The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids that still stands in Egypt’s El Giza complex, and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built over a period of roughly 20 years, the colossal structure was sanctioned under the ruler of the fourth dynasty – Khufu – whose body was never found. For years archaeologists have tussled with conspiracy theorists, who wildly claim the advanced technology needed to build these pyramids must have come from out-of-this-world.
On Friday, Mr Musk appeared to support the ludicrous claims, when he tweeted “aliens built the pyramids obv,” which quickly prompted a response from Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Rania al-Mashat.
She said: “I follow your work with a lot of admiration. I invite you and SpaceX to explore the writings about how the pyramids were built and also to check out the tombs of the pyramid builders.”
Egyptians built pyramids thousands of years ago, mostly to serve as tombs for their pharaohs, but some give aliens credit for building them due to the bizarre carvings and inscriptions found inside, and their astronomical configuration – which is said to line up perfectly with Orion’s Belt.
However, historian Bettany Hughes revealed during her Channel 4 show “The Nile: Egypt’s Great River” how these wild claims were put to bed.
She said: “The Great Pyramid took two decades to complete, with its original polished, white limestone casing, it would have gleamed out in the Egyptian Sun.
“Exactly who built it, and how, has been the subject of wild speculation for centuries.
“It’s been said that this was built by aliens from outer space.
“But, thank goodness, some new historical evidence has appeared that tells us, without a doubt, that this pyramid was made by humans.”
The Diary of Merer is the name for the papyrus logbooks discovered in 2013 by a French mission under the direction of Pierre Tallet in a cave near Wadi al-Jarf.
The text is written with hieroglyphs and hieratic and tells the story of Merer, a middle-ranking official with the title “inspector”, who helped transport limestone needed for the Great Pyramid.
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“Here there is a little line that tells us that the limestone blocks that cover the pyramid, that made it that amazing gleaming white, were brought from 15 miles along the Nile.
“Merer says it takes one day’s sail for this special stone to reach the site, confirming the Nile’s crucial role in the pyramid construction.”
Mr Musk’s tweet on Friday has racked up more than 86,000 retweets and 540,000 likes.
He later appeared to take the claim back in a follow up social media post linking to an article describing how the pyramids were more likely built by humans living in an Egyptian settlement.
He added: “This BBC article provides a sensible summary for how it was done,” linking to a story with the headline ‘The Private Lives of the Pyramid-builders’.
But Egyptologist Zahi Hawass delivered a video response affirming that aliens were in no way involved.
He said: “What you said about the pyramids is completely hallucination, the pyramids are built by Egyptians.
“I found the tombs of the pyramid’s builders that tell everyone that the builders of the pyramids are Egyptians and they were not slaves.”