Ancient Pueblo Rock Art Depicts a ‘Celebratory’ Solar Eclipse

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Ancient Pueblo Rock Art Depicts a ‘Celebratory’ Solar Eclipse

The rock art depicting a solar eclipse, possibly from A.D. 1097, looked “more celebratory than frightening,” said a University of Colorado archaeoastronomer.

Credit: J Mckim Malville/University of Colorado

Millions of people will gaze at the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21, shooting photographs and taking selfies. A thousand years ago, early Pueblo people, called Chacoans, captured their experiences of a total solar eclipse by carving it into a rock — a circle with looping streamers that resemble the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona.

Not only does this rock art, or petroglyph, depict a solar eclipse with a gigantic eruption of plasma called a coronal mass ejection (CME), its looping lines may have evoked a wondrous, inspirational experience, said solar astronomer J. McKim Malville, a University of Colorado Boulder professor emeritus, who is an expert in archaeoastronomy.

“The petroglyph looks more celebratory than frightening,” Malville told Live Science. “If our interpretation is correct, they tried to depict theextraordinary sight of the corona, like nothing seen before — associated [it] with a deity that was even more mysterious and powerful than they imagined.” [See Photos of the Petroglyph of the Solar Eclipse]

Malville discovered the petroglyph in 1992, while on a scientific excursion into Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, with W. James Judge, then a professor of anthropology at Fort Lewis College in Colorado. They found the petroglyph among others pecked into a large boulder called Piedra del Sol, near the ruins of a cultural hub for the Chacoans, who thrived there between A.D. 900 and 1150.

A petroglyph found in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico depicts a solar eclipse with a huge coronal mass ejection (an eruption of plasma from the sun).

A petroglyph found in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico depicts a solar eclipse with a huge coronal mass ejection (an eruption of plasma from the sun).

Credit: J Mckim Malville/University of Colorado

When he saw it, Malville immediately recognized something familiar.

“Some people might see it as a bug or a tick or a spider,” he said. “But it struck me as very similar to photographs of coronal mass ejections that I’d seen, and drawings.”

In 2014, Malville and professor José Vaquero of the University of Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain, published a study in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry describing the discovery. They knew that an eclipse had occurred in the region on July 11, 1097, and that the sun’s corona and even CMEs are visible to the naked eye during totality (when the moon’s shadow completely blocks the sun’s light from reaching Earth). But they needed evidence that the sun was in a period of heightened activity, known as solar maximum, when such ejections are most common. It occurs about every 11 years or so, with some variation in the intensity, Malville said.

He and his colleague consulted several sources to determine the level of activity around the time of the eclipse. They looked at data from ancient tree rings, which store traces of atmospheric carbon from photosynthesis and also provide a natural calendar of annual growth. During periods of high solar activity, the sun’s more intense magnetic fields deflect cosmic rays from reaching Earth, reducing the amount of radioactive carbon, found as isotope carbon-14, in tree rings. For the period around 1097, the carbon-14 isotopes were low.

Naked-eye observations of sunspots recorded in ancient Chinese texts also indicated higher solar activity, as did historical data from northern Europeans on the annual number of so-called “auroral nights.” The evidence pointed to high levels of activity on the sun during the 1097 eclipse. [The 8 Most Famous Solar Eclipses in History]

“It turns out, the sun was in a period of very high solar activity at that time, consistent with an active corona and CMEs,” Malville said in news statement.

The depiction itself, a circle with looping streamers radiating from the edge, struck Malville as something jubilant, not frightening.

There are cultures that consider eclipses as dangerous and fearsome omens during the moments when the day turns into “night,” Malville said.

But not all.

He recalled viewing the June 30, 1972, eclipse in Kenya, camped at the eastern edge of Lake Turkana among Turkana, Samburu and El Molo tribes. During the eclipse, the El Molo went into their huts, as they do every evening, remaining there until light returned; they didn’t seem influenced at all by the event, he said. But the other tribes came to the campsite to view the eclipse.

This particular event lasted 7 minutes, an unusually long time, and the people there had a chance to see the beauty of the corona during totality.

