visible on its margins.

4. The Sibiu Manuscript

In 1961, a professor of Science and Technology at the University of Bucharest came across an old manuscript in the national archive in Sibiu, Romania. The 450-page-long document was dated to sometime before 1570 and it described various subjects of artillery and ballistics from the 16th century. Doru Todericiu, the previously mentioned professor, began studying it in more depth, focusing on its scientific and technological content. On closer inspection he realized that in the third part of the manuscript, a man by the name of Conrad Haas was describing in remarkable detail the basics and function of a “flying javelin,” a modern multistage rocket. He describes and depicts rockets with two and three stages, as well as how to build the rocket, stabilizing fins, and the use of liquid fuel.

Not much is known about this Conrad Haas. He was born in Dornbach (now part of Hernals, Vienna). He held the post of arsenal master in the Imperial Austrian Army and in 1551 he came to the Principality of Transylvania to become a weapons engineer in Sibiu (then Hermannstadt). Here he wrote the manuscript. Todericiu says that Haas also built and tested the rockets by using soli fuels. The document is now located in the Sibiu Museum in Romania, and is the first documented proof of rocketry in the world. This style of multistage rockets was later used by astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. In the last paragraph on the military use of rockets, Haas wrote: “But my advice is for more peace and no war, leaving the rifles calmly in storage, so the bullet is not fired, the gunpowder is not burned or wet, so the prince keeps his money, the arsenal master his life; that is the advice Conrad Haas gives.”

3. The Eight-Foot Long Leather Manuscript

For about 70 years, one of the most unique and, without a doubt, the largest manuscript disappeared from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In 2015 they rediscovered it, cramped in an old, dusty drawer somewhere in the back of the museum. Like other entries in this list, the exact location of its discovery is unknown. It was bought from a local antiques dealer by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology in Cairo sometime after WWI and it was first unrolled just before WWII. It dates back to sometime around 2000 to 2300 BC, from the Late Kingdom to the early Middle Kingdom. It stands at 8.2 feet long, and is adorned with writing and beautifully colored drawings of exceptional quality.

Made out of leather, it is a real miracle the huge manuscript was able to withstand the rigors of time over more than 4,000 years. Leather was considered a very precious writing material, and only holy texts or great historic events were written on it. Papyrus was more common, and it better endured the test of time, especially in the scorching heat of the Egyptian desert. In any case, this particular manuscript is written on both sides and contains depictions of divine and supernatural beings, predating the famous Book of the Dead. Religious spells, formulated in the first person singular, make up the text. These were most likely recited by a priest, and even though it was portable, the scroll was most likely kept in a temple.

2. The Codex Washingtonianus

Located at the Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art, the Codex Washingtonianus consists of four gospels of the so-called Western order (Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark), and is the third oldest Bible in the world. It dates back to about the 4th or 5th century AD, during the time when Christianity began to turn from an underground cult to a standardized religion. The Codex was most likely copied from several other manuscripts found at the time. Its covers are made out of wood and the pages are of parchment (processed animal skin). Its pages are highly sensitive to light and humidity, and thus, the codex is rarely put on display.

What makes it so unique, besides being 1,500-years-old, is the fact that it holds an extra passage in the Gospel of Mark, not found in any other Biblical text anywhere. It reads: “And Christ replied to them, ‘The term of years of Satan’s power has been fulfilled, but other terrible things draw near.’” What this single line seems to imply is that Satan, and not God, is the one in charge. When it was first translated and made public in 1912, it caused much controversy and distress around the world. Today, people’s perspectives have somewhat shifted, but back then this passage shook a lot of people. Since this passage, known as “the Freer Logion,” makes no appearance anywhere else in the world, it was probably an oral saying that made its way into the gospels, according to Michael Holmes, a biblical scholar at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1. The Copper Scroll

Between 1946 and 1956, some 981 different texts and scrolls were discovered in eleven caves in the eastern Judaean Desert of what is now the modern-day West Bank. This collection is what’s known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unlike the other scrolls found in these caves by local shepherds, the Copper Scroll was found by archaeologists in 1952 at the end of one of these caves. It was also the only one made from copper, while the others are in either parchment or papyrus. Made out of two rolled sheets of corded copper, it was impossible for scientists to unfold the scroll by any usual means. So, they instead decided to cut it in 23 thin strips, and then place them back together.

The text, although in Hebrew like the others, uses a different dialect. And while all of the others are religious in nature, like copies of Hebrew Scripture, uncanonized Hebrew texts and sectarian manuscripts, the Copper Scroll is a “treasure map.” In it there are actual directions to various hidden treasures of gold, silver, coins, and vessels. For example, column two, verses 1-3 say: “In the salt pit that is under the steps: forty-one talents of silver. In the cave of the old washer’s chamber, on the third terrace: sixty-five ingots of gold.” Summing them all up, researchers estimated the value of all of them at $1,000,000 in 1960. In today’s money that would be slightly over $8 million.

To date, however, nobody has been able to recover any of these treasures; or at least they say they haven’t. Nobody knows who wrote it, or to whom the treasure belonged. Some say the treasure never actually existed and that the Copper Scroll is a work of fiction. Others believe it refers to the Temple of Jerusalem, just before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and the scroll was made to safeguard its riches. Others go even further, believing the treasure to belong to a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. However, all of these are mere speculations, and whether the treasure exists or not is yet to be determined. But if it did exist, there’s always the possibility that it was already found in ancient times and nobody reported it.

Ancient Manuscript Handbook

WIF Into History

Getting Sphinx-y W/You – WIF Like an Egyptian

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Mysteries of Egypt’s

Great Sphinx

of Giza

When the soldiers of Rome first encountered the Sphinx they gazed upon an ancient structure which was already older than the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire are today. Staring with mouths no doubt agape in wonder, they likely formulated questions which for over two millennia have remained largely unanswered. What was it? Who built it? Why? The great head which appeared before them (the body of the Sphinx was buried in the desert sands, unseen for hundreds of years before and after the Romans visited) may have retained the colors applied by its builders, adding to the mystery which stood before them. Or they may have already been scoured away by the sands of the desert and of time.

