Esther and I have started our own book club. We have quite a few books on ancient history, especially on parts of history that aren’t in most mainstream history books. We’ve both been wanting to read them but haven’t been getting around to it. So, last week, we started our own book club. So far, the two of us are the only members, but if you want to join you’re welcome—although I have no idea how we could include more people! We started with Unwrapping the Pharoahs, by John Ashton and David Down. Our goal is that every day Esther will spend 15 minutes (that’s where the “15” in the name of our book club comes from) reading the book and taking notes on what she finds interesting, and then I’ll read the same chapters she got through, take notes, and we’ll compare. We’ve managed to do it a few days, and gotten through seven chapters of this fascinating book!
Chapter 1 talks about the beginning of Egyptian history. Menes, the first king of the first dynasty, is identified by Josephus as being Mizraim, the grandson of Noah. Interestingly, the early kings of Egypt were buried with boats—was this in case of another Flood? Chapter 2 mentions that the earliest Egyptian burial practices were similar to those in Ur, in Mesopotamia, at the same time. Guess what! Civilization spread from Mesopotamia to Egypt!
Chapter 3 talks about some of the early pyramids. There is evidence that they were built by men excited about their work, rather than by slaves. Chapter 4 shows the three pyramids built by Seneferu. The first, Meidum, seems to have partially collapsed at some point. Whether this was during the building or some time after is unknown. His second one was the Bent Pyramid, which was started at a 52° angle. About halfway up, they switched to a 43° angle. No one knows why, but I found it very interesting that there are inscriptions indicating that possibly the lower half was built in only two years! He also built the Red Pyramid, which was at a 43° angle. Did he maybe keep going till he had a perfect pyramid?
In chapter 5, Abraham’s visit to Egypt during a famine is mentioned. Josephus tells that Abraham brought science and astronomy to Egypt from Mesopotamia. Is he the source of the incredible mathematical accuracy in the Great Pyramid? The Great Pyramid was built precisely aligned to the cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west), precisely level, and exactly square.
Chapter 6 discusses Kafre, the son of Khufu, who built the Great Pyramid. Khafre’s pyramid was steeper than his father’s, with a completely different layout. Another thing mentioned in this chapter was the methods used by “archeologists” in the 1700s and early 1800s. They were basically treasure hunters, using gunpowder to blow up anything they thought was in their way. Chapter 7 tells about the end of the 4th Dynasty, when the economy was apparently not so good anymore. Shepseskaf built a mastaba instead of a pyramid. The earliest pharoahs had built mastabas; these were more like the temples in Mesopotamia. They were several layers, one on top of another, each layer smaller so it went up in steps.