Saturday, May 31, 2008

Building the Pyramids

I am currently reading Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz. I am reading the chapter on technology. The author gave a delightful description of how the Great Pyramid was constructed with just the simple tools available in Egypt. She did a better job describing it than all the Discovery channel or National Geographic specials on the topic, and without commercials. She discounts all the pyramidologists who claim that the pyramid has some supernatural meaning. It was just a tomb.

She explains how in the modern world we have separated science, magic, and religion. In ancient Egypt these three were all one thing. We can only hope to understand the Egyptians if we can try, even imperfectly, to understand how they perceived the world.

The book uses a very conversational tone. It isn't meant to be a scientific treatise, but calls on all the author's years of research. I like how Mertz will say we do or don't know something. Or that we can or can't hope to understand something else, where the information is lost. This book is definitely worth reading.