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Why Did Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs Stop Building Pyramids?

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Why Did Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs Stop Building Pyramids?

By

Owen Jarus

For more than a millennia, Egyptian pharaohs had pyramids constructed and often were buried beneath or within the massive monuments.

Egyptian pharaohs constructed pyramids between the time of King Djoser (reign 2630 to 2611 B.C.), who built a step pyramid at Saqqara, to the time of King Ahmose I (reign 1550 to 1525 B.C.), who built the last known royal pyramid in Egypt at Abydos.

These iconic pyramids displayed the pharaohs’ power, wealth and promoted their religious beliefs. So why did the ancient Egyptians stop building pyramids shortly after the New Kingdom began?

In ancient Egypt, pyramid construction appeared to wane after the reign of Ahmose, with pharaohs instead being buried in the Valley of the Kings near the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes, which is now modern-day Luxor. The Theban Mapping Project notes on their website that the earliest confirmed royal tomb in the valley was built by Thutmose I (reign 1504 to 1492 B.C.). His predecessor Amenhotep I (reign 1525 to 1504 B.C.) may also have had his tomb built in the Valley of the Kings, although this is a matter of debate among Egyptologists.

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It’s not entirely clear why pharaohs stopped building royal pyramids, but security concerns could have been a factor.

“There are plenty of theories, but since pyramids were inevitably plundered, hiding the royal burials away in a distant valley, carved into the rock and presumably with plenty of necropolis guards, surely played a role,” Peter Der Manuelian, an Egyptology professor at Harvard University, told Live Science in an email.

“Even before they gave up on pyramids for kings, they had stopped placing the burial chamber under the pyramid. The last king’s pyramid — that of Ahmose I, at Abydos — had its burial chamber over 0.5 km [1,640 feet] away, behind it, deeper in the desert,” Aidan Dodson, an Egyptology professor at the University of Bristol, told Live Science in an email.

One historical record that may hold important clues was written by a man named “Ineni,” who was in charge of building the tomb of Thutmose I in the Valley of the Kings. Ineni wrote that “I supervised the excavation of the cliff tomb of his majesty alone — no one seeing, no one hearing.” This record “obviously suggests that secrecy was a major consideration,” Ann Macy Roth, a clinical professor of art history and Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, told Live Science in an email.

The natural topography of the Valley of the Kings could explain why it emerged as a favored location for royal tombs. It has a peak now known as el-Qurn (sometimes spelled Gurn), which looks a bit like a pyramid. The peak “closely resembles a pyramid, [so] in a way all royal tombs built in the valley were placed beneath a pyramid,” Miroslav Bárta, an Egyptologist who is vice rector of Charles University in the Czech Republic, told Live Science in an email.

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For Egyptian pharaohs the pyramid was important as it was a place “of ascension and transformation” to the afterlife, wrote Mark Lehner, director and president of Ancient Egypt Research Associates, in his book “The Complete Pyramids: Solving the Ancient Mysteries” (Thames and Hudson, 1997).

The topography of Luxor, which became the capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom (1550 to 1070 B.C.) may also have played a role in the decline of pyramid construction. The area is “far too restricted in space, with also lots of lumps and bumps,” Dodson said. In other words, the ancient capital may have been too small and architecturally challenging to serve as the home for new pyramids.

Religious changes that emphasized building tombs underground are another possible reason the Egyptians ditched grand pyramids. “During the New Kingdom, a concept of the night journey of the king through the Netherworld became extremely popular, and this required sophisticated plans of the tombs hewn in bedrock below ground,” Bárta said. The underground tombs hewn into the Valley of the Kings fit this concept well.

While pharaohs stopped building pyramids, wealthy private individuals continued the practice. For example a 3,300 year-old tomb at Abydos, which was built for a scribe named Horemheb, had a 23-foot-high (7 meters) pyramid at its entrance, archaeologists announced in 2014.

During the first millennium B.C., pyramid building also became popular in Nubia, an area that includes what is now Sudan and parts of southern Egypt. The Nubians built pyramids for both royalty and private individuals. How many they built is not clear, Lehner noted in his book that there are about 180 royal pyramids while recent archaeological research reveals that there were many more pyramids constructed for private individuals. The rulers of Nubia continued building pyramids until around 1,700 years ago.

Originally published on Live Science.

Owen Jarus writes about archaeology and all things about humans’ past for Live Science. Owen has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism degree from Ryerson University. He enjoys reading about new research and is always looking for a new historical tale.

 

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Microsoft Acquires Game Maker Activision Blizzard For $68.7b

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Microsoft Acquires Game Maker Activision Blizzard For $68.7b

In an all-cash transaction, software company Microsoft has acquired Activision Blizzard, the video game maker behind hits like Call of Duty and Candy Crush, for $68.7 billion.