Since its rediscovery the Sphinx has added to its mysteries, with every proposed answer and theory leading to others, yet more secretive. It has left impressions upon its visitors throughout time. Napoleon gazed upon it in awe. Archaeologists, explorers, historians, and tourists have attempted to understand and explain its purpose, its meaning to those who built it and to those who followed. Yet it remains among the most mysterious artifacts of the ancient world. Why it was built, how it was built, what it represented, and what it continues to represent remain matters of speculation, mysteries unsolved, further enshrouded by the passage of time. Here are some of the mysteries of the Sphinx, the eternal lion of the Egyptian desert, silent guardian of the Pyramids.

10. Who built it?

The short answer, and one which has changed frequently over the centuries, is nobody knows. At least not to a certainty. Theories have abounded, with differing views presented based on science, religion, and even the study of extraterrestrials. It has been called a device representing astronomical configurations. It has been called a tribute to the dead. The bulk of the evidence regarding its origin is circumstantial, and its construction has been described to support other theories regarding ancient Egypt, each of questionable accuracy on their own. Some believe the statue to predate the nearby pyramids, others posit that it was added later. Today, the consensus is that the face of the statue represents the pharaoh Khafre, though some maintain that earlier known images of Khafre bear little likeness to the face on the statue.

Khafre is regarded as the builder of the second pyramid at Giza, and the theory that he built, or rather had built, the Sphinx is supported by those who believe that a statue in his likeness was included in the Sphinx Temple, part of the overall complex which was built as a funerary. Other Egyptologists of past years disputed Khafre’s contribution to the construction, claiming it to predate his reign by centuries. Accurately dating the construction is difficult, as there are no references to the statue, at least not by name, in any contemporaneous documentation yet discovered. A causeway near the statue, generally believed to have been built during Khafre’s reign, is believed by some to have been designed with the existing statue in mind, rather than as a part of the construction of the statue itself. Who built the Sphinx remains one of its riddles, to date unanswered, and to many unanswerable given the existing evidence.

9. What is the Sphinx?

Whoever built what is now known as the Sphinx aside, it is also unknown by what name the statue was called by its creator or creators. No inscriptions have yet been discovered which describe the statue, refer to it by name, or describe the purpose for which it was intended. The great statue was not referred to as the Sphinx until over 2,000 years after it was built, if the most widely accepted date of construction is used as a point of reference. The term itself is borrowed from the Greek, referring to a mythological being with the body of a lion, wings of eagles, and the head of a woman. Other Egyptian “sphinxes” which have been discovered bear the head of a man, the body of a lion, and lack wings. Even the name Sphinx comes from Greek, meaning (loosely) to squeeze. The term refers to the beast squeezing to death those unfortunates who failed to solve the riddle she presented.

Nearly all known inscriptions connected to the statue refer to it as the “Terrifying One.” It has been linked to the sun-god Ra, as well as the god appearing in the form of a jackal, Anubis. Anubis was the god of the Necropolis, the city of the dead. Over 1,000 years after the generally accepted date of its construction it was excavated and restored for the first time, or rather attempts at such restoration were made. The pharaoh Thutmose IV directed the excavation of the statue (which had been buried in the desert sand over the preceding 1,000 years, only its head showing above ground), though his attempt managed to expose only the front paws. To mark the event, Thutmose had a granite slab placed between the paws. Thutmose inscribed the slab, known as the Dream Stele, on which he linked the statue, already approximately 1,200 years old, with Ra.

8. How was the Sphinx built?

The Sphinx, contrary to common belief, is not a construction but a carving. It was hewn out of the rock of a quarry which also provided the limestone blocks for the construction of the nearby pyramids and the temples and causeways which surround them. The rock appeared in layers, with each layer presenting differing qualities regarding resistance to erosion and the ravages of time. How it was carved is, like all else about the statue, a subject of debate. It may have been hewn by hammer and chisel, shaped with saws, or blasted with water. Water, routed through leather hoses, pressurized by decreasing the diameter of the vessels transporting it, and used to wear away the rock might have been used. But if water was used, what was its source? There are those who believe, as much because they have to believe it to support their theory as for any other reason, that the valley, now arid desert, was once fertile and well-watered.

The theory is given some support through the belief, not fully accepted by the scientific community, much of the erosion which has damaged the statue is the result of rainwater, rather than desert sands driven by the winds. The theory that extensive rainfall damaged the statue furthers the argument that it predates the time of Khafre, during whose reign the region was arid, much as it is today. Nonetheless, by the time of the reign of Thutmose IV the Sphinx was buried up to the neck in the sands of the desert, as has been seen. Climatologists believe that the last period of heavy and persistent rainfall in the region occurred over 4000 years BCE, and the level of erosion, if the theory is accepted, indicates that the statue was built as early as 6000 BCE. The dates alone lead Egyptologists to consider the theory to be a fringe idea, lacking credence and scientific evidence, especially since it conflicts with theories of their own.

7. How was the Sphinx used in Ancient Egypt?

Over time, according to the experts, the significance and use of the Sphinx changed. In ancient Egypt, the lion was symbolic of the sun, and thus it is believed that the statue was used for solar worship more than 2,500 years before Christ. One thousand years later the statue was connected to the worship of the god Harmachis, another god of the sun. The Sphinx was at least one thousand years old when a temple to the god Harmachis was built nearby by the Pharaoh Amenhotep II. Yet the massive statue meant different things to different beholders. The Canaanites, a polytheistic people of many tribes often referred to in the Old Testament of the Hebrews and modern day Christians believed the Sphinx to refer to the god Horon, one of two gods who held sway as lords of the netherworld.

