Today, we got special access to a lonely pyramid on a high elevation overlooking the entire Delta including all pyramids in Giza, Abusyr, Dashur, and Lisht...the strange pyramid at Abu Rowash attributed to Khufu's direct throne heir, Djedefre. Strangely, Djedefre's pyramid, which he called "starry tent", has no roof. Was it designed that way or did it collapse?
When I descended into the open air wide gallery to the bottom where you can see the beginnings of a grotto chamber similar to the subterreanean chamber of Khufu, I felt like I climbing down the reverse of the Grand Gallery of the Great Pyramid. Looking up above you get the feel this was meant to be open and shown a slice of heaven over Djedefre's last resting place. Clearly, he wanted to be closer to the sky since the view from up here is majestic.
Djedefre held the throne for only eight years and you can tell that this pyramid had to be built fast. A good portion of the base is natural limestone, some of which contains seashells and flint veins. Then there are courses, intermittently trading places with nature, of hewn stone blocks and even some pink granite blocks which look like they came from Aswan.
How the ancient Egyptians were able to cut granite is one of the greatest mysteries dividing traditional and alternative Egyptologist. Our guide Essam told us about an unusual technique using milk and water and heat. Stone masons drilled small holes into the granite and then cracked it using expanding wedges. Alan and I were astounded how many half-finished blocks of granite lay around the ruin field. On one block you could see the various stages of small holes and larger wedge holes used to crack granite blocks. There were precisely angled casing stones and one mind-boggling slightly curved granite slab which looked machine-cut....this slab has been features on several videos made up here, but it was the only one of its kind I saw. The wedge marks can certainly be seen on granite blocks within the walls of the pyramid indicating that they are in fact authentic and contemporary with construction or repair of Djedefre's pyramid.
In one area I saw regular scratch marks which hinted at a tool which would have had to have been swivelled back and forth to drill into the rock. One theory of how copper drill bits and saws were able to cut through hard stone is that flint shards were added to molten copper and cast to produce serrated edges. We saw veins of Flint running through the bedrock up here.
So what about the "starry tent?" Traditional Egyptology believes that a pronounced sun-cult began to replace the star cult around the time of Khufu or Djedefre ("Of Re's body or Re's son") and became state religion with Khafre who was long worshipped after his death....see Zahi Hawass'explanation of the Khafre cult. But I found a curious detail up there on Djedefre's mountain....when you look up the large gallery towards the sky, you are actually not looking due north. You are looking at the big dipper, that part of ursa major (Big Bear constellation) which the ancient Egyptians used to orient their temples....see Robert Bauval's book, "Imhotep the African, Architect of the Cosmos". The other curious aspect of this pyramid is that it aligned with the holy city of Iunu (Heliopolis). We can also see how the ancient Egyptians built pyramids at this time....they stared with a trench to hollow out a hillock and build the tomb chamber. Then they dressed the hillock with hewn stones and cased it. At Abu Rowash, we get an inkling how Khufu's Pyramid could have been built and how masons cracked open the hard granite slabs and shaped them into granite blocks. However, there remains the most important gap of all...what tools could predrill the holes and wedge marks we saw here today? How did they cut circles and curves into granite and above all how did they make these cut surfaces almost as smooth like the kitchen countertops we know today?
At this time, I would like to acknowledge out excellent team of guides: Maged, Essam, and Hesham our driver. We are driving in a white Van showing the company logo: Ya'llah Tours.