Racism is behind outlandish theories about Africa’s ancient architecture.

12 min


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Some of the most impressive buildings and cities ever made by humans can be found in Africa: the ruined city of Great ZimbabweMapungubwein South Africa, Kenya’s Gedi Ruins and Meroe in Sudan. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring of these are the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza, in Egypt.

This should come as no surprise. Africa has an extensive archaeological record, extending as far back as 3.3 million years ago when the first-ever stone tool was made in what is today Kenya. The continent’s cultural complexity and diversity is well established; it is home to the world’s oldest-known pieces of art. And, of course, it is the birth place of modern humans’ ancient ancestors, Homo sapiens.

Despite all this evidence, some people still refuse to believe that anyone from Africa (or anywhere in what is today considered the developing world) could possibly have created and constructed the Giza pyramids or other ancient masterpieces. Instead, they credit ancient astronauts, extraterrestrials or time travellers as the real builders.

Well, you may ask, so what? Who cares if relatively few people don’t believe the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids? What’s the harm? Actually, there is great harm: firstly, these people try to prove their theories by travelling the world and desecrating ancient artefacts. Secondly, they perpetuate and give air to the racist notion that only Europeans – white people – ever were and ever will be capable of such architectural feats.

A threat to world heritage

In 2014 two German pseudo-scientists set out to “prove” that academics were concealing the Giza pyramids’ “real” origin. To do so, they chiselled off a piece of one of the pyramids – of course, without authorisation, so they could “analyse” it.

And earlier in 2017 scientists from the World Congress on Mummy Studies in South America published a communique on their Facebook page to draw attention to the raiding of Nazca graves for a pseudo-scientific research programme called the Alien project. It insists that aliens rather than ancient Peruvians were responsible for the famous geoglyphs called the Nazca Lines, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Such incidents exemplify the threats to developing nations’ cultural heritage. Conservation authorities around the world must spend a great deal of money to protect and restore unique pieces of heritage, and to guard them against vandalism. For instance, the most recent overhaul planned for the Giza site – back in 2008 – was estimated at a cost of USD$45 million.

These are not wealthy nations, as a rule, and it costs money they often don’t have to repair the damage done by, among others, pseudo-scientists.

Racism and colonial attitudes

A series of stone circles in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province provides an excellent example of the other problem with pseudo-archaeologists. Some people genuinely believe that these structures were designed by aliens. They scoff at scientific research that proves the stone circles were made by the Koni people using ropes, sticks and wood. They will not even entertain the notion that ancient African tribes could be responsible.

But the same people have no problem believing that medieval Europeans built the continent’s magnificent cathedrals using only ropes, sticks and wood. They dismiss scientific research that overwhelmingly provesancient Africans’ prowess, but insist the documents which contain evidence of Europeans’ construction processes are beyond reproach.

Why is it so hard for some to acknowledge that ancient non-European civilisations like the Aztecs, people from Easter Island, ancient Egyptians or Bantu-speakers from southern Africa could create intricate structures?

The answer is unfortunately as simple as it seems: it boils down to profound racism and a feeling of white superiority that emanates from the rotting corpse of colonialism.

Colonial powers saw their “subjects” in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia as exotic, fascinating – but ultimately primitive.

An increasing knowledge and understanding of the archaeological record mostly dispelled these notions. But for some, and until nowadays, it seems unthinkable that ancient non-European societies have been resourceful and creative enough to erect such monuments. So, the thinking went, conventional science must have been missing or hiding something: ancient astronauts, aliens, or the lost civilisation of Atlantis. Even some mainstream scholars have dabbled in this thinking.

Telling the truth

The ancient city of Meroe. Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

The internet and social media has given these modern conspiracy junkies a perfect platform to share their theories. They try to make others believe that scientists are hiding “the truth” about ancient monuments. Sometimes they even succeed.

There is a risk that they will drown out quality knowledge and science with their colourful, outlandish theories. When such bizarre theories emerge, it can water down people’s understanding and appreciation of Africa’s architectural and cultural heritage.

At the same time, these theories can prevent awareness about Africa’s rich heritage from developing. The heirs of the real builders may never learn about their ancestors’ remarkable achievements.

Scientists have a crucial role to play in turning the tide on such harmful theories. Those of us who are doing ongoing research around the continent’s architectural and fossil record should be sharing our findings in a way that engages ordinary people.

We must show them just how awe-inspiring structures like Great Zimbabwe, Meroe and the Giza Pyramids are – not because they were created by some alien race, but because they are living proof of ancient societies’ ingenuity.

cultural complexity and diversity is well established; it is home to the world’s oldest-known pieces of art. And, of course, it is the birth place of modern humans’ ancient ancestors, Homo sapiens.

Despite all this evidence, some people still refuse to believe that anyone from Africa (or anywhere in what is today considered the developing world) could possibly have created and constructed the Giza pyramids or other ancient masterpieces. Instead, they credit ancient astronauts, extraterrestrials or time travellers as the real builders.

Well, you may ask, so what? Who cares if relatively few people don’t believe the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids? What’s the harm? Actually, there is great harm: firstly, these people try to prove their theories by travelling the world and desecrating ancient artefacts. Secondly, they perpetuate and give air to the racist notion that only Europeans – white people – ever were and ever will be capable of such architectural feats.

