The Egyptologist acclaimed for re-dating the Great Sphinx at Giza sets his sights on one of the true mysteries of antiquity: the Great Pyramid of Giza.
What is the Great Pyramid of Giza? Ask that basic question of a traditional Egyptologist, and you get the basic, traditional answer: a fancy tombstone for a self-important pharaoh of the Old Kingdom. This, Egyptologists argue, is the sole finding based on the data, and the only deduction supported by science.
By implication, anyone who dissents from this point of view is unscientific and woolly-minded-a believer in magic and ghosts. Indeed, some of the unconventional ideas about the Great Pyramid do have a spectacularly fabulous ring to them. Yet from beneath the obvious terms of this controversy, a deeper, more significant question arises: how is it that the Great Pyramid exercises such a gripping hold on the human psyche- adding cryptic grace to the back of the one-dollar bill and framing myriad claims of New Age "pyramid power"?
In Pyramid Quest, Robert M. Schoch and Robert Aquinas McNally use the rigorous intellectual analysis of scientific inquiry to investigate what we know about the Great Pyramid, and develop a stunning hypothesis: This ancient monument is the strongest proof yet that civilization began thousands of years earlier than is generally thought, extending far back into a little-known time. In tracing that story, we come to understand not only the Great Pyramid but also our own origins as civilized beings.
Traditionally, scientists and other scholars have argued that Egyptians constructed the Great Pyramid in one remarkable burst of activity during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu (2551 2528 B.C.). Drawing on archeological and scientific scholarship in their third collaboration, geologist Schoch and writer McNally challenge this view and conclude that the foundation of the edifice can be traced to the earliest Egyptian empires, as far back as 7000 5000 B.C. Among their assertions are that the Great Pyramid may not have been a tomb (no mummy has ever been found inside), but served other cultic and mythological purposes, with both the external and internal areas serving different roles in different eras; between 1500 and 500 B.C., for instance, the pyramid was probably used for ritual training and initiation. Schoch devotes more than a third of the book to appendixes that provide details on such topics as the pyramid's external dimensions, its passages and chambers, and the dating of the structure. Although the book will be controversial for some, it contains such a wealth of information about ancient Egypt and the science of the construction of the pyramids that it may be the only guide to the Great Pyramid most readers will ever need. B&w illus.