Egypt is the most researched ancient civilization in the world. Their technology and culture had so much to offer this generation, but we have never been able to figure it all out. Every time an archaeological discovery is made in the valley of the kings, more questions than answers come out. Researchers have had less than 1000 years to figure out a civilization that spanned vast deserts and expanded technology over four millennia. While some artifacts like the Rosetta stone have been studied and explained to near satisfaction, millions of questions till surround these amazing ancestors and these are the ten unsolved mysteries of ancient Egypt.
1. The Lost Labyrinth
The pyramids are fascinating and difficult to understand, let alone recreate. However, accounts of the father of history, Herodotus the Greek, who saw Labyrinth firsthand put even the pyramids to shame. A structure so complicated that visitors could not find their way around without a guide. He explained what felt like a maze, a construction that had 3 thousand rooms and covered with a one stone slab for a roof. The tale of two levels to the structure (one built underground) which had 12 gates each facing the other has guided the decades of both surface and underground scanning.
No one has found a substantial artifact that can support the description of the historian, but if such a building existed, it would be one of the most complex structures ever built by man. Throughout the six early historical centuries of 5 BC to 1 AD, trusted historians describe this structure that surpassed all the constructions of the Greeks, to be full of hierographic and paintings. In 2008, a team of Belgian and Egyptian researchers discovered a former temple site that they said met the description but confirming evidence has not been made. Maybe this structure holds all the answers to ancient Egypt.
2. The Unfinished Obelisk
There is an Obelisk in almost every major city today including London and Rome, but the roots are in Egypt. Of the eight known obelisks in Egypt, the largest one never left the ground. The 36m tall obelisk carved from solid granite would probably be the largest ever piece of rock lifted off the ground in Egypt. Cutting the stone from the bedrock meant chiseling away using small balls of dolerite, the only rock in Aswan harder than granite.
The efficiency of the cuts marked with ochre lines is still visible on Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s obelisk. He was the fifth in the 18th Dynasty who ruled between 1508 and 1458 BC. The rock was abandoned after the better half of the work was done, the exact reason has never been explained. While some people attest it to the crack in granite, some say the departure was violent because lines were already drawn for further breaking. Well, maybe the pharaoh only wanted an underground obelisk for a change.
3. The Sphinx Claws in Israel
Pharaoh Mycerinus ruled Egypt about 2500 BC and built one of the three great pyramids at Giza, but his mysteries did not end there. In 2013, a group of archeologists at the UNESCO heritage site in Tel Hazor Israel unearthed the claws of a sphinx with his name inscribed on it. Hazor was the central city connecting Egypt to the trading zone of Babylon. It was technically not a viable foe to conquer Egypt because it had only 20,000 people, but somehow, the city ended up with the Pharaoh’s most trusted protector in death. The Sphynx is believed to have been 1 meter high and weighing at least half a ton. There is no explanation as to why it was broken after being transported over such a long distance. The Sphynx is the only one ever linked to one particular Pharaoh, and it is believed to hold lots of secrets about the actual nature of relations between the two mighty kingdoms.
4. The Mysteries of King Tut
Howard Carter, the British archeologist, discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922 making it the most significant discovery in the valley of the kings. The boy king was only 19 when he died in 1323 BC, and his successors did an excellent job erasing his legacy which prevented tomb robbers from locating his resting place. After Carter’s discovery, something became apparent, there was nothing similar between the facts surrounding King Tut and the other Pharaohs. First, his body had burnt after being mummified leading to speculation of botched mummification, but that has not been confirmed. The king had also died from mysterious injuries and was missing a heart.
Because of the scrapped records, Tutankhamun’s ancestry was also put in question pointing to a possible missed royal family. He had a bad left leg and lots of physical disabilities which probably prevented him from riding chariots but somehow, he died from a chariot injury. His skull was also broken. Sadly, none of these questions have been answered, but the boy king remains the most popular of all the pharaohs throughout the years.
5. The Dendera Light
Did the Egyptians have electricity? Yes, the very electricity discovered thousands of years after the fall of the empire! Electricity has been linked to ancient Mesopotamians and Greeks through other artifacts such as the Baghdad battery, and the Egyptians seem to have had an advanced one at that. Well, the truth lies somewhere behind the Temple of Hathor the goddess of sunlight. The chamber in which the artifact was found had no lamp stands, raising the speculation that there may have been some source of energy to light up that room. Zeichnung Garn-Birne is the engineer famed for creating a working model of the light of the pharaohs which is the actual artifact from the temple. The appearance of the drawings resembled what looks like a sizeable modern-day light bulb although scientists still say there may be some explanation to it. So far, Hathor seems to have been the first source of electricity on the planet.