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A threat to world heritage

In 2014 two German pseudo-scientists set out to “prove” that academics were concealing the Giza pyramids’ “real” origin. To do so, they chiselled off a piece of one of the pyramids – of course, without authorisation, so they could “analyse” it.

And earlier in 2017 scientists from the World Congress on Mummy Studies in South America published a communique on their Facebook page to draw attention to the raiding of Nazca graves for a pseudo-scientific research programme called the Alien project. It insists that aliens rather than ancient Peruvians were responsible for the famous geoglyphs called the Nazca Lines, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Such incidents exemplify the threats to developing nations’ cultural heritage. Conservation authorities around the world must spend a great deal of money to protect and restore unique pieces of heritage, and to guard them against vandalism. For instance, the most recent overhaul planned for the Giza site – back in 2008 – was estimated at a cost of $45-million.

These are not wealthy nations, as a rule, and it costs money they often don’t have to repair the damage done by, among others, pseudo-scientists.

Racism and colonial attitudes

A series of stone circles in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province provides an excellent example of the other problem with pseudo-archaeologists. Some people genuinely believe that these structures were designed by aliens. They scoff at scientific research that proves the stone circles were made by the Koni people using ropes, sticks and wood. They will not even entertain the notion that ancient African tribes could be responsible.

But the same people have no problem believing that medieval Europeans built the continent’s magnificent cathedrals using only ropes, sticks and wood. They dismiss scientific research that overwhelmingly proves ancient Africans’ prowess, but insist the documents which contain evidence of Europeans’ construction processes are beyond reproach.

Why is it so hard for some to acknowledge that ancient non-European civilisations like the Aztecs, people from Easter Island, ancient Egyptians or Bantu-speakers from southern Africa could create intricate structures?

The answer is unfortunately as simple as it seems: it boils down to profound racism and a feeling of white superiority that emanates from the rotting corpse of colonialism.

Colonial powers saw their “subjects” in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia as exotic, fascinating – but ultimately primitive.

An increasing knowledge and understanding of the archaeological record mostly dispelled these notions. But for some, and until nowadays, it seems unthinkable that ancient non-European societies have been resourceful and creative enough to erect such monuments. So, the thinking went, conventional science must have been missing or hiding something: ancient astronauts, aliens, or the lost civilisation of Atlantis. Even some mainstream scholars have dabbled in this thinking.

For four millennia it was the world’s tallest building, not being surpassed until the 160-metre tall spire of Lincoln Cathedral was completed in around 1300CE. The accuracy of work is such that the four sides of the base have a mean error of only 15 mm in length, and 12 seconds in angle from a perfect square. The sides of the square are aligned quite precisely in North-South and East-West directions. The sides of the pyramid rise at an angle of approximately 51°51′.

A wonder of the ancient world in their own right, the casing stones of the Great Pyramid were cut with optical precision many of which being off of true plane for their entire surface area by as little as 1/50th of an inch as well as being fit so perfectly together that the tip of a knife could not be inserted between their joints along any edge even to this day. Another interesting feature is that the light reflected by the Great Pyramid being encased in this precision laid, highly polished, bone-white limestone could be seen miles away even under moonlight.

The Great Pyramid differs in its internal arrangement from the other pyramids in the area. The greater number of passages and chambers, the high finish of parts of the work, and the accuracy of construction all distinguish it. The walls throughout the pyramid are predominantly bare and uninscribed. Three chambers are arranged centrally, on the vertical axis of the pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut in the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built; it is the largest of the three and appears to be unfinished, roughly cut in stone. The middle chamber or “queen’s chamber” is the smallest, measuring approximately 5.74 by 5.23 metres, and 4.57 metres in height. Its eastern wall has a large angular doorway or niche, and two narrow shafts, about 20 centimeters wide, extending from the chamber to the outer surface of the pyramid, blocked by limestone “doors” at several points. Egyptologist Mark Lehner believes that the chamber was intended as a serdab—a structure found in several other Egyptian pyramids—and that the niche would have contained a statue of the king, but the true purpose of the chamber remains a mystery.

The uppermost chamber or “king’s chamber,” approximately 10.45 by 5.20 metres and 5.80 metres high, bears shafts similar to those in the middle chamber. It has an antechamber adjoining via a small doorway, and a flat ceiling composed of nine large granite blocks, separated by five small relief chambers. It contains a huge granite sarcophagus which must have been placed in it during construction; it is too large to pass through the tiny passageway of the burial chamber.

A descending passage leads from the entrance of the pyramid to the underground chamber. About half-way along, a second passage ascends towards the upper chambers. This again breaks into two corridors, one horizontal, leading to the ‘queen’ chamber, and the other still ascending, leading into the burial chamber. This final asscending corridor is a fantastic space with a height of aprox. 8 metres, which earned it a name of ‘grand gallery’. The grand gallery leans next to the walls of the burial chambers, and is connected with it through a tiny, tight passageway.