This development makes Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

“Today, Microsoft Corp. announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard Inc., a leader in game development and interactive entertainment content publisher.

“This acquisition will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse,” the software company said in a statement.

Microsoft is paying $95 a share, roughly 45 per cent above Activision’s stock price before the announcement and will continue running the company.

READ  ALSO:  In World-first Transplant, Man Gets Pig Heart

This move will see the software company inherit Activision’s staff strength of about 10,000 employees, nearly 400 million monthly gaming users and access to some of the world’s most popular games such as “Warcraft,” “Diablo,”

“Overwatch,” “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush”. In return, Activision will have access to a range of artificial intelligence and other programming software.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick will remain in his position until the deal is closed in 2023. Once the deal closes, the unit will fall under Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft gaming.

 

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BREAKING: Buhari Lifts Suspension On Twitter

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has lifted the suspension on Twitter operations in the country, effective from 12 am, January 13, 2022. This was disclosed in a press statement on Wednesday signed by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency and Chairman Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement, Kashifu Abdullahi. The statement read in part, “The Federal Government of Nigeria directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12 am tonight, January 13, 2022. “The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami.”

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has lifted the suspension on Twitter operations in the country. This takes effect from 12:00 a.m., January 13, 2022.

This was disclosed in a statement on Wednesday by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency and Chairman Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement, Kashifu Abdullahi.

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The statement read in part: “The Federal Government of Nigeria directs me to inform the public that President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved the lifting of the suspension of Twitter operation in Nigeria effective from 12 am tonight, January 13, 2022.

“The approval was given following a memo written to the President by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami.”

 

 

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In World-first Transplant, Man Gets Pig Heart

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In World-first Transplant, Man Gets Pig Heart
Dr. Bartley Griffith, left, performed the operation on David Bennett Sr. to receive a new heart from a genetically modified pig. Credit...University of Maryland School of Medicine

A United States man has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.

David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, doctors say.

The transplant was considered the last hope of saving Mr Bennett’s life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term chances of survival are.

“It was either die or do this transplant,” Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery.

“I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” he said.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett – who has terminal heart disease – would otherwise have died.

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He had been deemed ineligible for a human transplant, a decision that is often taken by doctors when the patient is in very poor health.

The pig used in the transplant had been genetically modified to knock out several genes that would have led to the organ being rejected by Mr Bennett’s body, the AFP news agency reports.

For the medical team who carried out the transplant, it marks the culmination of years of research and could change lives around the world.

Surgeon Bartley Griffith said the surgery would bring the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis”. Currently 17 people die every day in the US waiting for a transplant, with more than 100,000 reportedly on the waiting list.

Dr Christine Lau, chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was in the operating theatre during the surgery.

“He’s at more of a risk because we require more immunosuppression, slightly different than we would normally do in a human-to-human transplant. How well the patient does from now is, you know, it’s never been done before so we really don’t know,” she told the BBC.

“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it.

“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients,” she added.

The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using pig heart valves is already common.

In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person. At the time, the operation was the most advanced experiment in the field so far.

However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead with no hope of recovery.

This watershed moment provides hope of a solution to the chronic shortage of donor human organs. But there is still a long way to go to determine whether giving people animal organs is the way forward. Pig hearts are anatomically similar to human hearts but, understandably, not identical. It’s not ideal, compared to swapping in a human donor heart. But it is possible to plumb them in and get them working.

The bigger issue is organ rejection. These pigs are bred to lack genes that can cause rejection.

They are cloned with certain genes “knocked out” and reared until they reach an age where their organs are big enough to be harvested for transplantation.

It is too soon to know how Mr Bennett will fare with his pig heart. His doctors were clear that the surgery was a gamble. The risks are huge, but so are the potential gains.

Mr Bennett, however, is hoping his transplant will allow him to continue with his life. He was bedridden for six weeks leading up to the surgery, and attached to a machine which kept him alive after he was diagnosed with terminal heart disease.

“I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover,” he said last week.

On Monday, Mr Bennett was reported to be breathing on his own while being carefully monitored.
But exactly what will happen next is unclear.

Mr Griffith said they were proceeding cautiously and carefully monitoring Mr Bennett, while his son David Bennett Jr told the Associated Press that the family were “in the unknown at this point”.

But he added: “He realises the magnitude of what was done and he really realises the importance of it.”

“We’ve never done this in a human and I like to think that we, we have given him a better option than what continuing his therapy would have been,” Mr Griffith said. “But whether [he will live for] a day, week, month, year, I don’t know.”

.BBC

 

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