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  • These iconic monuments are just shouting, screaming at us.

  • Power, dominance, control.

  • I feel about this.

  • I feel so insignificant.

  • Together these pyramids and the Sphinx and the temples

  • create a landscape of power.

  • NARRATOR: The huge sculpture protects the necropolis.

  • A giant symbol of supremacy believed

  • by many to have the face of Khufu's son, Khafre,

  • owner of Giza's second largest pyramid.

  • Despite many visits here, John has never been up close.

  • Today he's been granted special access

  • to explore its enclosure.

  • JOHN: It's absolutely inspiring.

  • I mean, it's just jaw-dropping.

  • I've waited 50 years to be here, and now I'm here.

  • It's just wow.

  • NARRATOR: 66 feet high, the Sphinx gazes

  • east towards the rising sun.

  • JOHN: I know what it's like to work with the living rock

  • and how to carve it.

  • This would have been a monumental challenge.

  • They only had copper chisels, wooden mallets.

  • It would have been a harsh environment.

  • This dust would have been everywhere.

  • And yet the workmen, the craftsmen, the masons,

  • they were all willing participants, loyal to pharaoh.

  • NARRATOR: It would have taken thousands of people decades

  • to construct the epic monuments of Giza,

  • but there's no evidence the pharaohs

  • enslaved people to build them.

  • They didn't draw their power over the people from force.

  • John believes what stood these kings apart was

  • that they inspired devotion.

  • The sheer volume of stone has gone into building this,

  • and each individual block represents the loyalty

  • that they had for Pharaoh.

  • NARRATOR: The huge monuments of Giza

  • represent the peak of the pyramid age.

  • So why was nothing built on this scale again?

  • At the height of Khufu's reign, reliable seasonal rains

  • fed the crops that ensured Egypt's prosperity.

  • For three months every year, the Nile

  • flooded and inundated the farmland, so farmers

  • couldn't work the fields.

  • The farmers were free to help build the King's enormous tomb.

  • They believed he kept the gods content and the country fed.

  • But soon after Khufu completed his pyramid,

  • Egypt began to suffer drought.

  • As crop yields crashed, so did the taxes coming

  • into the state's treasuries, and despite the free labor

  • the Giza monuments almost bankrupted Egypt.

  • The people's loyalty began to falter.

  • The King's tombs that followed got smaller

  • while Khufu's Great Pyramid remained, dominating

  • the Nile's West Bank.

  • JOHN: The sheer power that he held

  • is absolutely unbelievable.

  • NARRATOR: It was a power his struggling successors

  • were desperate to replicate.

  • At Abu Ghurab Italian archeologist

  • Massimiliano Nuzzola wants to know

  • how the kings of the pyramid age held onto power as their wealth

  • and status declined.

  • He has spent his entire career trying to understand a very

  • different monumental structure.

  • An enigma whose mysteries captured

  • his imagination in his very first student course

  • in Egyptology.

  • This enormous scatter of ancient rubble

  • was once a sun temple dedicated to the most powerful

  • god of the pyramid age.

  • MASSIMILLIANO NUZZOLA: Each king wanted a pyramid

  • for achieving his resurrection but this

  • was not enough for the five dynastic kings.

  • They wanted something more.

  • The king built this place to turn himself into a god.

  • The sun god.

  • NARRATOR: The Pharaoh Nyuserre didn't just

  • want to become divine in death.

  • He built this temple because he wanted

  • to be worshipped as a god while he was still alive.

  • Rising from the desert was an enormous obelisk,

  • the centerpiece of the temple.

  • It was not a traditional slender stone needle,

  • but shaped more like a pyramid.

  • Monumental walls enclosed it creating

  • a courtyard in which people could come to worship the sun.

  • The temple aligned perfectly on an east west

  • axis with the path of the sun.

  • So on the summer solstice every year,

  • the sun rose through the entrance,

  • traveled directly over the obelisk,

  • and set at the Western end.

  • This alignment is identical to that of the pyramids.

  • Records suggest that six of the pharaohs who followed Khufu

  • decided to build a sun temple as well as their pyramid

  • to underline their divine status to the people of Egypt.

  • But almost all of these temples are lost.

  • MASSIMILLIANO NUZZOLA: We know that there were

  • six sun temples, and we actually so far

  • have discovered only two.

  • NARRATOR: Max hopes excavating this sun temple will shed light

  • on these kings power, and perhaps

  • help him crack one of the biggest mysteries in Egyptology

  • and find the other missing sun temples.

  • The problem is, Max is not the first to decode

  • this structure's secrets.

  • Early Egyptologists excavated here more than 100 years ago,

  • and left a mess of archaeological confusion

  • in their wake.

  • Well, this find is amazing because it's

  • a cover of matches left by the archaeologists

  • during their work.

  • NARRATOR: Along with their discarded matchboxes,

  • early 20th century excavators left 4,500 year old pottery

  • scattered across the site.

  • As you can see here, this area of the temple

  • is full of pot shells.

  • But unfortunately this material is completely useless for us

  • because it's out of a secure context.

  • Cannot tell us anything about the life of the temple.

  • NARRATOR: If Max can find undisturbed artifacts,

  • they might reveal clues the first archeologists missed.

  • Even the smallest of finds could be

  • crucial in the hunt for the lost sun temples of the pyramid age.

  • [music playing]

These iconic monuments are just shouting, screaming at us.

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How Pharaohs Projected Divine Power | Lost Treasures of Egypt

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    林宜悉 posted on 2022/03/21
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