“The brightness of the corona is about the brightness of the full moon, so it’s easily seen with the naked eye,” Malville said. (REMEMBER, never look directly at the sun or a solar eclipse without special protective viewers, though you can look at the eclipse without glasses ONLY during the couple of minutes of totality.)

Afterward, the people performed dances to celebrate the eclipse and thank the astronomers for the chance to see it.

Malville thinks that the 1097 eclipse in Chaco Canyon may have stirred a similar sense of wonder in the early Pueblo people. After 1100, the people built 10 large houses, called the Great Houses in Chaco, all of which are in areas that provide dramatic views of the rising or setting sun at the winter or summer solstices, he said.

“There is the possibility that the glory of that experience for the people living in Chaco in 1097 was transformed to an increased reverence for or an increased appreciation of the sun,” Malville said.

He has a theory about why some modern people might claim that ancient civilizations were terrified by eclipses.

“They have never seen the full glory of an eclipse themselves,” he said.

Originally published on Live Science.


Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh May Be the 1st Known ‘Giant’

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Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh May Be the 1st Known ‘Giant’

The possible skull of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Sanakht of the Third Dynasty.

Credit: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland

The supposed remains of Sa-Nakht, a pharaoh of ancient Egypt, may be the oldest known human giant, a new study finds.

Myths abound with stories of giants, from the frost and fire giants of Norse legends to the Titans who warred with the gods in ancient Greek mythology. However, giants are more than just myth; accelerated and excessive growth, a condition known as gigantism, can occur when the body generates too much growth hormone. This usually occurs because of a tumor on the pituitary gland of the brain.

As part of ongoing research into mummies, scientists investigated a skeleton found in 1901 in a tomb near Beit Khallaf in Egypt. Previous research estimated that the bones dated from the Third Dynasty of Egypt, about 2700 B.C. [Photos: The Amazing Mummies of Peru and Egypt]

Prior work suggested that the skeleton of the man — who would have stood at up to 6 feet 1.6 inches (1.987 meters) tall — may have belonged to Sa-Nakht, a pharaoh during the Third Dynasty. Previous research on ancient Egyptian mummies suggested the average height for men around this time was about 5 feet 6 inches (1.7 m), said study co-author Michael Habicht, an Egyptologist at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Evolutionary Medicine.

Ancient Egyptian kings were likely better fed and in better health than commoners of the era, so they could be expected grow taller than average. Still, the over-6-foot-tall remains the scientists analyzed would have towered over Ramesses II, the tallest recorded ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who lived more than 1,000 years after Sa-Nakht and was only about 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall, Habicht said.

In the new study, Habicht and his colleagues reanalyzed the alleged skull and bones of Sa-Nakht. The skeleton’s long bones showed evidence of “exuberant growth,” which are “clear signs of gigantism,” Habicht said.

These findings suggest that this ancient Egyptian probably had gigantism, making him the oldest known case of this disorder in the world, the researchers said. No other ancient Egyptian royals were known to be giants.

“Studying the evolutionary development of diseases is of importance for today’s medicine,” Habicht said.

In the early dynasties of Egypt, short statures were apparently preferred, with “many small people in royal service,” Habicht said. “The reasons for this preference are not always certain.”

Still, because the alleged remains of Sa-Nakht were buried in an elite tomb, there may have been no social stigma attached with gigantism at the time, the researchers said.

The scientists detailed their findings in the August issue of the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Originally published on Live Science.

Desert Fossils Reveal 540-Million-Year-Old Jellyfish ‘Graveyard’

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Desert Fossils Reveal 540-Million-Year-Old Jellyfish ‘Graveyard’

Walk across a beach’s wet sand, and you’ll leave behind imprints that briefly hold the shape of your feet before blurring and falling apart.But 540 million years ago, seaside sand contained densely packed microbial communities, which created a gooey glue that was excellent for preserving impressions of ocean creatures left high and dry by retreating waves.

