But even when human agency behind the pyramids is acknowledged, the credit for them is disputed. The most famous alternative theory is that Israelite slaves built these colossal structures. The late Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, stirred up a furore in Egypt when he claimed, prior to arriving for the first official visit by an Israeli leader to Cairo, that his ancestors built the pyramids.Actually, Josephus came up with the idea long before Smyth. And unfortunately it still turns up in Egypt.
Of course, no archaeologist takes this theory seriously, since the pyramids were already pretty ancient when the Israelites are presumed to have been in Egypt and it is now generally accepted that slaves did not work on the project.
There is also no biblical evidence that the Israelites worked on the pyramids. Baruch Brandel, the director of the Israel antiquities authority library, notes that: "The Torah only mentions that the Israelites built Pithom and Ramses during the new kingdom period."
So, where does this legend come from? Scotland, actually. Charles Piazzi Smyth believed that the mysterious Hyksos – who may have invaded, or simply migrated, to Egypt nearly a millennium after the pyramids were built – were the Hebrew people, and that they built the Great Pyramid.
Some Jews began to subscribe to this far-fetched theory to draw pride amid discrimination, just as the 19th century Afrocentric movement in the US extended the period of Kushite (modern-day Nubian) rule for two centuries during the third intermediate period to all of Egyptian history in order to claim that ancient Egypt was "black African".
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
SCOTLAND is to blame for the notion that the Israelites built the Pyramids?