Sunday, November 14, 2010


Don't mistake my fascination with screwball conspiracy theorists and other assorted lunatics for some kind of endorsement.

I've wasted many evenings of my life trying in vain to encourage self-styled psychic mediums, reiki experts, Christians, aromatherapists and other proponents of daft woo-woo to at least place their beliefs under an objective spotlight for a few seconds and make sure they're doing what they want with their precious lives.

I eventually gave up and just let them get on with it, when I realised I didn't want to spend my own life getting frustrated at how other people were squandering theirs.

Still, the joke will be on the new age folk when they die and it turns out Islam was the correct religion all along, as unlikely as it seemed at the time. As an atheist, I'm bound to get off more lightly than the rest of the heretics anyway, as I at least followed the first part of lâ ilâha illallâh correctly ('there is no god...'). I might not have made it to the '…but Allah' part, but at least I didn't waste any time past the age of six devoting my life to the wrong iteration of the one true god, like my homophobic uncle, the Pope and other fine examples of spiritual man.

For a while now, I've been content to let the new age bozos get on with the stupid, meaningless rituals that annoyingly bring them great happiness, without having to subject them to scrutiny. But now I've seen the Egyptian pyramids inside and out, I really think it's time to lay into the ancient astronaut theorists with all the righteous ire and deprecation they deserve, for having the audacity to discredit some of human civilisation's earliest and most enduring accomplishments.

That's a recurring problem among these new age-superstitions and age-old religions - home-grown human ingenuity rarely gets the credit it deserves.

Why the pyramids obviously weren't built by aliens, you dick

Egyptologists don't know how the Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, but there are several likely possibilities.

Unfortunately, many 'pyramidologists' don't make it past the first clause of that sentence before their attention is immediately distracted by the wonderful certainty that it must have been the Annunaki, or the Atlanteans, or the fourth-dimensional Illuminati shapeshifters from Draco that did it. Because it isn't as exciting to think of a load of human men pushing rocks along wooden rollers or up ramps of sand.

There are an exhaustive and widely-publicised number of reasons why and how Old Kingdom bronze age technology would be easily capable of constructing the colossal tombs without magical sci-fi intervention, but I'm just going to focus on one. And to suggest that any pyramidiots who claim to devote themselves to the 'study' of these extraterrestrial monuments, but who haven't yet bothered to make the 20-kilometre trip from Giza down to Saqqara, can look forward to their poorly-researched hypotheses being tested in quite a conclusive way.

Pyramids step-by-step

You wouldn't know it from Hollywood films and Egyptian tourist tat, but there are more pyramids in Egypt than just the three recognisable ones in Giza, even though these are admittedly the most significant and awe-inspiring. There are almost 100 altogether, and King Djoser's step pyramid in the Saqqara necropolis is believed to be the first.

You don't have to be Dr Daniel Jackson to see the obvious signs that this curious monument was a beta test of pyramid design, built as it went along according to the whims of the megalomaniacal pharaoh. Beginning as a single-level mastaba, the spoilt tyrant evidently decided he wanted a tomb with a view (joke courtesy of Count Duckula) and the story goes that he kept insisting on additional, smaller levels being added until his fortunate death, saving his vizier Imhotep the additional burden of having to invent Lego.

Pyramid construction went through several further phases of costly trial and monumental error throughout the Third and Fourth dynasties before reaching its culmination in Khufu's pyramid at Giza - one that would remain definitive, despite the subsequent efforts of Khufu's descendants to upstage their poppy with vain pyramids of their own (your higher bed rock isn't fooling anyone, Khafra! And where's your precious granite façade now, Menkaure? You pharonic fools. Please don't curse me).

On a clear day, Saqqara also offers a view of the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur - an even more revealing insight into the pyramid learning curve. Or rather, slope.

Questions to ask

The nagging question remains: if pyramids were indeed constructed using superior extraterrestrial technology (they weren't), following the pathfinder of the original pyramids of Mars that are generally held to pre-date those on Earth (they're just sloping rocks interpreted over-optimistically), then why would aliens need to practice pyramid building in such a time- and labour-intensive manner?

If the Martians had already mastered five-sided pyramids on their home world, why start from scratch after landing on Earth, making it look deceptively as if we'd arrived at the design ourselves? Did they fail to account for the variable of the Earth's gravitational pull? Oh wait, but you already said they used hover machines to lift the stones in the first place, so that shouldn't be an issue. Shit, it's almost as if your insane theory crumbles at the first analysis.

Or did the aliens just make it look like they didn't know what the hell they were doing in order to test our faith? The same way God artificially carbon-dates Stegosauruses and makes evolution so plausible, in order to deceive Richard Dawkins. And the same way the mischievous aliens left ambiguous hieroglyphics that definitely depict helicopters, but no signs of their power stations, bodily remains or civilisation.

It is not our place to question our aquatic space lords. Where would we be as a society if we didn't question received doctrine?

Novel progress: 18,530 words (37%)