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Dear Readers:  Some ancient Egypt news to share with you today, via Discovery News -

Oldest Known Depiction of Pharaoh Found

The oldest known representation of a pharaoh has been found carved on rocks at a desert site in southern Egypt, according to new research into long forgotten engravings….

Indeed, the style of the carvings suggests that the images were made at a late Dynasty date, around 3200-3100 B.C. This would have been the reign of Narmer, the first king to unify northern and southern Egypt, thus regarded by many scholars as Egypt’s founding pharaoh.Dating back more than 5,000 years, the rock drawings appear to feature the earliest known depiction of a pharaoh, according to Gatto and colleagues.

“There are depictions of local rulers since the first half of the fourth millennium B.C., but Hamdulab seems by date to be the earliest datable representation of a king wearing one of the recognizable crowns of the ruler of all Egypt, engaged in a labeled royal ritual,” John Darnell, professor of Egyptology at Yale University, told Discovery News.

…The researchers investigated a total of seven carvings, which feature scenes depicting hunting, warfare, and nautical festival events.

The most extensive rock art picture, nearly 10 feet wide, shows five boats, one of which carries an anonymous king holding a long sceptre and wearing the White Crown, a conical shaped headpiece that symbolized rulership of southern Egypt.

The king is followed by a fan-bearer and preceded by a dog and two standard-bearers. A falcon standard appears below the king, while three of the boats boast a standard with bull horns.

“Both the falcon and the bull are royal symbols, emphasizing the royal character of the boats,” the researchers wrote.

At the bottom of the tableau, another boat features a decorated vaulted cabin, which according to the researchers represents a shrine. The vessel is then transformed into a “divine boat,” placing the tableaux in a religious context.

This sparked a wonderful question from a very good friend from the Military History Page on Facebook:

I am curious what you think about the theories of von Deniken, Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, Robert Schoch, Michael Cremo etc regarding the pyramids and the Egyptian civilization. Could the Sphinx have been built by the Atlanteans in 10.000 BC? Do you support the mainstream archaeology-history? Or do you believe that there are some unexplained mysteries and that pyramids could have been built around 10.000 BC? And also if you believe that there are pyramides in China and Bosnia. I know, all these questions are too much “Ancient Aliens” ones, however I believe the theory of a Lost civilization (check Graham Hancock works). I wish such discussion could be made in the Military History group, to read other opinions but it is not so…military topic.

That’s a lot to chew on, especially as I like to keep my posts under 1000 words. So, I am going to provide a general answer, then offer an Egypt-specific case to prove my premise.

ANSWER: I AM A HUGE SKEPTIC OF ANY “ALTERNATIVE HISTORY” THEORY.

If a history involves either aliens or time travel, I consider it entertainment and not science.

My opinion on history discussions is that unless there is video record, photograph, or solid written account (backed up with supporting evidence and some carbon-14 dating) that it is hard to prove any assertion 100% definitively. So, I am game for considering someone else’s take on an event. And, I really detest those who deride other reasonable theories that seem to logical explain a set of evidence.

Furthermore, I think humans have been creative, intelligent, and great at problem-solving since the beginning of the species. And just because we can’t figure our how, why, or with what they did something doesn’t mean we need to invoke aliens or time travel. As an example, I offer the tale of Ishi, a California Indian from the Yahi tribe who went and identified very practical uses for a wide array of artifacts mis-identified by educated archeologists as “religious objects”.

Let’s take a look at the pyramids. No Atlantean built them, as clearly attested by the “Tombs of the Pyramid Buliders” that were uncovered in 1990.

Titles such as” overseer of the side of the pyramid,”” director of the draftsmen,” “overseer of masonry,” “director of workers,” and “inspector of the craftsmen” are another indication that those buried in the upper part of the cemetery were of higher status than the people buried below. Perhaps the most important title we found was the “director for the king’s work.” I believe some of these are the tombs of the artisans who designed and decorated the Giza pyramid complexes and the administrators who oversaw their construction. We need, however, to analyze the names, pottery, and decoration of the tombs further to be sure they date to the time when the Giza pyramids were being built

The whole complex was essentially “Camp Pyramid”, where families quartered and organized themselves to feed, clothe, house, medically treat, and otherwise commune effectively. The sole purpose of that community was to build an eternal resting place of the pharaoh. Furthermore, despite some challenges with radiocarbon dating, the dates obtained in testing correspond well with traditional assignment of pyramid building at Giza (2589 and 2504 B.C.)

Additional proof of the ingenuity of humans is that  there is a clear and demonstrable evolution of pyramid building. It goes something like this:

1) King Djoser – Dynasty 3 – Step Pyramid/2648 BC
2) King Sneferu – Dynasty 4 – The Collapsed Pyramid at Meidum (first attempt at true pyramid = fail)
3) King Sneferu – The Bent Pyramid(second attempt at true pyramid = fail)
4) King Sneferu – The Red Pyramid (third attempt at true pyramid = success)
5) King Khufu-  Dynasty 4 (Snefru’s son) Great Pyramid – 2540 BC – icon of Egypt (success)

In fact, Khufu’s son Djedfre, may have built an ever more grand pyramid, which was slowly deconstructed in ancient times!

My favorite Egyptologist, Bob Brier, discusses the evolution in a wonderful episode of “The Great Egyptians”.

Additionally, “experimental archeologists” have started to figure out how Egyptians could of built the structures with only the tools we know they had:

Bob Brier has a great book that features photographic evidence of the corkscrew approach the ancient Egyptian engineers likely used: The Secret of the Great Pyramid: How One Man’s Obsession Led to the Solution of Ancient Egypt’s Greatest Mystery

And, yes, I believe we can find pyramids elsewhere, too.  Not because of ancient aliens, though.  It is because it is the most structurally stable shape for large scale projects.  Clever men of any race or nation would have figured that out, without the intersession of extra-terrestials.

The next topic for my learned discussion: The Piri Reis Map
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