And on a long-gone seashore in what is now arid Death Valley, sticky sand retained impressions of the oldest known example of a jellyfish stranding, saving a fossilized snapshot of Cambrian period marine life that researchers excavated and described in a new study. [Cambrian Creatures Gallery: Photos of Primitive Sea Life]

The ancient jellyfish were preserved in a slab of sandstone found in southeastern California. Scientists identified 13 of these oval specimens on the rocky surface, ranging from 1.2 to 8.3 inches (3 to 21 centimeters) in diameter. The fossils were lighter than the rock surrounding them, and they varied not only in size but also their style of preservation. Some included convex, circular ridges; others held concave rings around a convex interior; and several were fossilized as more pronounced, rounded mounds, the scientists wrote in the study.

In one jellyfish specimen, shapes of some of the animal’s body parts were still faintly visible. Additional marks in the rock around the fossilized jellyfish hinted at the movements of ancient currents, which may have pushed and distorted the bodies of the stranded jellyfish prior to fossilization. Other marks might have been made by a stranded jellyfish’s attempts to move back into the water, according to the study authors.

Ancient, soft-bodied animals are exceedingly rare in the fossil record, compared with animals with robust skeletons or shells, the study authors wrote. But a unique combination of environmental conditions can preserve even jellyfish in surprising detail, study lead author and geologist Aaron Sappenfield told Live Science.

Illustrations set the scene for a jellyfish stranding during the Cambrian period. A group of jellyfish were swept toward the shore and were beached by the receding tide.

Credit: Aaron Sappenfield/University of California, Riverside


Jellyfish that wash up on beaches today are frequently eaten by scavenging birds and crustaceans, Sappenfield said. But during the Cambrian period, when marine life was bountiful and diverse, there were no large terrestrial scavengers to pick at the jellies’ carcasses. If they became stranded, chances were good that their remains would stay in one place long enough to fossilize, he said.

However, the jellies’ preservation was equally dependent on the gummy, microbe-rich sand that they stranded themselves on, which was also a characteristic of the Cambrian period, Sappenfield said.

“A jellyfish lands on the beach — that big, wet sack settles in the sand — and you get this nice impression with really high resolution because of that binding agent,” he said.

This jellyfish was likely buried in sand after it became stranded; its body collapsed, and the carcass was preserved in the microbe-rich sediment.

Credit: Aaron Sappenfield/University of California, Riverside


Most of the known fossils of mass jellyfish strandings date to the Cambrian, likely because that period presented these unique conditions — few scavengers, and sticky sand — that enabled fossilization in an organism that was very difficult to preserve, Sappenfield told Live Science.

Early Cambrian fossils such as these are also helping paleontologists investigate a long-standing mystery about a group of bizarre marine organisms known collectively as the Ediacaran biota, which appeared around 575 million years ago and abruptly disappeared from the fossil record around the beginning of the Cambrian period, about 540 million years ago, Sappenfield said.

“Trying to compare types of fossils preserved on either side of the boundary is a very important step, to say if they vanished because preservation conditions didn’t favor them, or because of another reason, such as a mass extinction,” he explained.

This oval impression is all that remains of a jellyfish that washed up on a beach 540 million years ago, part of a mass stranding in what is now Death Valley.

This oval impression is all that remains of a jellyfish that washed up on a beach 540 million years ago, part of a mass stranding in what is now Death Valley.

Credit: Aaron Sappenfield/University of California, Riverside


These “boundary” fossils could offer clues about what factors may have led to dramatic shifts like those that occurred for the Ediacaran biota. And with that information, scientists could better understand how ecosystems today may be affected by changing conditions, such as those driven by human activity, Sappenfield said.

“Minor perturbances to ecology and how global ecosystems behave can manifest in very significant changes in the way the biosphere [places on Earth that harbor life] is structured,” he said.

The findings were published online in the July 2017 issue of the journalGeological Magazine.

Original article on Live Science.

Canaanites Live: DNA Reveals Fate of Biblical People

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Canaanites Live: DNA Reveals Fate of Biblical People

A burial jar containing the remains of an ancient inhabitant of the Canaanite city of Sidon. This individual was one of five whose DNA was sequenced to reveal the ancestry of the Canaanites.