Despite the beliefs of the Canaanites, covered in detail in the Old Testament which describes the many conflicts between them and the monotheistic Israelites, the massive statue is not referred to or otherwise described in the biblical narratives. How it could be overlooked, when it was a focal point of so many of the ancient tribes and cultures, is one of its enduring mysteries (particularly given the large number of Israelites held as slaves by the Egyptians, according to the narrative in Exodus). The Book of Jeremiah does refer to what it calls “…signs and wonders in the land of Egypt,” but a more specific description is lacking. If Moses, or his brother Aaron, or any of the Israelites saw the Sphinx, they evidently did not find it worthy of comment in the books of the Old Testament.

6. Why was the Sphinx vandalized in ancient times?

A fairly well-known feature of the Sphinx is that the massive head is lacking a nose.Instead there is an irregular and roughly textured area of the face where the nose once was displayed. For many centuries it was assumed that the facial feature had fallen to the ravages of the desert and time. In other words, it simply fell off the face. The same fate was assumed to have befallen the beard which once adorned the chin of the statue. A myth developed in the nineteenth century that a cannonball fired by Napoleon’s troops during the Battle of the Pyramids destroyed the nose. In fact, subsequent archaeological research revealed that the nose was deliberately removed, using either lengthy rods or other instruments designed for the purpose, sometime prior to the tenth century of the common era. The unanswered question regarding the act? Why?

One theory is that Islamic peasants prayed to the Sphinx, offering it sacrifices, in the belief that the gods would intervene to ensure a better harvest, a sacrilege which Sufi Muslim leaders could not abide. The statue was thus desecrated to discourage the practice. Other sphinxes throughout the region were similarly defaced during the 13th and 14th century, for similar reasons. The desecration of the statue was also rumored to be the source of retribution, including the Crusade of Alexander in 1365. The status of the beard reputed to once have been a feature of the statue is disputed, with some scholars believing the beard was an original part of the carving. Others believe that it was a later addition, though all are in agreement that the beard is no longer a part of the face, with portions of the stone which formed it recovered from the sands between the beast’s paws.

5. Is the human portion of the statue a man or a woman?

The presence of a beard adorning the chin of the massive head of the statue would lead an observer to assume it depicts the head of a man. But beginning in the 1500s CE, and continuing well into the nineteenth century, visitors regularly described the statue as depicting a woman’s head and upper body melded with the body of a lion. The description of the statue as being that of a woman was reflected in both written form and in sketches and paintings by western artists. The Sphinx was described as having the breasts and neck of a woman, as well as a woman’s face. Traces of coloration which remain around the statue’s eyes and the lower face suggested that the statue at one time presented a garishly multi-colored visage, as that of a woman wearing heavy makeup.

George Sandys, an English poet, translator of the ancient classics, and extensive traveler who chronicled his journeys, described the Sphinx as a harlot. A noted contemporary, German writer Johannes Helferich, described the Sphinx as a “round-breasted woman.” Prior to the French Revolution, the overwhelming majority of images of the statue available in Europe depicted the Sphinx as decidedly feminine in appearance. Only after the French invasion of Egypt led by revolutionary general Napoleon Bonaparte were images of the Sphinx which were more interested in accuracy than romanticism widely available in Europe. Interestingly it was not until 1755 that European drawings of the statue presented the absent nose.

4. Who are the Anunnaki and did they build the Sphinx?

The Anunnaki were the temple gods of the Ancient Sumerians, a trading people who recorded their activities in cuneiforms, and gave to history among other things the twenty-four hour period known as one day, divided into periods of sixty minutes each. An agricultural society, they also left behind a method of preserving grain for consumption in liquid form, a beverage we know today as beer. According to a believer in ancient visitors from alien realms, Zecharia Sitchin, the Anunnaki built the Sphinx, as well as the pyramids, centered in Giza as a port for other visitors. Sitchin’s theories have been dismissed as both pseudoscience and pseudohistory, but his works have sold millions of copies around the world to followers of his beliefs.

Though it is easy to dismiss Sitchin’s work, it is not easy to deny the influence he has over those who believe in extraterrestrial visitations in the ancient world. The seeming impossibility of explaining much of the mystery which surrounds the Sphinx and the ancient peoples who saw it in the background every day, just as modern people see cell towers and giant aircraft soaring overhead, leads some to seek otherworldly explanations. Sitchin’s numerous books and interviews have inspired motion pictures, video games, religious fringe groups, and various clubs and groups who believe that there is no mystery at all to the Sphinx, it is simply evidence of alien visitation, created by the gods of the ancient Sumerians.

3. How has the Sphinx survived for so many thousands of years?

It is no secret that the part of the Sphinx which has had the most difficulty weathering the passage of time is the head and upper torso. There is a simple explanation for that seeming mystery. For most of its existence the majority of the statue has been buried beneath the sands of the desert which filled the quarry in which it was carved. Before it was submerged, evidence of erosion was present (remember the postulation that water was eroding the statue), and the carving was protected by covering the damaged areas with limestone and sandstone blocks, carved for the purpose, as a sort of laminate.

During an excavation in 2010, a wall was discovered surrounding much of the statue, built of mudbrick, which ran for more than 400 feet around the Sphinx. It was determined it was intended to act as a windbreak, erected around the same time that Thutmose installed the Dream Stele between the paws. Most of the statue was still buried in the sand at the time. Not until the 20th century, in a project which began in 1925 and took 11 years to complete, was the entire statue exposed to view, and thus also to the elements. The face on the other hand was exposed continuously throughout the millennia since its completion, as well as being the subject of vandalism, or at the very least religious censorship, since it was first completed at a time still unknown.

