This is pretty cool: Pyramid Texts Online allows you to read/browse a number of the classics of Egyptology in their original form, directly with your browser. You'll find Budge's hieroglyphic dictionaries, Vyse's three-volume series Operations Carried on at the Pyramids of Gizeh in 1837: With an Account a Voyage Into Upper Egypt, and other words from the likes of Maspero, Gardiner, Charles Piazzi Smyth, Flinders Petrie and Adolf Erman. If the text is a little too small for you, the website also offers links to download PDF/DjVu versions or print a hardcopy via print-on-demand.
Just remember that these are old, public domain works - so while they are influential and fascinating in their own right, they aren't exactly up to date.
A new theory about the role of Machu Picchu has been put forward by an Italian astrophysicist. Giulio Magli argues that - rather than being a royal estate - the mountain-top Inca village might have been a "pilgrimage site and a scaled-down version of a mythic landscape":
In his study, published on the Web site arXiv.org, Magli argues that Machu Picchu's southeast-northwest layout is meant to replicate the path of the sun across the sky in Inca country, averaged over the course of a year.
Southeast-northwest is also the direction traveled by the first Inca during their mythic journey—again, likely influenced by the sun, which was worshipped as a god.
As a sacred site, Machu Picchu may have been open to commoners and highborn alike, much like a known Inca pilgrimage destination on the Island of the Sun, Magli said.
You can download a PDF of Magli's paper directly from ArXiv.org. Also note that Magli last year put forward a new theory about the pyramids of the Giza Plateau in Egypt, suggesting that the two largest pyramids were built by Khufu as part of a single, symbolic project.
For those that have always wanted to visit the land of the pharaohs: bestselling author Robert Bauval is leading a tour to Egypt in October which will take in many of the jaw-dropping sites of one of the most ancient human civilisations:
Come and discover the great jubilee ceremonies of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation of Ancient Egypt with Robert Bauval, 'rogue' Egyptologist and controversial author of THE ORION MYSTERY, and surprise guest speaker. This dynamic duo will host an awe-inspiring tour of Egypt which offers a unique opportunity to experience the ancient sacred solar events at the stunning sites of the Giza Pyramids, the great solar temples of Abu Simbel, Karnak and Luxor, and staging a wonderful apotheosis at Akhenaten's "Horizon of the Aten" sun city of Tell El Amarna.
As dawn breaks witness the golden light of sunrise flow into the holy of holies of these magnificent temples and bring them back to life in an awe-inspiring display of light and shadow. These solar events only take place from 16 to 26 October depending on the latitude of the site.
So come along and capture the universal life force of the Egyptian sun at dawn and the benevolent influence of the constellations at night as we travel literally along the whole course of the sacred and eternal Nile Valley with your favourite alternative history author and kindred spirits.
Full itinerary and booking details are available on the website.
Our good friend (and Darklore contributor) Mike Jay has just released a fascinating new book, The Atmosphere of Heaven (available from Amazon US and UK), which explores the hidden history of the discovery of nitrous oxide:
At the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol, England, founded in the closing years of the eighteenth century, dramatic experiments with gases precipitated a revolution not only in scientific medicine but also in the modern mind.
Propelled by the energy of maverick doctor Thomas Beddoes, the Institution was both laboratory and hospital—the first example of a medical research institution. But when its researchers discovered the mind-altering properties of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, their experiments devolved into a pioneering exploration of consciousness, with far-reaching and unforeseen effects.
In this fast-paced and dramatic narrative, Mike Jay tells the story of Dr. Beddoes and the brilliant circle who surrounded him: Erasmus Darwin and the Lunar Society, who supported his experiments; Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey, who were inspired by his ideas; James Watt, who designed and built his laboratory; Thomas Wedgwood, the visionary heir to the pottery dynasty, who funded it; and Beddoes’ dazzling young chemistry assistant, Humphry Davy, who tested nitrous oxide to its limits with legendary results.
The Atmosphere of Heaven is a riveting account of the chaotic rise and fall of the Institution, and reveals for the first time its crucial influence - on modern drug culture, attitudes toward objective and subjective knowledge, the development of anaesthetic surgery, and the birth of the Romantic movement.
For an introduction to the topic, make sure you check out an article Mike's just written for the Boston Globe, titled The Day Pain Died". And for more of his wonderful historical investigations, see Mike's articles in Darklore (all three of which are available as free PDF downloads from the site, you lucky sods!) on topics as varied as the origins of the Illuminati, psychedelic usage in ancient America, and Sherlock Holmes' cocaine habit.
The latest issue of Time and Mind (2:2) has been released, with yet more fascinating articles examining archaic consciousness. Topics covered include the origins of 'fairy music', the attraction of quartz, Hopi cosmology and the 'spirit of place'. The website features links to the abstracts of each article, which can be purchased individually, or you can get the journal as a whole. Or, perhaps suggest to your nearest library that they start getting the journal in...
On his recent visit to Egypt, U.S. President Barack Obama toured the pyramids of Giza, escorted by you-know-who...
How come Zahi didn't show me around the place when I visited?
The most popular page on the Daily Grail (besides the front page) is my listing of esoteric and historical sites that you can 'visit' through Google Earth (accessed over 220,000 times thus far). And there's obviously no shortage of people hunting for strange things imaged by Google's satellites - over the years we've had news of Atlantis being supposedly discovered, and various instances of alleged 'UFOs'.
Well, for all you anomaly hunters, here's a site you might like: Google Earth Anomalies.
