Monday, November 09, 2015
Last week, a video surfaced of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson telling students at a graduation ceremony that he believed the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain.
CBS News asked Carson about his comments, which were originally made in 1998 at Andrews University, but the neurosurgeon-turned-politician wouldn't back down from his stance.
"It's still my belief, yes," he said on Wednesday.
If you're thinking, "Wait, what?" you're not alone. Twitter responded after Carson's comments surfaced—many saw the moment as a way to mercilessly mock the GOP candidate.
Dr. Zahi Hawass is the world's most recognizable Egyptologist and Egypt's former Minister of Antiquities. He has excavated ancient sites at Giza, he's authored of dozens of books on Egyptology and the pyramids, and has appeared in a number of documentary films and TV shows on Egyptian antiquity.
To help make sense of Carson's comments, Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich spoke with Dr. Hawass by phone on Sunday, November 8, 2015.
Todd Zwillich: Dr. Hawass, have you heard the statements about the pyramids being used to store grain and the controversy here in the United States?
Dr. Hawass: Yes I have. What Ben Carson said is completely wrong. There is plenty of evidence that it is wrong, and it is wrong for the following reasons:
1. The Canaanites did not come to Egypt until the Middle Kingdom. They have nothing…not one thing…to do with the Old Kingdom.
2. We as Egyptologists and archaeologists have all the evidence that the pyramids were made as tombs, simply because there are pieces of the bodies of the dynastic Kings named Zoser (Djoser) and Menkaure, the builder of the first pyramids, at Giza. The pieces from their bodies — from their mummies — -were found in those pyramids.
3. If you look at the Valley of the Kings and you look at the tombs of pyramids from the New Kingdoms, you find extensive, exhaustive writing that says plainly what they were for. They were tombs.
If the pyramids were made to store grain, why do we have in Egypt 123 pyramids for kings and queens? If they were used for grain, Egyptologists and archaeologists would have excavated this at least once. They have not.
Todd Zwillich: What about claims that the pyramid builders were Canaanite or Hebrew slaves?
Dr. Hawass: I discovered the tombs of the pyramid builders at Giza that showed that the builders were Egyptians. The builders were not slaves. They were buried near the pyramids themselves, and of all the many names of builders that were found inside the tombs of the builders, there is not one name of a Canaanite, not one at all.
Todd Zwillich: Have you heard Dr. Carson's theory before?
Dr. Hawass: The theory from this man is not new it has been said before. Almost every time I walk through the pyramids I meet a visitor who wants to talk about this theory. A Canadian director came once to make a film to prove the grain theory.
There are hundreds of theories about the function of the pyramids in America. Some people believe aliens. Some people believe Atlantis. All of these are completely wrong. We have excavated around the sites and in the sites and it proves that what this man says is completely wrong. I want to say: There is not one piece of evidence to show that it is correct.
The pyramids were solely to represent the power and the dignity of the Pharaohs. And there is every piece of evidence to prove it.
Todd Zwillich: Does it frustrate you when you hear theories like this from well known people?
Dr. Hawass: No. I've written hundreds of books. I hear theories like this all the time. When I hear them, I just laugh. This man wants to use it for publicity in his campaign because it references the Bible and people will believe it. But what happens in the Bible and in the Old Testament happened in the Middle Kingdom. It had nothing at all to do with the Old Kingdom and nothing to do with the pyramids.
Source: The Takeaway.org
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