This passageway once contained crude stone mechanisms for one-time release of huge granite blocks which sealed the entrance into the burial chamber. The grand gallery also contained some sort of mechanism for the release of a huge stone block which plugged the ascending passage. The entire upper part of the pyramid was thus sealed after the burial of the king. There was one secret passage that was not sealed, leading through the very rock upon which the pyramid was built, towards the descending passage and outside the pyramid, through which the last of the workers and funerary priests could escape after the burial of the king.

Apart from accessible chambers and corridors, the Great Pyramid also holds inaccessible spaces. The so-called ‘air shafts’ are canals which run through the stone mass of the pyramid at certain angles, connecting the burial chamber of the king with the north and south face of the pyramid outside. Why these were planned and built is not known, although they were certainly not ‘air’ or ‘ventilation’ shafts. It is possible that they had a symbolic meaning, allowing the soul of the deceased king to travel to the stars in the north and south sky, which were important in Egyptian religion and mythology.

Another interesting feature of the Great Pyramid are the so-called ‘relieving chambers’. This is an ingenious system raised over the king’s burial chamber, constructed to relieve vertical and horizontal loads. The relatively thin wall between the burial chamber and the grand gallery likely could not absorb all of the horizontal pressure from the granite roof of the chamber. Thus, the granite roof had to be raised above the level of grand gallery. However, this created another problem, since now the walls of the burial chamber would be more than 8 meters high, and thus very unstable. Thus, huge granite slabs were placed horizontally as stabilisers between the walls, one above another. The empty spaces between granite slabs today are called ‘relieving’ chambers, though they were never meant to be accessed; and were not until the 19th century, when they were opened by dynamite. This, turned out to be an incredibly valuable discovery. Since the ‘relieving chambers’ were never meant to be accessed, the stone blocks on their walls were not prepared and laid as carefully as those in the accessible interior of the pyramid. Thus, graffiti of the pyramid workers were found inscribed on some of the blocks, mentioning the names of the worker crews which built the pyramid (or at least placed these particular stones), and the year of rule and the name of the pharaoh who had the pyramid built: Khufu. The Great Pyramid is otherwise completely empty of any inscriptions or hieroglyphs whatsoever. This is the only evidence which proves that pharaoh Hor Medjedu Khnum Khufu had the Great Pyramid built, and that this is, in fact, the legendary king which Herodotus calls Kheops.

I do not know and don’t need to know to be convinced they (black people) built those pyramids. The evidence of that is the paintings they left in those structures depicting just that, black people building the pyramids. I’d suggest that the answers of whites and Arabs here are Eurocentric or Arabcentric at best, racist at worst. The thinking is that black Africans can never have built those structures. A racist, bigoted sentiment you’d typically find in comments or collapsed answers.

Let me examine some major instances. Jeff cherrypicks certain artifacts enabling his starting point that blacks never built those pyramids. He also seems to have, unsurprisingly, bought the misconception that the Nubians weren’t Egyptians. In fact, they were along with the Ethiopians. Sarah Johnson takes a seemingly benign but in truth insidious view, that the paintings indicating a range of complexions blacks have from light yellow through light brown to dark black somehow applied to another race not black, with blacks being ‘foreign’ taking the back seat. Ancient Egypt is one of few, if not the only culture suffering from this strange reasoning.

I’m Iredia an unabashed Afrocentric in that I think ancient Egyptians were peopled mainly by blacks whose closest descendants are black East Africans particularly those up North in Egypt and Sudan.

This is an image of kings who built or had pyramids built for them starting in the 27th Century BCE. The image at the near top right is of Imhotep, the person who built the first pyramid. The three kings in the middle are the kings of the Giza Pyramids. You be the judge. Do any of them look like they’re not brown skinned Africans? The men are numbers 17, 19 and 20 on the list below. You can also Bing search their names and find more images of them. The people who built the pyramids looked like them since they didn’t import foreign labor to build them.

One of these things isn’t like the others.

Sesame Street – One Of These Things – Letters and numbers

The people who built the pyramids and other architectural projects looked like the images below.

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Jeff Kay

Jeff Kay, Seen em, study em.Answered Aug 24, 2017

When did the black people of Africa truly build the pyramids of Giza?

Never. The ancient Egyptians weren’t “black”, they were the lighter skinned color of the northern African peoples, such as the Bedouins

Yes, there were Egyptians that were black, probably in Southern Egypt, closer to Nubia, but the art and painted statuary show a people of brownish skin.

Here is a painting from the tomb of Seti showing a Libyan, a Nubian, an Asiatic and an Egyptian.

And a bust of an Egyptian man, which doesn’t look black at all.

The question is leading, and isn’t much of a question at all. However, the OP’s attempt shows lack of research or even interest in the subject, which really just makes this look foolish.


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Sande Kennedy

Sande Kennedy is the founder of SandeKennedy.com & Kenyans247.com He is a Kenyan-based Internetprenuer,blogger Political Activist,informer who has an interest in politics, governance, corporate-fraud and human-interest. Kindly drop me a note if you feel aggrieved on any matter that you would want to be highlighted. Twitter @itssandekennedy , Instagram @itssandekennedy WhatsApp: +254791890826 Read More about me here

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