2. Is the Sphinx linked to the constellation known as Orion, the Hunter?

According to some theorists (Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock, et al) the Great Pyramids of Giza are aligned in the same manner as the stars which create the “belt” of the constellation Orion, and when considered along with the Sphinx and the nearby Nile River present a model of the relationship of Orion and its position with the Milky Way. According to their calculations, the positions of the stars, if established in relationship to the pyramids and the Sphinx, are depicted as they were 10,500 years ago. That would mean that the Sphinx is part of a model displaying the astronomical positions at that time, and is thus 10,500 years old. To those subscribing to the theory, Giza is a map, presumably for the use of visitors from beyond the stars.

They are undaunted by the fact that no artifacts of any kind supporting such an early appearance of the Sphinx, the Pyramids, or any other man-made structure of the kind have ever been found in the region. They are equally undaunted by the fact that their method of establishing the date has been proven to be inaccurate. While it is possible that the belt of the constellation could have been used as a guide for the layout of the Pyramids (the Sphinx is also laid out in a manner which annually measures the sun’s attitude during the solstices), that in and of itself does not necessarily indicate a link to interstellar visitation. Alien influence in the construction of the Sphinx also does not take into account one important fact about the statue. After surviving thousands of years, through earthquakes, floods, world wars, the rise and fall of empires, and all of the vagaries of human existence, the statue is rapidly crumbling into dust.

1. Can the Sphinx survive the 21st century?

Modern man is destroying the Sphinx. The greatest single culprit is the air pollution emanating from the city of Cairo, as well as high winds and humidity, both of which are increasing and for both of which climate change is a contributing factor. Since 1950 – almost three-quarters of a century – organized efforts to save the statue have been underway. They are failing. Concrete used to reinforce the statue was found to be incompatible with the original stone, and did more damage than good. Chemical injections to help the stone resist the effects of modern pollution failed to do so. Additional limestone blocks were added to reinforce the stone, but they were unable to prevent further erosion of the original structure.

By the 1980s portions of the left shoulder were crumbling, falling to the ground in pieces, and attempts to reattach them, or replace them with modern substitutes, also failed. The structure is crumbling so badly, and its decay accelerating so quickly, that further exploration of the Sphinx has been for the most part set aside in order to concentrate on saving what is left before it is too late. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities is responsible for protecting and hopefully saving the massive structure, the oldest extant relic of the ancient world, as well as the largest. With them lies the answer to the greatest of all the mysteries of the Sphinx; can a marvel created by ancient man survive the foibles and shortsightedness of their modern successor? As with all of the mysteries of the Sphinx, the answer remains unknown.

Getting Sphinx-y W/You –

WIF Like an Egyptian

The NULL Solution = Episode 78

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The NULL Solution = Episode 78

…The Eridanians were raiding the pyramids right after they were built and no one knew…

Father & Son are discussing the current state of affairs.

“I’m in favor in going out and searching for Cerella. She should show up on our long-range sensors.”

“And in a few short {million} cycles or so you may find her Dad.”

“Then I vote for taking Defender back to Earth. Without Cerella, why should we stay out on a world where we don’t fit in?”

“It is you who does not fit in! The rest of us have adjusted nicely… even Deimostra is light-years ahead of you.”

 “If you ask me, it’s a lot more dangerous here. Have you ever seen any Selljunk or Yud anywhere near Earth?”

“It’s Seljuk and Ÿ€Ð and how would we know? Personally, I don’t think we’ve been paying close enough attention to know whether they’ve been by this way or not. The Eridanians were raiding the pyramids right after they were built and no one knew.

“Without NEWFOUNDLANDER, we would not have even passed Mars’ orbit yet. There were supposed to be 1000 colonists at Mars City right now.”

Sam cannot help but long for what might have been.

“Maybe there are now. We don’t know because we are so worried about messing with history. Right now I would trade this foggy dump for a deep-space shuttle ride back to Earth.”

“You wouldn’t settle for anything but TSF, would ya, come on tell the truth?”

“If we didn’t know Eridanus from Uranus, I wouldn’t care.”

“But it is too late not to care! Without the NEWFOUNDLANDER, you & Mom only had a tinker’s chance of being rescued by the Mayflower.”

New Mayflower. I almost forgot about ol’ Rick Stanley… good astronaut that boy.”

“Yes. Did I mention that he was the backup pilot for the SOL project? He would have died because the Eridanians would have had no rooting interest in its success or failure. The only… and I mean only reason we are together as a family is because of Ekcello.”

It’s all water-over-the-dam.

Daniel-Johnson Dam in Quebec, Canada

The NULL Solution =

Episode 78

page 81

Desert Oddities – WIF Geography

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Strange Things


in the Desert

Deserts are nature’s perfect hiding places for strange things. The climate can be so hostile to traverse that few people will risk dying after a few hours exposure in the hopes of finding something worthwhile. The lack of even basic of life forms, like bacteria in some deserts, mean that bizarre and mysterious objects can be preserved much longer and more often than normal.

 The extreme environment is also good for creating all sorts of novel flora and fauna. For unsavory types, the desert is perfect for doing nefarious deeds, where they imagine there wouldn’t be prying eyes to worry about. So let’s search the sands, seeking something strange.

10. Chinese Desert Patterns

In 2011, Google Earth users found objects in Gobi Desert areas of China’s Xinjiang and Gansu provinces that made the supposedly paranormal crop circles look downright quaint. While a few large buildings were quickly identified, the more intriguing and seemingly haphazardly designed collections of white lines carved into the ground defied any immediate explanation and came off as especially suspicious for having been made in remote areas. These were not small objects, either.

The Guardian reported that some stretched out for as much as roughly half a mile to 1.15 miles.

The answer turned out to be a little ingenious but relatively benign. They’re used by the Chinese government to orient their spy satellites and calibrate their lenses. Knowing the relative distances and angles for different portions of the pattern allows the satellite operators to know if they’re reading certain distances properly or how well the focus is working. These, it should be noted, are not secret satellites, and it’s not a practice that’s unique to China, either. There’s one in Casa Grande, Arizona that serves the same purpose and which dates back to the 1960s.