Credit: Dr. Claude Doumet-Serhal/The Sidon Excavation

The people of modern-day Lebanon can trace their genetic ancestry back to the Canaanites, new research finds.

The Canaanites were residents of the Levant (modern-day Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine) during the Bronze Age, starting about 4,000 years ago. They’re best known from the Old Testament of the Bible, in which they’re described as the cursed descendants of Canaan, blighted by God because Canaan’s father dishonored his own father, the patriarch Noah. The Canaanites were often in conflict with the Israelite tribes that wrote the Hebrew Bible. In fact, the Book of Deuteronomy features Yahweh (God) ordering the Canaanites to be exterminated.

In part because the Canaanites kept their records on easily degradable papyrus rather than clay, little is known about their side of the story. But now, ancient DNA reveals that the Canaanites were the descendants of Stone Age settlers and the ancestors of the Lebanese. [Biblical Battles: 12 Ancient Wars Lifted from the Bible]

“Canaanite ancestry was widespread in the region,” study researchers Marc Haber and Chris Tyler-Smith of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom wrote in an email to Live Science, “and several groups who were probably culturally different shared the same ancestral background.”

Haber, Tyler-Smith and their colleagues extracted ancient DNA from the bones of five Canaanites who died in the ancient city of Sidon (an area now in Lebanon). The skeletons dated from between 3,750 and 3,650 years ago. The researchers then compared the genetic sequences of these ancient Canaanites with those of 99 modern Lebanese people, as well as with ancient DNA sequences of more than 300 other people from an ancient DNA database.

A young person’s body buried in the Canaanite city of Sidon more than 3,500 years ago.

Credit: Dr. Claude Doumet-Serhal/The Sidon Excavation

The findings revealed broad overlap between Canaanite genetics and the sequences of modern-day people from Lebanon. Researchers even found some ancient gene variations that suggested the Canaanites probably had similar coloration in skin, eyes and hair as Lebanese people do today. It was surprising, Haber and Tyler-Smith said, to find such continuity in the Canaanite line, given all of the conquests and expansions into the Middle East from outside groups since the Bronze Age.

The Canaanites themselves descended from Stone Age settlers who mixed with newcomers from what is now Iran about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, the researchers said. This mixture could be explained by the expansion of the Akkadian Empire, a Mesopotamian empire that peaked around that time, the researchers wrote.

The excavation of Sidon, an ancient Canaanite city in what is now Lebanon.

Credit: Dr. Claude Doumet-Serhal/The Sidon Excavation

After the Bronze Age, the Canaanites did mix a little bit with their neighbors. Modern-day Lebanese populations are largely Canaanite, the DNA showed, with a bit of Eastern hunter-gatherer and Eurasian Steppe influence that got added to the mix some 3,000 years ago, the researchers said.

Understanding the Canaanite’s genetic history is important, Haber and Tyler-Smith said, because so few written records of the group’s story remain.

“Genetics has the power to fill these gaps,” the two told Live Science. The Near East is a key place for these sorts of studies, the researchers said, because it was such a central location in human history.

The next steps are to study “more samples, different places and different time periods,” Haber and Tyler-Smith said.

The researchers reported their findings online today (July 27) in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

Original article on Live Science.

5,000-Year-Old ‘Billboard’ of Hieroglyphs Contains a Cosmic Message

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5,000-Year-Old ‘Billboard’ of Hieroglyphs Contains a Cosmic Message

Hieroglyphics found at El-Khawy in Egypt show two storks, back to back, with an ibis between them (left), as well as a bull’s head (right).

Credit: Courtesy of Yale University

Archaeologists have discovered a “billboard” of hieroglyphs carved into the rocks near the Egyptian village of El-Khawy. The symbols, which show a message related to the cosmos, are the earliest monumental (large) hieroglyphs known, dating back around 5,200 years.

