Did ancient Egypt (the Bronze Age, the time the pyramids were built, the mummies, etc.) take place in the time of Genesis in the Bible? I’m assuming it must have, because none of it could have taken place before Adam and Eve. The pyramids aren’t mentioned, I don’t think, in the Bible, and lately I’ve just been very interested in this time.
They aren’t really.
Well, technically speaking, Abraham - one of the first biblical personages one could attempt to pin a credible date to - is supposed to have lived somewhere during the 2100-1800 BC, just about the same time as the end of the First Intermediate Period (2181-2055 BC) and the beginning of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (ca. 2055 BC-1650 BC). The pyramids were built much earlier, during the period of the Old Kingdom (2686-2181 BC). And the Egyptians made mummies well up to the Roman period.
P.S. There was no single, universal time the ‘Bronze Age’ or the ‘Iron Age’ started or lasted, since it happened differently for different cultures. (For the record, those names denote the time when a given culture either started using bronze instead of stone, and then iron instead of bronze, tools and weapons, or the time when bronze or iron was first introduced.) Though there is a rough average: for the Middle East (Mesopotamia, the Levant, Anatolia, including Egypt) the Bronze Age lasted approximately for 3300-1200 BC. For Europe and China, on the other hand, it lasted much longer (well into the 700s-600s BC). Korea had a rather late Bronze Age (900 BC-800 BC). In Japan, there was no ‘Bronze Age’ distinct from ‘Iron Age’, since bronze and iron were introduced at the same time (300 BC-AD 300). In America, the Moche people in Peru (AD 100-700) discovered bronze independently from Europe. For most of Africa, the traditional view was that there was no continent-wide universal Bronze Age; in many areas iron succeeded immediately the use of stone.
Some of the oldest pyramids, or pyramid attempts; were by Sneferu. There are some pyramids that were/are step like pyramids. They are older than the well known ones. The “Red pyramid” is the one egyptologists call the first true pyramid. The “Bent pyramid” was by Sneferu too. Bob Brier is a well respected and knowlegeable Egyptologist.
Oh yeah. To put things in perspective:
The step pyramid in Saqqara was built for Djoser, the founder of the 3rd dynasty of the Old Kingdom (ca. 2686-2613 BC), by his vizier Imhotep. That’s the oldest Egyptian pyramid AFAIK. Sneferu (ca. 2613 BC to 2589 BC) was the founder of the 4th dynasty. Khufu (ca. 2589–2566 BC) - the guy who built the big pyramid in Giza - was Sneferu’s son and the second pharaoh of the 4th dynasty. Essentially, most 4th dynasty pharaohs - Sneferu, Khufu, Djedefre (ca. 2566-2558 BC), Khafre (ca. 2558-2532 BC), Menkaure (cf. 2532-2503 BC), and Shepseskaf (ca. 2503-2499 BC) - all built pyramids. The famous ones at Giza (from biggest to smallest) were by Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. (The Sphinx was also Khafre’s BTW.) Essentially, pyramid building was popular during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods.
The pyramids actually evolved from mastabas, flat-roofed, rectangular bench-like structures with outward sloping sides. Step pyramids were essentially mastabas stacked on top of each other. Then Sneferu had the idea of building a “true” smooth-sided pyramid.
That step pyramid reminds me of the similar ones at about the same lat. in South America. I don’t know about their history. The Maya were involved.
The main difference being that the Egyptian pyramids were tombs for pharaohs, while many of the Mesoamerican pyramids were essentially temples built on top of artificial platforms. In other words, in function they’re more like Mesopotamian ziggurats than the Egyptian pyramids.
For the record, the oldest Mesoamerican pyramid was built by the Olmec (flourished 1500-400 BC) in La Venta, Mexico (900-500 BC).
Astoundingly enough, they recently found an ancient work logbook from a crew involved in hauling big stones on boats, and bringing them to built into Khufu’s pyramid.
It’s just part of the oldest set of papyrus records ever discovered.
They also found ancient boats in an ancient boat shed.
Did they stop the pyramid building because Hatshepsut had a mortuary type place built. And there’s rumor concerning Ay as a consort. At least I’ve heard Bob Brier talk of this. Constellations were found inside one of the tomb walls. I think that would be Thutmose III quite probably. And I don’t mean all that graffetti on the walls and such.
No, it was more because by the end of the Old Kingdom authority became less centralized as the power of non-royal administrative officials grew. By the so-called First Intermediate Period (ca. 2181–2055 BC), there was little political stability since two competing power bases (one based on Heracleopolis and the other in Thebes) was essntially fighting for control of Egypt. While the Theban faction (under Mentuhotep II) managed to defeat the Heracleopolitans - starting the 400-year Middle Kingdom period in the process - Egypt did not achieve the heights of power that produced the great pyramids of the Old Kingdom. (In fact, generally speaking, the building that took place was on a much more modest scale, suggesting that Egypt was not as strong as during the Old Kingdom period.) So the pharaohs could and did not harness the resources required for construction on a massive scale. That’s why the later, Middle Kingdom pyramids were smaller and more flimsy. While central authority was restored in the New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1069 BC), by that time the pharaohs had abandoned pyramids in favor of smaller and less expensive rock-cut tombs.
Thank you, everyone, for your replies. I need to go and see those pyramids sometime! The reddish triangular ones, I think, are the prettiest. Especially against a sunset. Or on a starry night would be pretty too.
This is interesting. Just thought I’d post.
I’m so interested in things like this! I find it miraculous that so many of these things haven’t long ago disintegrated. I wonder how they are able to preserve, even the pyramids, or ruins of temples and walls in the Holy Land.
They had a great knowledge of preserving herbs for one. They also pulled the brain out through the nasal or upper mouth cavity. They know what to remove to preserve the mummies forever. So their Ka would survive forever.
Still, it’s something!
Well, for one, they’re made of stone. Not to mention that Egypt is a dry desert area (note that it wasn’t always like this; 3-4000 years ago the place was more greener), which really helped preserve some stuff that would normally rot or erode in other places. (Being buried in desert sand for a couple thousand years or three quite helped actually).
Speaking of which, the fact that some of the earlier pyramids (such as in Giza) are still standing just shows how well-built they are. Many other pyramids (especially later ones) are essentially just a heap of ruins or piles of dirt by now: either due to more flimsy materials (say, mud brick, sand, rubble) and/or poor construction, or (if they were made of stone) later generations quarried the stones out and used them for something else. (Actually, almost all the pyramids in Egypt had some of their stone pillaged for use in other buildings. Even the ones at Giza.)
Thanks for those pictures. I really love the “what it would have looked like then” picture. Interesting to see.