9. Ancient Egyptian Burial Boat

For ancient Egyptians, it was fairly common practice to include a vehicle of some kind in the tomb. The famous tomb of King Tut had six chariots in it. Others favored putting boats in theirs, and this was hardly restricted to the elites. Even the peasant class would put cheap but affordable reed boats in their graves with them. But one that was discovered in the Saharan desert after 4,500 years in the sands of the Abusir Necropolis was quite baffling.

This vessel, unearthed in 2016, was sixty feet in length, only about six feet shorter than a warship of the time. It was made of especially high-quality wood, hence it still being relatively intact when it was excavated. What was odd was that it wasn’t buried in the grave of a noble, or a general, or anyone like that. Instead, the person entombed with it was a commoner. How could a peasant have afforded such a boat? How could the family have possibly afforded to pay to have the equivalent of a destroyer buried with him, or even have it transported inland? The answer for people curious about the true nature of the past is frustratingly lost to the sand swirls history.

8. Desert Graveyard for Sea Mammals

Speaking of graveyards, the mystery boat is hardly alone in terms of finding surprising burial sites in the sands. In the Atacama Desert in Chile, there’s a hill called Cerro Ballena (“Whale Hill”) forty meters above sea level that, during roadwork in 2010, was found to contain fossils of forty whales along with a collection of other marine mammals such as dolphins and seals, not to mention some fish related to swordfish. It initially seemed like an amazing case of mass fossilization: How could dozens of animals of various species have all died at once, and in so many cases have been preserved?

The most accepted explanation is that the numerous mammals and fish were deposited over time, and that the hill in question happened to be a place where the bodies were washed up, only to have nature preserved them for six to nine million years. The rather worrying suspect of the deaths that left them to washed up on land was a spontaneous algae infection. True or not, it certainly left an unusual resting place for quite a menagerie.

7. Sudden Tunisian Desert Lake

Desert Oddities

– WIF Geography

Walking Like an Egyptian – WABAC Into History

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Horrifying Facts


Ancient Egypt

"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“To the land of Pharaohs and mummies Sherman My Boy.”

Ancient Egypt is one of the most fascinating places in the historical record. Their obsession with life after death, their grand pyramids and golden treasures, and the multitudes of evidence they left behind of their great works have captured the imaginations of people for thousands of years. However, underneath the veneer of mysticism and historical grandeur, Ancient Egypt was not always the most fun place in the world to live. Their justice system was often unfair and cruel, some of their medical practices were horrifying, and their devotion to the gods often went to insane lengths.


 10. An Outbreak Of Cholera Was Once Linked To Food Wrapping Paper Made From Mummy Bandages

There was a time when anything involving Ancient Egypt was considered a fad. Mummies were imported to Europe to be unwrapped at parties, and many, many mummies were illegally smuggled out of Ancient Egypt. The truth is, there were a lot of mummies around and no one really felt much respect for them – even at the time, very little proper historical significance was attributed to them.

For this reason getting hold of mummy bandages was not only cheap, but in some cases cheaper than paper. An enterprising businessman in the early 1900s in the United States decided that he could save some money making wrapping paper for food, and imported in some old brown mummy paper to do the trick. Unfortunately for him, his plan failed when people started catching cholera, and the use of mummy paper to wrap food was abandoned.

9. Servants Were Sometimes Put To Death To Be Buried Alongside Their Masters

Those who were sacrificed this way would not necessarily feel that they were being murdered, though. The Ancient Egyptians had a complicated relationship with death, and were obsessed with carrying on with life after death. In a way, they were far more obsessed with life than they were with death. Those servants who were sent to die and be buried with their masters were considered privileged to be allowed to follow a powerful figure into the afterlife to serve them. However, it was still likely nerve wracking to know that your fate was tied to the random death of a person you work for.

8. Mummy Used To Commonly Be Eaten As A Medicine In Europe

To most people cannibalism is literally the most awful taboo imaginable. The idea of eating human flesh, even in circumstances where you have no other choice, is something that immediately turns the stomach of most humans. Even when talking about incidents like the Donner party, where people would have been pushed to the limit, and likely only ate those who were already dead, people still speak of it in hushed tones, terrified at the very prospect of being faced with such a horrible decision.

However, back in the 1600s and 1700s in Europe, a craze swept around where people were crushing up bits of human of various kinds and eating it in order to attempt to cure themselves of various ailments. It started out with people crushing up mummyand putting it in a tincture, claiming it could cure all kinds of different things, but ended up with people drinking blood to cure blood related illnesses, and even bits of crushed skull to deal with problems of the brain. While most today consider cannibalism obscene, there was a time in Europe when consuming the remains of other people was considered perfectly normal and good for your health as well.

7. If You Disrespected The Sun God They Would Immolate Your Entire Being

In Ancient Egypt violent crime was fairly rare, but one of the most awful crimes you could commit was any form of offense or disrespect toward the Sun God. If you vandalized or robbed a temple, committed any form of personal disrespect, or were otherwise found guilty of any offense related to the Sun God, you were usually sentenced to be burned alive. This punishment was only reserved for the greatest of offenses and was usually accompanied by a ritual that sacrificed the individual to the gods. While the Ancient Egyptians rarely practiced actual human sacrifices, this is one of the few exceptions.

While burning alive is painful enough to begin with, it was considered the most horrific death of all by Ancient Egyptians because of the ritual significance of the act. They believed strongly in preserving the physical body for life after death, and believed that destroying the person’s physical body completely by burning would leave them with no vessel in the afterlife. While the gods could still technically intervene to help this person, it was about as terrifying a punishment as a believer in Ancient Egyptian society could imagine.

