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1 2.8 Primary and Secondary Sources We have compared the way a historian works to the way a detective works. The main difference between detectives and historians is the evidence they work with. Detectives look for witnesses and question them. In history this is not often possible. You cannot talk to a witness of William of Orange s assassination in 1584 they are all dead. SOURCE A The temple of Abu Simbel, built by pharaoh Ramesses II between about 1285 bc and 1265 bc. Historians have to collect their information from clues that survive. They call these clues sources, and there are two main types. Primary sources come from the time the historian is studying. Some primary sources for the First World War would be: letters and diaries written by soldiers, their uniforms and their weapons. Even if a nurse in a hospital in France during the war wrote her memories of the war much later, they are still a primary source. Secondary sources do not come directly from the events they discuss. They are based on other sources. Books about the First World War by historians, or school textbooks about the First World War, are examples of secondary sources. Not all sources are written. Buildings, archaeological remains, paintings and objects are all valuable sources. There is more to knowing the difference between a primary and secondary source than knowing when it was made. Look at Source A. It is a photograph of the Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel, taken in In the 1960s the Egyptian government decided to build the Aswan High Dam to control the flooding of the Nile. The dam would create a lake, Lake Nasser. Many Ancient Egyptian sites would be flooded. So the government moved some important monuments to places above the water level of Lake Nasser. Between 1964 and 1968 the temple of Abu Simbel was cut into thousands of stone blocks and moved 65m higher and 180m back from the old river. They built an artificial hill to set the temple in. SOURCE B A book first published in So, in a way, Source A was made in either 2002 (when the photo was taken) or 1968 (when the temple was moved). But the photograph is just a way of looking at the building: the building is the source. The rebuilt temple is not a copy of the original. It is the original moved, and rebuilt exactly as it was. When we look at Source A, we are looking at a temple built by Ramesses II, finished about 1265 bc. It is a primary source for studying Ancient Egypt. It is also a primary source for a historian studying twentieth-century engineering. This is important. You have to know what you are studying before you can decide if a source is primary or secondary.

2 SOURCE C A book first published in SOURCE D The Bent Pyramid of Sneferu, so called because it changes angles about halfway up. Built some time between 2613 bc-2589 bc. SOURCE E A school book first published in SOURCE F An artist s reconstruction from a school textbook. This is the ceremony called the opening of the mouth. It was performed on a mummy in its case outside the chapel by the tomb before burial. SOURCE E A painting from the tomb of Ramose, Governor of Thebes in about 1336 bc. Servants carry things into his tomb. 41

3 2.9 The Pyramids In 2648 bc, the pharaoh Djoser was buried in a new spectacular kind of tomb, a pyramid. The pyramid was at Saqqara, near the capital city of Memphis (see map on page 26). It had been rising steadily from the ground for about 40 years. It was built in a series of steps. Soon, architects had worked out how to build smooth-sided pyramids. Until 1525 bc, all pharaohs were buried in pyramids. Family members and important officials were buried nearby, and there were chapels to leave offerings to the pharaohs, too. The most powerful pharaohs had huge stone pyramids. The least powerful pharaohs had small, mud brick pyramids, most of which have not survived to today. How were they built? First, priests studied the stars and chose a good place to build the pyramid. Then they made sure the ground was perfectly flat. Stone had to be cut in quarries and sailed up as close to the pyramid site as possible, often during the inundation. The workers moved the stones on sledges, dragged by animals. They shaped the stones at the pyramid site with copper tools. They built up the pyramid layer by layer. The workers used an earth ramp to work from once they were above ground level. The outside stones were limestone and were polished until they shone. In most pyramids the pharaoh was buried underground. The pyramid itself was a solid block on the top. The limestone blocks of stone on the outside were so perfectly carved that they fitted together exactly. Inside, the stones were more roughly joined together. In places, there were large gaps in the stones that were filled with sand or chipped stone. Which is the tallest Giza pyramid? The tallest pyramid at Giza is not, in fact, the pyramid that looks the tallest. The tallest pyramid is the one at the back is Source B. It was built first, for the pharaoh Khufu. The pyramid that looks the tallest was built for Khufu s son, Khafre. He had his pyramid built on slightly higher ground, so that it looked taller. Shining gold The tops of the pyramids were often covered with a layer of gold. This shone brightly in the sun. It has led some historians to suggest that the shape of the pyramid is a symbol of the rays of the sun. We cannot know for sure. SOURCE A 42 The Step Pyramid of King Djoser (behind) and the Pyramid of Userkaf (2487 bc). Userkaf s pyramid had its outer covering of stones taken away to be reused. The inner core of the pyramid was not as well built as the outside.

4 Pyramid facts The biggest pyramid is the one built for Khufu at Giza. It is 146 m high. It took about 20 years to build. The base of Khufu s pyramid covered about 5.25 hectares (about 200 tennis courts joined together). It is an almost perfect square, and the ground is perfectly level. Khufu s pyramid was made from 2.3 million stone blocks. The average weight of a block was 2.5 tons. There were some much bigger blocks. Some weighed 15 tons. The most unusual pyramid is the bent pyramid, at Dahshur. It was one of two built for the Old Kingdom pharaoh Sneferu. This was an early smooth-sided pyramid. The builders miscalculated the angle they needed to build at. After about ten years they realised that the sides were too steep. They were building at an angle of just over 54. If they kept on at the same angle, the pyramid would collapse. Rather than waste all their years of work, the builders simply changed the angle to just over 43. This worked. The pyramid is still standing. SOURCE B The pyramids at Giza. The nearest is Menkaura (2503 bc), then Khafra (2532 bc) then Khufu (2566 bc). 43

5 2.10 The Valley of the Kings Pyramids were hard to get into, but still grave robbers succeeded. The valuable grave goods made it worth the dangers involved. So from 1550 bc, the pharaohs used a new burial system: tombs dug into the rocky cliffs in the Valley of the Kings. Their families were buried in the next valley, the Valley of the Queens. Important officials were buried in the hill between these valleys. All the tombs were beautifully painted. The paintings show the tomb owner with the gods, or living a perfect life in the Fields of Iaru. They were also filled with beautiful, valuable grave goods too. Soldiers guarded the area, but it was hard to guard. Most tombs were robbed in ancient times. Only the paintings are still there. The only pharaoh s tomb with any grave goods left was that of Tutankhamun. The tombs in the Valley of the Kings area were built for the most important people, so they are large and beautifully decorated. A special village, Deir el-medina (often just called Deir) was built for the people who worked on the tombs. Deir is one of the few ancient Egyptian villages we can study. Most villages were built and re-built several times. However, Deir was left alone because it was not on farmland by the River Nile. It was in the desert, near the tombs. Two chief workmen organised workers to dig out, carve and decorate the tombs. They also organised the workers who made all the grave goods. The tomb painters worked in the dark, deep underground. How did they manage to produce such beautiful, detailed paintings? Part of the tomb of an official called Sennefer, built on the hill overlooking the Valley of the Kings. SOURCE A 44

6 SOURCE B A modern artist s reconstruction of tomb painters at work. SOURCE C This unfinished wall painting from the Tomb of Horemheb shows how the painters worked. The first sketches are in red. They are corrected in black. The black outline is carved out, then the wall is covered with a chalk and water mix to paint on. SOURCE D Written so the pharaoh can order the governor of Thebes to send everything we need to continue work on the tomb: yellow ochre gum [to mix the colours, which were mostly made from ground-up rock] orpiment [a different yellow] red ochre realger [a different red] blue frit green frit fat for burning old cloth for wicks. Part of a letter from one of the chief workmen, asking for more supplies. 45

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