I don’t want to think about Brexit. And I bet you don’t want to either.
So instead I’ll think about the Pyramids of Egypt.
First, they all have long causeways, with stone embankments, leading away from them, sloping down towards the river Nile from the raised Giza plateau.
Second, they all have large internal chambers and tunnels.
Third, less well known, is that they have a maze of tunnels deep beneath them.
A vast network of underground chambers and water tunnels have been discovered beneath several of the world’s most well-known pyramids, including the Great Pyramid on Egypt’s Giza Plateau.
Fourthly, all the pyramids – including the earliest Step Pyramid of Djoser to the south, which also has shafts and tunnels beneath it – are located on the west bank of the Nile, just south of the fertile Nile delta.
Fifth, the Sahara desert, which extends for hundreds of miles to the west, was several thousand years ago a fertile land covered with rivers and lakes and plants and animals. But it gradually dried up, leaving the desert we see today. But there remains a lot of water under the Sahara, some of which can be seen at the various oases (e.g. Siwa) dotted across it.
As the Sahara dried out, the Nile remained the only river flowing through a dry and barren land. The Nile was a river which regularly flooded, and it was these floods which allowed its flood plains to cultivate crops.
But sometimes the Nile floods failed, and when that happened there was famine (and perhaps also drought) in Egypt. So another source of water was used: the water deep under the Sahara desert. The Egyptians built artesian wells to bring it to the surface.
An artesian well is simply a well that doesn’t require a pump to bring water to the surface; this occurs when there is enough pressure in the aquifer. The pressure forces the water to the surface without any sort of assistance.
The earliest natural artesian well in Egypt may have been at Siwa, which has a large natural rock plateau, applying pressure to the ground;
The pyramids of Giza may have been copies of the Siwa “pyramid”, and applied pressure to the ground to force up water from below. It was like squeezing a damp sponge. This water rose up through a network of tunnels and shafts to the surface, where it flowed out into the causeways to reservoirs or the river below.
As water was pumped out of the ground, and the water table below slowly fell, more and more pressure was needed to bring up water. So more and more rocks were added to the pyramids above, and pyramids rose higher and higher, and got heavier and heavier.
The first pyramids were probably quite small, because not much pressure needed to be applied to the ground to force up water. But as the water table fell, bigger and bigger, and heavier and heavier pyramids were needed. Giza was somehow or other a place where there was (and still is) a lot of underground water.
The pyramids probably also had to have stopcocks and safety valves to stop water flowing out of them when there was plenty of water in the Nile, and pyramid water wasn’t needed. Hence the elaborate chambers in the pyramids.
Pyramids might also have been dismantled and rebuilt. When one pyramid ran dry, the Egyptians simply carried the rocks away, and re-erected them elsewhere. This is why there are several pyramids that have vanished (e.g. Abu Rawash).
One notable fact about the pyramid at Abu Rawash is that the upper most part of the pyramid has seemingly disappeared, revealing the internal passage that runs down into the bedrock. Explanations to why this pyramid is missing its top vary. The second point of interest that this pyramid provides is that it is built on top of a hillock.
Eventually, perhaps after many hundreds of years, these artesian well pyramids stopped working, and the pyramid building era came to an end (perhaps in the reign of the Pharaoh Unas, the causeway of whose pyramid is shown below).
The chaotic First Intermediate Period in Egyptian history followed shortly after the reign of Unas. Perhaps this was because the pyramids ceased working, and famine and drought returned to Egypt.
Wasn’t that better than Brexit?