Lighting Up Saqqara:

Lighting Up Saqqara: An Electrifying Theory for the Serapeum Sarcophagi

The Serapeum of Saqqara has been a continuous source of speculation and mystery since its re-discovery in 1850. Even now, no theory has been able to explain exactly how or why the 24 giant sarcophagi were moved to the site and precisely installed in their notches. The mainstream theory suggests the site was used for the burial of Apis bulls, though many elements do not add up with this belief.

For example, the size of the boxes exceeds the size of the bulls; was it done to provide extra comfort for them? Why not do the same for the pharaohs, who were buried in tiny coffins barely fitting their bodies? Why did they make the Serapeum sarcophagi out of granite and not with limestone, a material much easier to work with? And if Serapeum was the burial site for the Apis bulls, where are the bull mummies?

A little Photoshop to compare the size of a bull (which is about 2.3 meters long) and a Serapeum sarcophagus based on measurement by Linant-Bey. This is a typical bull mummy from Dynastic times.

Several people reject the theory of the Serapeum having been used for ceremonial burials (at least not in the grand gallery of the site where the large coffins are located), but if not that, then what was it used for?  The hall that runs between the sarcophagi is more than the length of 2 ½ football fields! That is the question posed by some Egyptologists…and it is little wonder that they hear a “sound of crickets chirping” in return – in other words, they’ve found no other plausible alternative theory. By default, we fall back to the Apis theory with all its flaws.

What is unexplained to me regardless of the purpose is how they were transported underground down a narrow hall and put in place. Linant de Bellefonds calculated one of the large sarcophagi of the Greater Vaults to have a total mass of 62 tons (124,000 lbs) at most: 37.6 tons (75,000 lbs) for the body and 24.4 tons (49,000 lbs) for the lid. To get a good idea of how amazing these sarcophagi are check out the segments in season 13 episode 7 of Ancient Aliens.

A rising Tide

339 A Rising Tide

It’s everywhere: Sea-level rise’s surprising reach damaging more than East Coast shoreline

Kelly Powers and Dinah Voyles Pulver, USA TODAY

February 5, 2023·

Sections of 2,200 feet of geotextile tubes installed in 2019 behind 13 private lots on Ponte Vedra Beach have been uncovered by erosion from a recent storm.

A walk down this 6-mile stretch of Florida beach might feel different than others.

Some things are the same. Rolling waves reach into smooth sheets, polishing the beach. Seaweed and shells tumble and settle, tumble and settle.

Look to the land, and the view is unexpected. Dunes have been carved into jagged cliffs. Strange canvas tubing pokes out of eroding sand mounds.

Keep walking and the view changes again. Newly imported plants grip a rebuilt dune, the result of an expensive human project.

Ponte Vedra Beach is just one place that provides a firsthand view of all the problems storm surge and high tides and sea-level rise bring in with them.

Seawalls jut from the sand, blamed by some for additional erosion elsewhere. Residents installed over 2,000 feet of geotextile tubing along the beaten dunes, with mixed results.

Meanwhile, their homes peer over a sand cliff’s edge.

“People are trying to beat Mother Nature,” said Nancy Condron, who built a home on this beach with her husband in 2008. “And what they really need to do is move their structures back and have a natural dune.”

Condron has been vocal in her opinions, having built west of the state’s coastal construction limits, but debates persist.

“It’s depressing.”

How old is the Sphinx?

How old is the Sphinx?

“The Great Sphinx of Giza, a giant limestone figure with the body of a lion and the head of a man wearing a pharaoh’s headdress, is the national symbol of Egypt—both ancient and modern—and one of the world’s most famous monuments. Despite its iconic status, geologists, archaeologists, Egyptologists, and others continue to debate the Sphinx’s enduring “riddle”: Exactly how old is it? The most common wisdom holds that the monolith is around 4,500 years old, and was built for Khafre, a pharaoh of Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty who lived circa 2603-2578 B.C. His pyramid is the second tallest of the pyramids built at Giza, next to his father Khufu’s Great Pyramid. To make up for its lesser size, Khafre’s pyramid was built at a higher elevation and surrounded by a more elaborate complex with numerous statues, including the Sphinx, the head of which is thought to be built in the pharaoh’s image.

Not everyone believes that the Sphinx was built for Khafre, however. As far back as the mid-19th century, some Egyptologists pointed out that even though the Sphinx is located within the pyramid complex traditionally identified as Khafre’s, no contemporary inscriptions directly link him with the statue. Over the years, various researchers have credited the Sphinx to Khafre’s father, Khufu, and to Djedefre, another of Khufu’s sons. More recently, a new theory emerged that places the statue’s origins much further back, to some 9,000 years ago. Supporters of this hypothesis point to extensive erosion of the limestone near the top of the Great Sphinx, arguing that the last time the region experienced enough rainfall in the region to cause this type of erosion of limestone was 7000 B.C.

Dating the Sphinx back this far suggests the statue was the work of an advanced civilization predating the ancient Egyptians—an intriguing, if highly controversial, proposition. Most scholars still accept the traditional dating of the Sphinx to Khafre’s era, arguing that the new theory doesn’t take into account all the evidence on the table. Carved from the natural limestone of the Giza Plateau, known as the Mokkatam Formation, the Sphinx is known to erode very quickly, which would explain why it looks older than its age. Moreover, water drainage beneath the ground’s surface or flooding from the Nile River could have caused the erosion in question, rather than precipitation. According to the Ancient Egypt Research Association (AERA), the architectural and geological evidence both support the conclusion that the Sphinx and its adjoining temple were built along with the rest of Khafre’s pyramid complex, and were in fact among the last of the monuments to be completed.”