“This newly discovered rock art site of El-Khawy preserves some of the earliest — and largest — signs from the formative stages of the hieroglyphic script and provides evidence for how the ancient Egyptians invented their unique writing system,” John Darnell, a professor at Yale University who co-directs the expedition that discovered the rock art, said in a statement from Yale University. The Egyptian antiquities ministry also issued a statement today (June 22) announcing the discovery.

The archaeologists also discovered another carving, this one showing a herd of elephants, created sometime between 4000 B.C. and 3500 B.C. One of the adult elephants in the scene was drawn with a little elephant inside its body — “an incredibly rare way of representing a pregnant female animal,” Darnell said in the Yale statement.  [Photos: 5,000-Year-Old Hieroglyphs Discovered in Sinai Desert]

Only a few similar scenes are known from Egypt. For example, a vase previously found at the site of Abydos depicts a pregnant hippopotamus, Darnell told Live Science.

In this rock carving, a little elephant is shown inside an adult elephant, an indication that the animal is pregnant. It was carved sometime between 4000 B.C. and 3500 B.C.

In this rock carving, a little elephant is shown inside an adult elephant, an indication that the animal is pregnant. It was carved sometime between 4000 B.C. and 3500 B.C.

Credit: Courtesy of Yale University

The four early hieroglyphic signs were carved around 3250 B.C. And the carvers seemed to be making a statement, as the symbols are about 70 centimeters (27.5 inches) high and had “abright, almost white, color against the patina of the surrounding brown stone” after they were freshly carved, Darnell told Live Science.

“In the modern world, this would be akin to seeing smaller text on your computer screen and then suddenly seeing very large ones made the same way only on a billboard,” Darnell said in the Yale statement.

One of the signs shows a bull’s head on a short pole, a symbol found at other Egyptian sites. “The bull’s head appears to be a symbol of royal power during the formative phases of the Egyptian state,” Darnell told Live Science.

John Darnell, of Yale University, who co-directs the expedition that discovered the rock carvings, is shown here at the site, called El-Khawy.

John Darnell, of Yale University, who co-directs the expedition that discovered the rock carvings, is shown here at the site, called El-Khawy.

Credit: Courtesy of Yale University

The other three signs show two storks, back-to-back, with a bald ibis bird in between them. The stork-ibis-stork arrangement suggests that those three signs are making a “statement about the cosmos through the solar cycle,” Darnell told Live Science, noting that similar arrangements of symbols can be seen at other Egyptian sites.

Together, the four symbols were likely “an expression of royal authority over the ordered cosmos,” Darnell said, adding that the “inscription was visible to travelers going to and from the early city of Elkab.”

The hieroglyphs would have been visible to anyone who passed by during this time, suggesting that many ancient Egyptians were able to understand the signs, Darnell said.

The rock carvings were discovered by a joint expedition from Yale and the Royal Museums of Art and History, in Brussels. The expedition team works in collaboration with the Egyptian antiquities ministry.

Original article on Live Science

The Mummy Returns: Egyptian Dignitary’s Face and Brain Reconstructed

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The Mummy Returns: Egyptian Dignitary’s Face and Brain Reconstructed

The mummified head of Nebiri, an Egyptian dignitary who lived under the reign of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmoses III.

Credit: Francesca Lallo

An international team of researchers has reconstructed the face and brain of a 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummy, revealing a unique “packing” embalming treatment.

Consisting of a well-preserved head and canopic jars containing internal organs, the remains belong to Nebiri, an Egyptian dignitary who lived under the reign of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmoses III (1479–1425 B.C.).

Nebiri’s mummy became famous two years ago when he was diagnosed with the oldest ever case of chronic heart failure. [Photos: The Amazing Mummies of Peru and Egypt]

He was between 45 [and] 60 years old when he died,” Raffaella Bianucci, a bioanthropologist in the Legal Medicine Section at the University of Turin, told Live Science. “His tomb in the Valley of the Queens was plundered in antiquity and his body deliberately destroyed.”

In 1904, Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli found what remained of the mummy, now housed at the Egyptian Museum in Turin.

Now, after his desecration, Nebiri has been brought back to life through modern forensics. Using a type of computed tomography and facial reconstruction techniques, the researchers produced an impressive facial approximation.