6. It Was Extremely Common For Ancient Egyptian Police To Beat Confessions Out Of People

In Ancient Egypt, they had a well put together system of laws and a group that essentially acted as police, but that doesn’t mean things were really all that fair. Just like in older European societies, forcing confessions out of people was incredibly common; in fact it was basically standard practice. Usually, to elicit confessions people would be beaten with sticks, often on the bottom of the feet – a torture known as bastinado.

 Those who were tortured into confessing were expected to not only admit to what they did, but explain where anything they stole might still be hiding and rat out every single one of their accomplices. These people could then also be beaten to ascertain any further accomplices as well. Unfortunately, like many imperfect legal systems, it will never be possible to quantify just how many innocent people may have been punished for a crime because they were forced into confessing something they didn’t do. Sadly, false confessions under torture are an incredibly common phenomenon, because people will do almost anything to make torture end when it is painful enough.

5. If You Violated The Law, You Were Considered Guilty Until Proven Innocent

One of the cornerstones of the modern legal system is the presumption of innocence – innocent until proven guilty. It is one of the reasons many people have long touted the Western legal systems, where at the very least, you will receive a fair and somewhat speedy trial, where you know that the system isn’t already presuming guilt before you have had a chance to defend yourself. And while Ancient Egypt had a fairly advanced legal system, in this area they were particularly lacking.

In their legal system, the guilt of the accused was presumed from the very beginning, and it was the job of the accused to prove their innocence. While judges would always do their best to not play favorites, beatings were common to prove guilt – as we mentioned earlier – and were more likely to be applied to the accused party, even though they could have been innocent. Even witnesses could be beaten if necessary if the judges felt it was needed to get more information about the case. While there is no evidence that Ancient Egyptians abused this system regularly by falsely accusing each other, it seems the system would almost benefit those who would abuse it more than it would the innocent.

4. Sometimes If You Were Accused Of A Crime, Your Guilt Would Be Decided By The Magic Of Oracles

In the later days of Ancient Egypt, the priesthood started to gain an increasing control on the daily lives of Egyptians and of the decisions made by the rulers of the land. The priests’ influence and power over the common people increased continually over the years, and before long they were being consulted for far more than they ever had been before. Those in power knew better than to question the priests too much, as they were considered to be able to contact and gain the support of the gods, and also would be able to potentially influence large amounts of people to do their bidding.

This meant that in the latter days of Ancient Egypt, the priesthood now found itself involved in matters of court. They would bring in a statue of the Sun God and set papyri before it with different options for important decisions – in court they were generally two papers deciding innocence or guilt. The statue was supposed to turn toward the correct paper, showing the will of the gods. Of course this gave the priests a chance to manipulate the statues movements and essentially decided court cases based on their own opinions and whims. Unfortunately, this meant that many Ancient Egyptians were at the whim of a con artist while in court; one who everyone believed, but who likely knew full well that he was making up all of the stuff about the gods’ will.

3. Using Birth Control Was An Incredibly Disgusting Horror Show

Today people will use condoms, take pills, or try to predict monthly cycles in order to avoid pregnancies when they are not ready for procreation at that moment. And as many people know, birth control has existed for many thousands of years. Researchers have found evidence of sheepskin condoms from long ago, and the Ancient Romans are said to have used a plant for birth control so frequently that they made it go entirely extinct. However, most of these methods are fairly reasonable ways to deal with birth control, especially compared to the methods used by the Ancient Egyptians.

In Ancient Egypt, they believed that a mixture of mostly honey and crocodile dung, which was then plastered all over the vagina, was a great way to avoid getting pregnant. For some reason, they decided that this was an effective spermicide – although it actually would be more likely to increase the chance of pregnancy. While it is understandable for them to believe it could have worked as birth control considering their knowledge at the time, it is also horrifying to imagine how often they would have to come into physical contact with crocodile dung on the most intimate parts of their bodies.

2. The Death Penalty In Ancient Egypt Was Rare, But Extremely Brutal When Enacted

Life in Ancient Egypt could be quite harsh and beatings were, as we’ve mentioned a few times now, both a common method of extracting confessions and also a common punishment. However, while many people know that Ancient Egypt could be fairly strict in terms of punishing miscreants, like much of the Ancient world they were also very much against wantonly dishing out the death penalty.

While the option existed under the law, it was very, very seldom used. In fact, there was even a time period of roughly 150 years where no official state sanctioned executions for crimes were carried out in the empire of Ancient Egypt. However, when someone had done something bad enough, such as murder, or treason, the death sentence they were punished with was often quite brutal. While we mentioned earlier that burning alive was a punishment of choice for serious offenses to the gods, there were other forms of capital punishment they also employed that were similarly painful and awful, such as decapitation, drowning, and even impalement on a stake.

1. The Legends Of Ancient Egyptian Curses Simply Will Not Go Away

Countless legends and stories have been told about the idea of a mummies curse and the concept goes farther back than many think. Even before the opening of King Tut’s tomb, stories were already cropping up about mummies taking revenge when their remains were disturbed. However, the most popular legend claims that 26 people were involved in opening the tomb, and then they all started to die under mysterious circumstances – with the expedition leader himself succumbing very quickly to blood poisoning.

Searches of the tomb have revealed mold spores but nothing that is deemed particularly dangerous – not strong enough to damage you just by being in the room for a bit, certainly. Some have theorized that perhaps there was a strange disease involved that showed up as blood poisoning, but most scientists dismiss this, pointing out that the whole thing is silly anyway, since only six of the 26 people involved had anything involving a recent death after the event. However, while there may be no logical evidence that curses exist, it doesn’t mean that the Ancient Egyptians didn’t try. Many tombs have various symbols around them, cursing those who disturb their remains in the hopes they will be attacked by vicious animals such as lions or snakes, or even punished by the gods themselves.

