In Cairo the biggest deal is, of course, the Pyramids. And were we in luck on that score! You know the guy always on CNN whenever they do a story on mummies or anything old in Egypt-- Dr. Zahi Hawass? Well, one of the musicians, Andy Paley, in a band on Sire Records, where I used to work, was friends with some well-known American Egyptologist, a Rockefeller no less, and through this guy we had an introduction to Dr. Hawass, then Governor of the Pyramids (now Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities). This turned out to be a golden key to the most amazing visit to the Pyramids imaginable.
Dr. Hawass treated us to a tour usually reserved for heads of state. He literally closed down the Great Pyramid and made everyone else wait while we had it to ourselves! It's pretty awesome. Most things don't live up to expectations; that one did. He said we could sleep in it if we wanted to. We didn't at the time but now I'm sorry we didn't take him up on it. We didn't climb any pyramids... We didn't because a U.S. marine climbed up and fell off and died; so it's forbidden now. Afterwards he showed us a small, locked up pyramid that no one is allowed in except Charles De Gaulle and other people they wanted to impress. They don't want general traffic in there because of breathing. Next door they had a little museum with an ancient ship with a bunch of mummified pharaoh's servants on it. The Sphinx, on the other hand, was covered in scaffolding and seemed to be crumbling into the sand. Roland claims they were injecting silicon into it.
Well, thanks to Republican crank Ben Carson the pyramids have been in the news this week... and so has Doctor Hawass, explaining how Carson is "completely wrong" about his crackpot theory that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain (which, of course, Carson is standing by). Todd Zwillich of PRI called Dr. Hawass yesterday and interviewed him
Dr. Hawass, have you heard the statements about the pyramids being used to store grain and the controversy here in the United States?
Yes I have.
What Ben Carson said is completely wrong. There is plenty of evidence that it is wrong, and it is wrong for the following reasons:
1. The Canaanites did not come to Egypt until the Middle Kingdom. They have nothing… not one thing… to do with the Old Kingdom.
2. We as Egyptologists and archaeologists have all the evidence that the pyramids were made as tombs, simply because there are pieces of the bodies of the dynastic Kings named Zoser (Djoser) and Menkaure, the builder of the first pyramids, at Giza. The pieces from their bodies-- from their mummies-- were found in those pyramids.
3. If you look at the Valley of the Kings and you look at the tombs of pyramids from the New Kingdoms, you find extensive, exhaustive writing that says plainly what they were for. They were tombs.
If the pyramids were made to store grain, why do we have in Egypt 123 pyramids for kings and queens? If they were used for grain, Egyptologists and archaeologists would have excavated this at least once. They have not.
What about claims that the pyramid builders were Canaanite or Hebrew slaves?
I discovered the tombs of the pyramid builders at Giza that showed that the builders were Egyptians. The builders were not slaves. They were buried near the pyramids themselves, and of all the many names of builders that were found inside the tombs of the builders, there is not one name of a Canaanite, not one at all.
Have you heard Dr. Carson’s theory before?
The theory from this man is not new it has been said before. Almost every time I walk through the pyramids I meet a visitor who wants to talk about this theory. A Canadian director came once to make a film to prove the grain theory.
There are hundreds of theories about the function of the pyramids in America. Some people believe aliens. Some people believe Atlantis. All of these are completely wrong. We have excavated around the sites and in the sites and it proves that what this man says is completely wrong. I want to say: There is not one piece of evidence to show that it is correct.
The pyramids were solely to represent the power and the dignity of the Pharaohs. And there is every piece of evidence to prove it.
Does it frustrate you when you hear theories like this from well known people?
No. I’ve written hundreds of books. I hear theories like this all the time. When I hear them, I just laugh. This man wants to use it for publicity in his campaign because it references the Bible and people will believe it. But what happens in the Bible and in the Old Testament happened in the Middle Kingdom. It had nothing at all to do with the Old Kingdom and nothing to do with the pyramids.