Nebiri appears as a man with a prominent nose, wide jaw, straight eyebrows and moderately thick lips.

Scientists have reconstructed the face of Nebiri, an Egyptian dignitary.

Scientists have reconstructed the face of Nebiri, an Egyptian dignitary.

Credit: Philippe Froesch

“The reconstruction is nice, but this is not just art in my eyes,” Philippe Charlier, a forensic pathologist and physical anthropologist at the University of Paris 5, told Live Science. “It is a serious forensic work based on the latest techniques of facial reconstruction and soft tissues over skull superposition. Beyond beauty, there is anatomical reality.” [Image Gallery: The Faces of Egyptian Mummies Revealed]

Preliminary chemical data presented at the World Mummy Congress held in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 showed that the linen bandages had been treated with a complex mixture of an animal fat or plant oil, a balsam or aromatic plant, a coniferous resin and heated Pistacia resin. The recent CT scans revealed the bandages were carefully inserted almost everywhere in the head, in the nose, ears, eyes and mouth.

Researchers reconstructed the brain of Egyptian dignitary Nebiri.
Researchers reconstructed the brain of Egyptian dignitary Nebiri.

Credit: Philippe Froesch

Nebiri’s mummified head is the result of a “perfect packing,” Bianucci, Charlier and colleagues explained in a paper published in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology.

Additional packing was introduced into the mouth to fill the cheeks.

“The meticulous packing created a barrier to protect the body from insect colonization. At the same time, it had a cosmetic purpose, allowing the facial features and neck to maintain their original lifelike appearance,” Bianucci said.

Intriguingly, CT scans showed a tiny hole in a honeycomb-like bone structure known as the cribriform plate, which separates the nasal cavity from the brain. However, the brain was not taken out.

“Given the meticulous treatment of the head, it can be speculated that the perforation of the cribriform plate was not performed to extract the brain, but to insert the linen packing,” the researchers wrote.

Indeed, fragments of linen strips can still be seen within the dehydrated cerebral tissue.

Using data from the CT scan, the researchers could perform a 3D brain surface reconstruction, which allowed them to reconstruct soft tissues destroyed or modified by post-mortem alterations.

“No anatomical anomalies were detected,” Bianucci said.

The elaborate treatment of the head is like the embalming found in the nonroyal couple Yuya and Thuya, the researchers noted. DNA analysis conducted in 2010 identified the couple as the great-grandparents ofTutankhamun.

“We were able to add strength to the argument that Nebiri was [a] high elite,” the paper’s first author, Robert Loynes, at the KNH Center for Biomedical Egyptology at the University of Manchester in England, told Live Science.

Loynes noted the head is a rare example of a high-status funerary treatment of an early 18th Dynasty nonroyal individual.

“It’s a unique finding that predates the developments seen in later 18th to 20th Dynasty kings, queens and kin,” Loynes said.

Dario Piombino-Mascali, an anthropologist at the University of Messina in Sicily, who next month will begin a mummy field school in Sicily (giving students field experience investigating mummies), found it striking that the head alone could reveal so much about mummification.

“Using a combination of non-invasive techniques, the researchers have been able to find a particular treatment of the brain, which did not require its removal,” Piombino-Mascali, who is not involved in the study, told Live Science.

At the crossroads of forensic anthropology and osteo-archaeology, the research opens new possibilities for the study of mummies.

“The brain reconstruction was produced from the Dicom file of the CT scan and, therefore, could be reproduced on any other mummy which had been CT scanned,” Loynes said.

Original article on Live Science

10 Facts About The Pyramids That Could Prove Advanced Ancient Technology

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10 Facts About The Pyramids That Could Prove Advanced Ancient Technology


The ancient pyramids of Giza have wowed mankind for centuries. They tower over the desert landscape, with the Great Pyramid standing a whopping 139 meters (455 ft) high. For many years, the Great Pyramid, believed to have been built by Pharaoh Khufu around 2550 BC, was the largest structure on Earth. The second pyramid is believed to have been built by Khufu’s son, Khafre, circa 2520 BC. The second pyramid also includes the Sphinx, a limestone monument with the body of a lion and ordained with the head of a pharaoh. The third pyramid is much smaller than the first two and is thought to have been built by Pharaoh Menkaure around 2490 BC. Some scientific analysis has determined that these pyramids could be much older than is generally thought, suggesting that Khufu simply claimed the massive structures that were already in place for himself.