Walking Like an Egyptian

WABAC Machine2-001

– WABAC Into History

Ancient Egypt Handbook – WIF Into History

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WIF Handbook-001

Unusual Facts About

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt has long been a fascinating subject not only to historians, but to average people all over the world. They had many mystical practices that have long kept us intrigued. From their unique burial practices to their awe inspiring pyramids, they have left us with a feeling of mystery and wonder. Architects, Egyptologists, and experts on many different subjects consider the Ancient Egyptians a fascinating subject of study and have long hoped to one day discover all of their secrets. However, while there are many mysteries yet about the Ancient Egyptians, there are also many fascinating things we have already discovered in regards to them that most people are not aware of.


10. Ancient Egyptians Kept Baboons and Other Monkeys as Pets and for Ritual Significance


Most people are well aware that Ancient Egyptians did put some historical significance in certain animals — namely cats. Cats are known to be the number one go-to pet for Egyptians. Some are said to have been buried with their owners to accompany them in the afterlife. And while cats were very valued and had a certain religious and ritual significance, they were not the only animal in that category.

While it may not sound quite as dignified, monkeys, especially baboons, were kept around for their ritual significance in magic and religion — which were basically one and the same — and just to enjoy as fun pets. They had to go to great trouble to get their hands on these baboons because they were not native to the area. Historians believe they would have had to be imported by ship. Nevertheless, they became so important that they show up in a lot of religious imagery associated with the gods and found themselves a permanently revered place in Ancient Egyptian history.

 9. They Went to Great Lengths to Remove Body Hair, and Both Genders Often Wore Wigs


In many depictions of Ancient Egyptians they are shown with very little hair on their heads, but many people may not realize the full extent of the work they went to in removing body hair. Children of both genders would wear a small lock on the side of their head that would be cut off when they reached adulthood. Apart from this, both men and women were bald.

Not only that, but both men and women went to great trouble to remove all body hair constantly from all parts of their body. This was a normal part of hygiene in Ancient Egyptian society, but would have been quite extreme to people today. Of course for women and men fashion was still very important, so wigs were quite common, especially among the upper class.

There are many theories as to why they did this. Most historians figure it was either something to do with the heat of the area, and that the Ancient Egyptians hypothesized that removing all hair would keep them cooler. Some people think that it was simply because they were incredibly obsessed with cleanliness. Most of these theories are quite reasonable, but ancient alien theorists believe they were trying to look like their former reptilian overlords the Anunnaki.

8. The Book of the Dead Was Not Originally a Unified Text

book of the dead

 The Book of the Dead has been featured in countless movies, books and other media at this point, which hasn’t really done much to help people understand what it actually was. Most people think of it as something like the Egyptian version of the Bible or the Koran, but that isn’t really accurate — at least not originally. The Book of the Dead was in the beginning much more like the Wiccan idea of a “Book of Shadows” — a journal you filled with your combined knowledge of all spells you had learned from others, read from other books and found important, your own created spells and wisdom you yourself came up with over time.

For a long time in Ancient Egypt, Books of the Dead were still very personal, they were rarely organized in any particular order, and there was no unifying structure on what should and shouldn’t be included. It wasn’t until the 26th dynasty that any kind of real organization or order was put in place, and even then historians have still not been able to make proper sense of it.

Egyptologists have managed to collate together 192 different spells from books of the dead, but not a single one contains every spell, meaning that there is, as far as they know, not one single unified text anywhere to accept as the official, correct one.

7. The Racial Identity of Ancient Egyptians is Extremely Controversial


No matter where you live in the world, there are likely controversial race issues around you. These issues have existed as far back as humans have recorded history, and have often led to bloody wars and massacres. While racial tensions still cause violence around the world, we are at a low point historically, and now many people are taking the battle for race to academia, where heated arguments are had over whether revered historical groups or people belong to a certain race.

 Everyone respects and admires the Ancient Egyptians, so it likely comes as no surprise to many that groups with an agenda will go to great lengths to attempt to define Ancient Egyptians as whatever race helps them make a convenient political point. After a recent DNA test of King Tut’s mummy, some people claimed it was evidence that he was of Western European origin, and others said the results were entirely flawed and rushed.

In the past people have also claimed the Ancient Egyptians were of Nordic stock, and many have speculated and tried to claim with great passion that they were black africans similar to many today. Historians, on the other hand, believe that they were a fairly racially diverse society that looked similar to many artistic depictions of them. Obviously they would have had somewhat darkened skin from the sun, but were not none for being an entirely homogenous group.

6. There Were Way More Pyramids Than People Realize


Whenever we hear about the pyramids, we hear about the great Pyramids at GizaEgypt. These pyramids have been visited by countless tourists, have been excavated and explored and suffered damage over the years — they have quite a story to tell. People have speculated endlessly on how they were built, and if it may have even been alien visitors from another planet. These theorists will go to great lengths to make these particular pyramids and the exact positioning of them on the sand to be incredibly significant. Many of these theorists are convinced that the pyramids are also not burial chambers at all.

However, the pyramids were almost certainly burial chambers, and if the theorists realized how many pyramids were built, they may realize how little sense the theories make. The Ancient Egyptians built, at least as far as Egyptologists are currently aware of, somewhere getting close to the neighborhood of 100 pyramids, none of them as large as the ones at Giza but they are all quite sizeable. Huge pyramidal chambers could only be afforded by the richest Egyptian citizens in the ancient days, but they were built for many Egyptians, and were hardly a strange occurrence at all.

The truth is that there are many theories on how the various pyramids could have been built, and many of them are possible solutions. We just don’t know exactly how they did it. They also could have used somewhat primitive, but effective, building techniques that we simply have not thought of ourselves.

5. Some of the Richer Citizens in Ancient Egypt Were Incredibly Fat

fat egyptian

 In the United States and much of the developed world today, obesity has become a very serious health issue. Many people are simply not getting enough exercise and not eating the right foods — or simply overeating in general, and it is causing them serious issues. Apart from the simple strain on the body of excess weight, the massive amounts of sugar intake can cause people to develop a type of diabetes as well.

