Forget the myths about massive numbers of slaves or Jews building the great pyramids, Egypt‘s chief archaeologist argues this week. He says Egyptian researchers have found the tombs of more pyramid builders, and in those tombs more evidence that free men erected these monumental tributes to the ancient pharaohs.
Zahi Hawass this week unveiled new research on 4,000-year-old tombs found near the pyramids—tombs he says belonged to pyramid builders. Graves of the pyramid builders were first discovered in the area in 1990 when a tourist on horseback stumbled over a wall that later proved to be a tomb [Canadian Press]. These new ones stretch beyond those previously-discovered tombs, and contain a dozen skeletons.
What matters for the historical interpretation, Hawass stressed, is location, location, location. “These tombs were built beside the king’s pyramid, which indicates that these people were not by any means slaves,” said Mr Hawass. “If they were slaves, they would not have been able to build their tombs beside their king’s” [The Times]. In addition, Hawass says that the walls of the tombs (which the builders probably built for themselves) bear graffiti like “friends of Khufu (a pharaoh).”
1. A tower in Dubai that opens today has earned the title of world’s tallest building with a height of 2,717 feet (828 meters). That’s more than half a mile high. Actually, it grabbed that title during construction back in July 2007 when it passed Taipei 101, which stands 500 meters tall.
2. Until its official opening today, the building’s exact height was a closely held secret known by only a few people. The building’s architects, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings, and Merril, speculated last week that someone might try to steal the thunder from the big announcement by measuring the building’s shadow to figure out its height.
3. The opening ceremony included another surprise. The tower, which had been known as the Burj Dubai, was renamed the Burj Khalifa, in honor of Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi. The last-minute switch carries a symbolic weight in light of the billions of dollars oil-rich Abu Dhabi has poured into Dubai in order to cover its debts [The New York Times].
4. The Burj is not only the tallest building in the world, it’s also home to the highest observation deck, swimming pool, elevator, restaurant, and fountain in the world.
When Chicago’s Sears Tower was completed in 1973 the 110-story building was the tallest in the world, and it offered a bold example of the human potential to build towards the clouds. Now, although the tower lost the title of tallest building to other skyscrapers in the 1990s, the tower hopes to dazzle the world anew with a fresh vision of urban architecture: The building will soon receive a $350 million environmental retrofit, with wind turbines, solar panels, and gardens all added to the building’s staggered rooftops.
The 5-year project would reduce the tower’s electricity use by 80 percent and save 24 million gallons of water a year, building owners and architects said…. “Our plans are very ambitious,” said John Huston of American Landmark Properties, who represents the building ownership. “Our plans to modernize and transform this icon will re-establish Sears Tower as a leader, a pioneer” [AP].