Many scientists have concluded that it only took 20,000 workers a period of 20 years to build the Great Pyramid. This is quite astounding, when our history tells that us they only used wooden implements with ropes and pulleys. With all the detail and precise alignments, it is hard to believe that such magnificence could be gained in a 20-year period by so few workers with such limited tools and resources.

Despite all the study of these ancient wonders, scientists still can’t confirm exactly how the pyramids were built. We have not been able recreate them, even on a smaller scale, with the same precision as our predecessors. The technology to do so back then simply didn’t exist, according to current historic teachings. It shouldn’t have been possible for the pyramids to be built. On top of that, the Great Pyramid is the only of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to survive.

With some evidence suggesting that these pyramids could predate the Egyptians, there are those who believe that the pyramids could be a mark left by a more advance civilization, much older than 4,500 years. These are the top ten reasons the pyramids of Giza could prove that advanced ancient technology existed.

10Size And Weight Of Materials

The pyramids‘ massive size alone creates a very persuasive argument that there was some unknown technology involved in their construction. The Great Pyramid, the largest of the three and the largest in the world, consists of 2.3 million stone blocks that weigh 2.5 to 15 tons apiece. According to archaeologists, they were quarried from a nearby source. At such a marvelous weight, how did the workers move these blocks?

It is theorized that large groups of workers would have pushed these massive blocks over wooden ramps. This seems very unlikely, as there does not appear to have been any material, much less any type of wood, that could have withstood the weight of these massive stones. When you do the math for the time frame of the Great Pyramid’s construction, it comes out to workers setting a block every two and half minutes. Seems pretty incredible, if not impossible.

9Intricate Tunnel Systems

New discoveries are regularly made beneath the Giza pyramids. The tunnel systems found below them truly allude to an advanced civilization. Carved from limestone bedrock, these labyrinths protrude deep beneath the desert and have much left to be discovered. The passageways are always revealing new truths and hidden chambers, unknown to man for thousands of years. A recent find by archaeologist Brien Foerster only strengthens the notion that ancient advanced technologies once existed, long before our time.

While exploring deeper into the mazes beneath the pyramids, Foerster discovered 20 boxes cut with precision from Aswan granite. Each box weighs in at 100 tons a piece. Experts believe these huge boxes were burial places for prized bulls. The only issue with this belief is that no bulls have ever been found. The function of the boxes remains a mystery. Some think they were perhaps used to store an ancient form of energy. That might make more sense than bull burials.

8Alignment With The North Pole

There are a lot of theories that circulate concerning the alignment of the pyramids, specifically the Great Pyramid. They all agree that they cannot conclusively say how the ancient Egyptians were able to construct the Great Pyramid with such accuracy to the cardinal directions.

The north-south axis is aligned to within 0.15 degrees of true north-south. The ancient Egyptians didn’t have the North Star like we do today as a guide to true north. One of the only ways for them to have constructed the pyramids with such accuracy would have been to use complex algorithms. These algorithms would have only worked close to the seasonal solstice times, when the Sun’s alignment is more easily viewed. Further complicating the process, we must take into consideration atmospheric conditions, obstruction of viewpoint, etc.

Historically, no records have been found of the process the Egyptians used. The Great Pyramid, constructed thousands of years ago, is more accurate in alignment than our modern-built Meridian Building at the Greenwich Observatory in London.

7Mortar Of Unknown Origin

Samples of the mortar used for the construction of the pyramids have been analyzed many times, and though the composition has been determined, our modern technology has yet to be able to recreate it. The mortar is mostly made of processed gypsum, and it wasn’t used like the cement we use for our modern-day bricks.