Perhaps one of the most interesting features on the site is the Utah Geoglyphs:
Ed Payne from Lindon, Utah has made some amazing discoveries using Google Earth. An incredible series of ancient lines, circles and shapes has been documented similar to the famous landscape lines in Nazca, Peru except these lines exist on the American landscape. The circular features, and various linear shapes are connected by lines and they appear to be ancient in origin found in very remote locations in Utah. Many of the geoglyphs have been partially hidden by nature and some of the lines have been turned into modern roads. Some long lines continue up to the edges of tall cliffs where they are abruptly cut off by a vertical drop.
The site contains direct links to online Google Maps to verify the 'discoveries' are genuine locations, and you can also find the coordinates if you want to browse them on Google Earth.
Dr Zahi Hawass has always had a voracious appetite for media coverage. At the moment though, he's had to enter damage control after two separate media interviews in which he made questionable comments about the Jewish people. Last month he posted on his website a "Clarification of Remarks on Jewish History", aimed at defusing a growing controversy about remarks he made on Egyptian TV on February 11, 2009, including "For 18 centuries they were dispersed throughout the world. They went to America and took control of its economy. They have a plan. Although they are few in number, they control the entire world." The Big Z's clarification of these remarks was that he had been misunderstood: what he was doing was contrasting "the relative unity of the international Jewish community with the political fragmentation that we see among the Arabs."
The concept of killing women, children and elderly people… seems to run in the blood of the Jews of Palestine. [In fact,] it seems to have become part of the false faith of this people, who is tormenting us in our [own] homeland.
“When I speak of the Jewish faith, I do not mean their [original] faith, but the faith that they forged and contaminated with their poison, which is aimed against all of mankind… The only thing that the Jews have learned from history is methods of tyranny and torment – so much so that they have become artists in this field. They have done to the Palestinians what Pharaoh and Sargon [of Akkad] did to the Jews…
Yesterday, Dr Hawass posted a "further clarification" of his remarks on his website, saying "they were addressed to Middle Eastern readers, and thus were written in a rhetorical style meant to communicate specifically with this audience." Hrmmm.
To be fair, it is a common error when discussing these sensitive topics to mean a specific group or individuals, but in saying the words come across as generalising about a complete population or culture - though some of the comments are hard to rationalise away in that manner. It's also worth noting this 2002 article by Robert Bauval on the very topic of Egyptology and Anti-Semitism, which has other dubious comments about Jews from Zahi, as well as rather odd accusations towards Robert himself about being "a Jew".
This probably stems from earlier tensions in Egypt with the Sphinx expedition involving John Anthony West and Boris Said, with the "redating" of the Sphinx often being viewed by modern Egyptians as an attempt to steal their history. Bauval explores some of these tensions and conspiracy theories in his book Secret Chamber, noting also that a later (officially sanctioned) Giza expedition by the Cayce-aligned Schor Foundation proposed to wear the 'Star of David' logo on their t-shirts (being the logo of Joe Schor's Foundation).
Then add to those the involvement of people such as Lambert Dolphin in Giza expeditions over the years, and incidents such as the controversial gold capping of the Great Pyramid at the Millennium (echoing Masonic prophecies), and we start getting a bit lost in Zionist-Masonic-Christian Fundamentalist-New Age conspiracy theories. So forgive me for not even trying to dig further into this topic...
Here's a new video on the restoration of the Step Pyramid of Djoser (and uncovering of his massive granite sarcophagus), featuring - of course - Dr Zahi Hawass. Djoser's pyramid is one of the earliest examples of monumental work on a truly massive scale, predating the Giza pyramids by a couple of centuries.
Whatever you think of Dr Hawass, he's not boring to watch (give him a cape and a big pipe organ and it would be perfect) - just a shame there's not more coverage of the actual granite sarcophagus rather than the Big Z's mug. Still, great to see these sorts of short videos coming out of Egypt. Archaeology projects could take a leaf out of Zahi's book here - I'm sure there would be a pretty sizeable audience out there interested in seeing updates from digs around the world.
The most excellent PBS documentary series Nova has recently been filming a feature on the Great Sphinx at Giza which is due to air at the end of the year. They've even managed to get that shrinking violet, Dr Zahi Hawass, in front of the camera (amazing, I know) - and the Big Z has added an article to his website with information about his participation (along with Mark Lehner and Rainer Stadelmann), and three specific facets of his work with the Sphinx (original conservation, protection from groundwater, and laser scanning of the monument to preserve a record of it).
The research on protecting the Sphinx from groundwater also allowed Dr Hawass to put the boot into the alternative history triumvirate of Hancock, West and Bauval, via some new results from drilling within the Sphinx enclosure:
Perhaps the most important result of the groundwater project was that it enabled us to put to rest speculation about mysterious underground tunnels and chambers carved below the Sphinx by “ancient civilizations.” For years, I have debated people like John Anthony West, Robert Bauval, and Graham Hancock, who say that survivors of a lost civilization 10,000 years ago left secrets buried beneath the Sphinx. These people also claim that the erosion of the Sphinx was caused by water, and that this necessarily means that it dates back to long before the Old Kingdom. None of their theories has any basis in fact, but their supporters have insisted that we should drill holes to try and find these hidden chambers. I have always refused to permit such a project in the past, because there was no scientific basis for it. Because such drilling was a necessary part of our work to protect the Sphinx from groundwater, however, we did finally drill in the vicinity of the statue, and we found that there were no hidden passages or chambers there. The Sphinx is indeed a guardian of civilization and the record of the past, but it is the civilization of Egypt’s Old Kingdom that created it.
There was also discussion of the redating of the Sphinx, but without mention of Robert Schoch or John Anthony West. Instead, the question was restricted to "the debate over whether the Sphinx dates to the reign of Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid, or to that of Khafre, for whom the second pyramid of Giza was built." Rainer Stadelmann provided the argument for the theory that the Sphinx was built during the reign of Khufu, while Dr Z and Mark Lehner argued for the 'orthodox' dating from the reign of Khafre.
Previously on TDG: