This June Hollywood’s tomb of old ideas will creak open yet again and present the tale of an ancient Egyptian tomb disturbed by a bumbling archaeologist and/or action-adventure hero, who inadvertently and unwittingly unleashes a curse.
At the ancient site of Hatnub, a quarry in the eastern Egyptian desert not far from Faiyum, archaeologists have recently discovered a sled ramp system used to transport alabaster blocks. Post holes and a ramp with stairs on either side indicate that the contraption allowed Egyptian builders to move heavy blocks up and down steep slopes. Inscriptions have now helped archaeologists from the Institut français d’archéologie orientale and the University of Liverpool to date this groundbreaking technology to at least the reign of Khufu, who ruled from 2589–2566 BCE. Khufu is known as the pharaoh who likely commissioned the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza. Discovery and reconstruction of the ramp allows us to better understand ancient construction techniques. It also chips away at the long-held but fringe theory that the blocks were so heavy and the distances they would have to travel so lengthy that aliens must have built the pyramids.
Where did the theory of aliens building the pyramids actually come from? Since the late 19th century, science fiction writers have imagined Martians and other alien lifeforms engaged in great feats of terrestrial engineering. Earlier alien theories surrounding Atlantis may have spawned fantasies about alien building. The most substantial evidence for non-earthly creatures arrived in the wake of H.G. Wells’s success.
For the first time since its discovery in 1940, the tomb of Mehu in the Saqqara necropolis near Giza has opened to the public.