6. The Disappearance of Queen Nefertiti
She was the most powerful woman in ancient Egypt, although she was not born in a royal family. Her name, Nefertiti, means ‘the beautiful woman has come’ and speculation of her ancestry places her in Mitanni kingdom of Nothern Syria. Together with her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten, they changed Egyptian culture a big deal including a change for Aten the sun god from Amon and Ra. After her husband’s death, she took the pharaoh’s seat on what is speculated as regency for King Tut. Her glittering details, however, disappear during the 17th year of her husband’s reign. She is believed to have changed name and moved away from her husband’s political changes, but the truth about her fate is not known. In 1913, archeologists found the sculpture of Nefertiti, but that is all that is known of her. She was wiped from the records, making her the lost queen of Egypt.
7. The Great
Sphynx of Giza
When Napoleon visited Egypt in 1789, the image he described of the Sphynx was that of the head only showing just how much of the hidden beast was unknown. It is the largest artifact ever from an ancient dynasty measuring over 70 meters long and standing over 20 meters high. It is believed to be the great protector of the pharaohs after their burial, but the Sphinx has more questions than answers. The signs of erosion on the structure point to a period of heavy rains which have not rained in Egypt for over 9000 years. If the erosion points to the beginning of the pharaohs, then historians are very wrong about Egypt. The limestone beast has been lying under sand for most of its life although one pharaoh built a wall to cover it after getting a dream that the sand was choking the Sphinx. It is not known why it was built and who built it for that matter, but its power is equated to that of a god.
8. Pharaoh Akhenaten
Akhenaten is a well-documented pharaoh, but the amount of controversy surrounding him is more than any other Pharaoh in the golden age. He was depicted as a woman-like figure with a more natural expression than any Pharaoh before him. While some people think he was a woman, others believe it was a set of feminine genes acquired at birth. Akhenaten is the father of King Tut and also the husband of Nefertiti. He, however, had other wives by whom his sons were born. He changed Egypt from the worship of Amun-Ra to the worship of Aten the sun god, leading to the speculation that he may be the Moses of the old testament. His burial site has not been identified either after records associated him with three different burial sites. The anti-Aten revolt after his death is also linked to his disappearance because many people considered him a heretic. Whoever he was, Akhenaten is a mystery that lies at the root of 14th century Egypt.
9. The Destroyed Pyramid
The three great pyramids at Giza, Khufu, Menkaure and Khafre are one of the fascinating wonders of the world, but these were not all the pyramids. Historians told of the tale of the beautiful pyramid of Djedefre. It was made of stone blacker and shinier than granite and finished by a yellow stone. Its measurements were equated to Menkaure the smallest of the three. It was a shocker, I mean who would miss a whole pyramid!
The mystery was solved when the site of the pyramid was located at Abu Rawash and described to fit the description of the fourth pyramid. There were unanswered questions though. For example, who destroyed the pyramid? The common answer was the Romans, but no evidence can back this because those stones have not been located anywhere else. The site was also seen to have unfinished foundations, suggesting that it was possibly an unfinished pyramid. Either way, we still seem to be missing a whole pyramid down there.
10. The Mummy in the Foreign Book
After Napoleon launched an army to turn Egypt apart for artifacts, Egyptian artifacts became very precious, and this is how Mihajlo Baric happened to buy one on his trip to Alexandria. He found the mummy wrapped in a piece of linen with strange writings and put the scripts in a glass while the mummy decorated his house. When the mummy finally reached the museum in Zagreb, Egyptologists identified the script as Etruscan. It was a history changer because this language was used by an ancient empire in Italy which came before the Romans.
The writings were not fully interpreted, but the message was identified as dates and gods suggesting an old Etruscan burial procedure. The first explanation was that this woman was a traveler who escaped to Egypt from the Roman invasion, but a papyrus script buried with the mummy had her name as Nesi-Hensu, an Egyptian. There is utterly no way to explain how that piece of linen reached Egypt, but it is the most substantial text of Etruscan ever discovered in the world. At least one part of the mystery was revealed.