If Ben Carson isn’t sure who built the pyramids or why — all he has to do is ask the ancient Egyptians.
The Republican presidential candidate repeated his claim that Joseph, an Israelite, built the pyramids to store grain, saying that’s what he learned from reading the Bible.
But the Egyptians, who are credited with building the pyramids by basically every mainstream scholar in the world, left a detailed written record of when, how and why the pyramids were built — and by whom.
The ancient African people etched funerary inscriptions on the walls of nine Fifth and Sixth Dynasty pyramids — which date to about 2350 B.C.E. — that were translated in 1952.
The Pyramid Texts, which most historians agree were composed up to 750 years earlier, describe the death, burial and afterlife of the pharaohs for whom the pyramids were built as tombs.
“Pyramids were definitely used as tombs,” said Deborah Sweeney, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University. “Burial equipment, such as sarcophagi, jewelry, mummies or mummy parts were found in some of them. The others were robbed in antiquity, or in a few cases the burial chambers are below the water table.”
The biblical account shows that Joseph, the youngest of 12 sons of the Jewish patriarch Jacob, advised the pharaoh to store surplus grain to prepare for a coming famine — but experts say the pyramids were highly unsuitable for that purpose.
“Pyramids are almost solid masonry,” Sweeney explained. “The amount of storage they offer, relative to their mass, is extremely small, which would make them a fairly poor choice for a large storage project.”
The pyramids were also built with a series of concealed entrances and blocked, sloping corridors to deter thieves — a design that would have been poorly suited to Egyptians trying to deposit or withdraw large amounts of foodstuff.
Besides, plenty of archaeological and written records exist showing that ancient Egyptians stored their grain in dome-shaped granaries.
There is no record that Israelites or Canaanites helped build the pyramids, which were first built about 5,000 years ago — or about 1,000 years before the first mention of Israelites by ancient Egyptians.
The pyramids are not specifically mentioned in the canonical Bible, although Israelite slaves may have helped build bricks for the smaller tombs constructed while in captivity during the so-called Middle Kingdom.
“The pyramids have no connection to the people of Israel or anything of the sort,” said Orly Goldwasser, an Egyptologist at the Hebrew University.