While most people would think that the Ancient Egyptians were quite thin and muscular, like all societies, the way we look at what is preserved of history can skew our perceptions. Most of what we knew was based on builders and a few rich pharaohs, so it was hard to accurately gauge the true fitness of a person from an ancient society. However, recently remains were found of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, showing that she had been incredibly obese and likely also had diabetes due to her extreme overeating.

While it’s hard to say because surviving mummies are rare these days, if one rich citizen such as a pharaoh could be fat both socially and in terms of resources, it is quite likely that plenty of other richer, more privileged Ancient Egyptian citizens were also fat as well.

4. So-Called “Mummy Parties” Have Caused Much of History to be Lost Forever

mummy party

Many people today bemoan how children or young people will be out distracted running around with a phone trying to catch a virtual animal that they can use to virtually battle people, but the hobbies of the young people of yesteryear would have had them much more horrified. As we have mentioned, many people have long been fascinated with Ancient Egypt, but this got really strange in the early 1900s when Egypt fever was at a pitch in Europe.

 It started slowly, and like many fads quickly grew out of control. People would bring back mummies as souvenirs from travels to Egypt, all to happy to take advantage of the lax laws of the time, and then have parties where they unwrapped the mummy in their home with all their friends around. This obviously permanently damaged precious pieces of history that could have yielded scientists with incredible information in the future with proper DNA analysis.

Some people may just say “it was a different time,” but it is hard to imagine any time period where it would be normal and acceptable to invite your pals over for a fun afternoon of unrolling a several thousand year old dead body. Regardless, it is almost impossible to estimate just how much damage this wanton and careless destruction of Egyptian culture — in the name of enthusiasm — has cost us in terms of our knowledge of them.

3. Ancient Pharaohs Were Sometimes as Crazy as Roman Emperors


Whenever someone wants to think of an example of tyrants who ruled with a combination of insanity and delusional grandiosity, they tend to immediately name someone like Emperor Nero or Caligula. If they can’t think of a specific name, they just generically compare them to the Roman Emperors. They were known for eating absolutely ludicrous feasts, making all kinds of bizarre personal demands and generally abusing their power and position to an insane degree. However, while the Roman Emperors may have been crazy, the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt came before them, and they were often just as strange or even stranger.

 The Pharaoh Hatshepsut, despite being female, was also known for usually wearing men’s clothes as well as a mock up of a male’s beard, in order to look like a male pharaoh. Some historians also believe she may have wore black and red nail polish, kind of like some teenagers today. While she presented herself as a man to receive proper respect as a ruler, and seemed to enjoy mens clothes, there is also no evidence she was anything but straight.

However, even Hatshepsut pales in comparison to Pepi II when it comes to crazy. Pharaoh Pepi II became Pharaoh at a very young age, and as such it may not be surprising that the power quickly went to his head, and he began abusing it greatly. He personally hated flies, and so to ensure that they would never land on him, he came up with an ingenious and cruel idea to keep them off his body. He kept several slaves nearby at all times, covered in honey, so the flies would bother them instead of him. It seems to have never occurred to him that he could have just as easily spread the honey on inanimate objects instead of people.

2. Not Everyone in Ancient Egypt was Elaborately Mummified


When many people think of Ancient Egypt they mostly just assume that the society mummified everyone — and that this was just their idea of a burial. However, while the elite certainly wanted the most elaborate process available, with the most pomp and circumstance, many people did not have the means for very much. In today’s world, loved ones of the deceased who aren’t particularly rich often have to go with more budget options instead of the elaborate ones they prefer, even going so far as to use cremation in some causes simply because it is much less expensive.

In Ancient Egypt, they had a similar situation, where while everyone would have loved to have an elaborate ceremony, many of the poorer or less well to do citizens would have to make do with less complete, or more hasty forms of mummification that wouldn’t preserve the body as long or as effectively. These ceremonies would probably involve some prayers and other spells, and would sometimes be a simple burial in the sand. Only those with some means could afford to bury their dead in what was essentially a mausoleum — something very few can afford today.

In many cases, the reason we mostly think of Ancient Egyptians being preserved are because the ones we have to study are the ones that managed to stick around to be studied. We know from inference that apart from the many mummies destroyed by unwrapping parties, that there had to be many that were simply never mummified fully, or buried in any marked grave or structure, and decayed thousands of years ago, lost forever to the sands of time.

 1. Punishments for Breaking the Law Could be Extremely Harsh


In the Ancient world, punishment could often be harsh, but in Ancient Egypt, it was probably still far harsher in many cases than most people would imagine. Today, punishments mostly consist of being sent to a prison where the state sometimes has you do labor, but rarely if ever makes any real money from it. In the ancient world, labor was considered much more important and resources were very valuable. Those who needed to be punished were either killed outright or were given their due and sent right back to work to continue producing for the collective.

In Ancient Egypt, the crime for stealing in one text is described as “100 blows and five wounds” and some studies carried out on skeletons found in Amarna, an Ancient Egyptian city, have given researchers reason to believe this may have been a real punishment. They have found skeletons with gashes on the shoulder blade area, and believe the men were not attacked, but were likely being punished and were then sent right back to work.

 However, while punishments for stealing could be quite harsh, those for crimes of a sexual nature could be much harsher. Women were often treated more strictly, and if a woman was caught cheating she literally had her nose cut off to spite her face, while a man simply had to take a severe beating of 100 blows. Of course, while this may seem like a double standard, the penalty for a man raping a woman was also very strict — if a man were judged to have raped a freeborn woman, he would be castrated. Like some ancient cultures, many punishments also included the removal of limbs, and execution for serious offenses like grave robbing.

Ancient Egypt Handbook

WIF History-001

– WIF Into History