Check your U.S. voter registration status or register to vote here.

Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass: Dr. Ben Carson “Completely Wrong” that the Egyptian Pyramids were Used to Store Grain

Todd Zwillich
Nov 8, 2015 · 3 min read

Dr. Zahi Hawass is the world’s most recognizable Egyptologist and Egypt’s former Minister of Antiquities. He has excavated ancient sites at Giza, is the author of dozens of books on Egyptology and the pyramids and has appeared in dozens of documentary films and TV shows on Egyptian antiquity. I spoke with Dr Hawass by phone on Sunday, November 8, 2015.

Dr. Hawass, have you heard the statements about the pyramids being used to store grain and the controversy here in the United States?

Yes I have.

What Ben Carson said is completely wrong. There is plenty of evidence that it is wrong, and it is wrong for the following reasons:

1. The Canaanites did not come to Egypt until the Middle Kingdom. They have nothing…not one thing…to do with the Old Kingdom.

2. We as Egyptologists and archaeologists have all the evidence that the pyramids were made as tombs, simply because there are pieces of the bodies of the dynastic Kings named Zoser (Djoser) and Menkaure, the builder of the first pyramids, at Giza. The pieces from their bodies — from their mummies — -were found in those pyramids.

3. If you look at the Valley of the Kings and you look at the tombs of pyramids from the New Kingdoms, you find extensive, exhaustive writing that says plainly what they were for. They were tombs.

If the pyramids were made to store grain, why do we have in Egypt 123 pyramids for kings and queens? If they were used for grain, Egyptologists and archaeologists would have excavated this at least once. They have not.

What about claims that the pyramid builders were Canaanite or Hebrew slaves?

I discovered the tombs of the pyramid builders at Giza that showed that the builders were Egyptians. The builders were not slaves. They were buried near the pyramids themselves, and of all the many names of builders that were found inside the tombs of the builders, there is not one name of a Canaanite, not one at all.

Have you heard Dr. Carson’s theory before?

The theory from this man is not new it has been said before. Almost every time I walk through the pyramids I meet a visitor who wants to talk about this theory. A Canadian director came once to make a film to prove the grain theory.

There are hundreds of theories about the function of the pyramids in America. Some people believe aliens. Some people believe Atlantis. All of these are completely wrong. We have excavated around the sites and in the sites and it proves that what this man says is completely wrong. I want to say: There is not one piece of evidence to show that it is correct.

The pyramids were solely to represent the power and the dignity of the Pharaohs. And there is every piece of evidence to prove it.

Does it frustrate you when you hear theories like this from well known people?

No. I’ve written hundreds of books. I hear theories like this all the time. When I hear them, I just laugh. This man wants to use it for publicity in his campaign because it references the Bible and people will believe it. But what happens in the Bible and in the Old Testament happened in the Middle Kingdom. It had nothing at all to do with the Old Kingdom and nothing to do with the pyramids.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store