Latest in the authors’ ongoing study of the major Egyptian monuments at Giza (Voyages of the Pyramid Builders, 2003, etc.), which challenges the mainstream picture of civilization’s earliest days.
With diligence and patience, geologist Schoch (Mathematics and Science/Boston Univ.) and his writing partner, McNally, have produced some of the most entertaining and, in net, enlightening examples of what might be called advocacy science. One need know very little about ancient history or Egyptology to be drawn into their revisionist argument, which has its roots in Schoch’s observation that parts of the Great Sphinx show water weathering rather than the constant sandblasting of an essentially desert environment. From this observation, he initially concluded that the Sphinx must have been built when heavier rainfall was the norm in Egypt, several millennia earlier than the date traditionally assigned to its construction. Now he focuses on the Great Pyramid and its smaller relatives, also at Giza. Why, he wonders, was it built over a previous mound structure rather than on a flat bedrock site, which would have been far easier? Why is its base almost as perfectly square as even modern engineering could have made it? Why is it oriented to the cardinal compass points within a fraction of a degree? Could 100,000 men working 20 years with 20-ton blocks really have built what was not only the heaviest earthly structure but, until the Eiffel Tower, the tallest? And most importantly, why have no proven remains of any pharaoh, let alone those to whom the structures are attributed, ever been found in a Giza pyramid? The authors point out that the first available accounts of the Great Pyramid, by Greek historians, were removed from its actual inception by the same span of time as ours from the birth of Christ. His ideas on who may originally have built it, and when, follow a fascinating compendium of speculations (power plant? military Death Star?) by others, dutifully debunked.
Very readable intrigue, bolstered by logic and calculations.