Mysteries of Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptian civilisation has captured the imagination of many people in different times and from different philosophical viewpoints and some fairly incredible claims have been made regarding their origins and the extent of their knowledge. Please Email Ancient Egypt Online if you have any theories that you would like us to investigate.

Building and Technology

What are the “air shafts” in the Great Pyramid of Giza?

Perhaps it is not surprising that there are a huge number of rather speculative theories regarding the meaning and function of the pyramids, and in particular the Great Pyramid of Giza. One of the most mysterious features of the Great Pyramid is the four shafts built into the body of the pyramid; two emanating from the “Kings Chamber” and two from the “Queens Chamber”.

Although they are commonly referred to as “air shafts” their true meaning is the subject of much speculation. So what are the “air shafts” in the Great Pyramid ?

Who built the Nabta Playa stone circle?

The stones of the Nabta Playa circle as replicated at the Aswan Museum (copyright Raymbetz)

In the Sahara Desert, west of Abu Simbel, archaeologists found a stone circle and a number of other megalithic structures which they believe were constructed by Neolithic People around seven hundred years ago. However, the precise alignments of the stones, and their purpose, have been the subject of much speculation.

Some have suggeted that they represent a map of the stars at around 17500 BC and may have been constructed with the knowledge gleaned from Aliens. So, who built the Nabta Playa Stone Circle?.

Did the Ancient Egyptians understand electricity?

Some writers have suggested that a carving in the temple of Hathor at Denderah depicts an ancient light bulb. They suggest that this proves that the Ancient Egyptians had an understanding of electricity. Is the Denderah Light Bulb proof the Egyptians understood electricity?

Famous Egyptians

Who was the pharaoh of the Exodus?

One of the most famous, and contentious, stories about Ancient Egypt is that of the Exodus of the Jewish people. The Bible story is rejected in its entirety by some commentators, while others try to interpret Ancient Egyptian history to fit the biblical tale. Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus from Egypt?

The parting of the Red Sea

The story of the Exodus of the Israelites includes the parting of the Red Sea by Moses, but even those who accept that the exodus is historical fact have pointed to alternative translations of this section of the tale. Did Moses part the Red Sea?

Who were the Hyksos?

During the second intermediate period the Hyksos had a profound effect on ancient Egypt. Referred to by Manetho as a “blast of God” they are often claimed to have been scornful of the Egyptian gods. Yet contemporary evidence suggests that they adopted many Egyptian customs and may not have simply been a band of armed raiders.

Who was Smenkhare?

Smenkhare and Meritaten

The events following the death of Akhenaten have been the source of much speculation and many outlandish theories. Was Ankhkheperure Smenkhkare Djeser Kheperu actually Nefertiti in male garb, or a short lived male co-regent of Akhenaten. If the latter, what was his relationship to Akhenaten and Tutankhamun? Was he the ill-fated Zannanza, a Hittite prince despatched to Egypt in response to the Letter to King Suppiluliuma by an unnamed Egyptian Queen.

Curse of Tutankhamun’s tomb

Since the death of Earl Carnarvon, there have been persistent stories about the curse of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The legend has been the basis of at least one movie and numerous books. Was there a curse on Tutankhamun’s tomb?

Was Tutankhamun murdered?

Tutankhamun’s mummy has been x-rayed on three separate occasions but controversy still rages regarding the cause of death of the young king. Was Tutankhamun murdered?

Cleopatra: Strong, Intelligent Politician or Manipulative Seductress?

Cleopatra is often depicted as an incredibly beautiful woman who manipulated and seduced powerful men. Her detractors paint her as a harlot, but other contemporary sources describe her as charming and intelligent. Was Cleopatra beautiful and what do we know of Cleopatra’s character?


When did the Old Kingdom start and finish?

The term “Old Kingdom” is a modern invention which would have meant little to the ancient Egyptians themselves. Still, it is useful to break the huge span of Egyptian history into more manageable sections and in doing so characterise each period. However, there is some debate as to whether the Old kingdom should start with the third dynasty or the fourth dynasty and whether it ended at the end of the sixth dynasty or with the demise of the eighth dynasty. What are the dates of the Old Kingdom?

Was the First Intermediate Period a “Dark Age”?

The period at the end of the Old Kingdom known as the First Intermediate Period was long considered to be a low point in Egyptian history when centralised control broke down leaving civil war, famine and poverty in its wake. However, this characterisation of the period has been questioned by modern scholars who have pointed out that the increase in regional power may not have been entirely negative, and in fact that local diversity may have enriched Egyptian culture. Was the First Intermediate Period a “Dark Age”?

Copyright J Hill 2010