Ancient Egyptian mortar was used to support the joints of the huge stones as they were placed. An estimated 500,000 tons of mortar were used during the construction of the Great Pyramid. Astoundingly, this gypsum mortar is stronger than the stones themselves and has remained in place for thousands of years.

6Mysterious Shafts

Photo credit: R.F. Morgan

There has been much speculation regarding the shafts inside the Great Pyramid. Of the three pyramids in Giza, it is the only one to be built with them. The angles of these shafts seem to correspond with celestial bodies. This would still beg the question: What unknown technology were they using to get such precise alignments, and why go through all the trouble?

Just like the pyramid’s alignment with the poles, there are no records found within Egyptian culture that reveal how they were able to get these alignments. There are other theories that state these shafts were simply for ventilation, though most of them do not even break the surface of the pyramid to reach outside air.

520-Ton Door

Photo credit: Olaf Tausch

At one time, some pyramids had huge swivel doors. These massive doors were undetectable because they fit so perfectly into the openings within the pyramids. Such a swivel door was discovered when the Great Pyramid was first being explored.

One could open the door from the inside with minimal force, due to how perfectly balanced it was. We are talking about an estimated 20 tons being moved with ease by a single hand. How the Egyptians were able to cut and place these doors with such precision remains a mystery. How were they able to balance such enormous weight?

4Casing Stones

Photo credit: World Pyramids

The Great Pyramid was once covered in white, polished limestone, referred to as casing stones. This would have made the pyramid shine like a gem in the middle of the desert. The stones reflected the light of the Sun like a mirror. The cuts made in this reflective stone were angled perfectly, so when the Great Pyramid was covered in them, it had a smooth, flat appearance. A great number of these stones were cut from a quarry across the Nile River and then transported across the water. After crossing the river, the stones were placed with an exactness that is difficult to parallel.

A large earthquake in AD 1303 caused many of the casing stones to loosen. They were then used to build mosques and fortresses. Today, all that remains is the inner core of the pyramid. What a sight the Great Pyramid must have been intact, in its day.

3Eight-Sided Precision

Photo credit: Awesci

At first glance, the Great Pyramid of Giza looks like a four-sided pyramid. But from the air, you can see that each side indents, making it an eight-sided structure. It is thought that perhaps these indentations were part of the design in order to keep the casing stones in place. Others have tried to claim that they’re the result of erosion.

Whatever the reason, the precision is amazing. The sides indent by one degree of a half-degree. Even in today’s world, that would be hard to facilitate. To deny the intent behind these indentations and credit the windwith their existence completely undermines the skill it took to make them.

2Khufu’s Coffin

Photo credit: Popo le Chien

It is said that Khufu had the Great Pyramid built, though one wonders. When his sarcophagus was found and analyzed, it raised many questions. It was massive, weighing in at an estimated 3.75 tons, and its dimensions make it too large to have been brought into the chamber. Therefore, it must have been placed while the pyramid was being constructed.

The sarcophagus was made from a solid piece of granite, hollowed out from within. It also features holes that appear to have been made with some form of a drill. There is much to question concerning how such a primitive time could produce such things. The effort it would have taken to hollow out and penetrate this granite raises eyebrows as to how on Earth it was accomplished. Can you imagine a wooden pickax being all you had to work with?

1Strange Heat Spots Observed

Photo credit: AP

In 2015, a thermal scan of the pyramids revealed that the Great Pyramid has three areas along the bottom that generate some form of heat.Speculation as to what could be the cause for these stunning anomaliesbegan quickly. Some say there are small passageways beneath these heat points, which could lead to hidden chambers. Others believe that the heat is being generated by leftover ancient technology that has long been forgotten. There is sure to be more investigation of this discovery, as more heat spots have also been found along the upper half of the Great Pyramid.

Maybe the Great Pyramid of Giza is actually an ancient alien ship, preparing for takeoff after thousands of years at rest, absorbing the Sun’s energy. The heat spots are the engines starting to activate. It’s a possibility, right?

Nicole Shay is a freelance writer who loves all things ancient history.