In Robert Temple's 1 book "Egyptian Dawn", the author exposes a series of problems with Egyptology that he found while exploring Egyptian temples and ruins. When he applied a technique called surface luminescence dating 2 to date stones of Menkaure's pyramid he found that they are too old; the pyramid couldn't have been built in Menkaure's lifetime.

Also when comparing the tomb of the last king of the Second Dynasty (which has impressively low technology applied to it) with the Pyramid of Djoser (the Step Pyramid, built by the first king of the Third Dynasty), there is a clear difference in technology. Such technology couldn't have evolved in the span of 20-30 years that separates them, says Temple.

I couldn't find any direct criticisms of this specific book, so my question is: are these real problems? Or is Temple speculating here? And if a respected dating technique indicates that some monuments and temples are too old, and if there are problems with the progression of technology from one dynasty to another, how come I can't find sources talking about it besides Temple?

1 Yes, he is the same guy who wrote a book about aliens coming from Sirius and bringing knowledge unavailable to normal humans, although Egyptian Dawn seems to be a more sober book.
2 First applied to ancient monuments by prof. Ioannis Liritzis, a Greek scientist.

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    Who says it couldn't have evolved in 20 years? Don't you think that we have experienced a lot of technological change in 20 years?
    – Ne Mo
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 16:23
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    Unless you happen to be an expert in the field yourself, my suggestion would be to pay 0 attention to any such claims until you hear them from a reputable source. Life's too short to run around cleaning up all the intellectual trash being thrown by all the crackpots in the world.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 16:47
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    What exactly does the age of a piece of stone have to do with the age of a structure built with it?
    – user207421
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 4:49
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    @EJP The method does not measure the age of the stone, it measures the last time that the stone was hit with sunlight. Probably the last time was when it was placed on the structure, so by measuring this we can have a fair idea of how old the structure is.
    – James Cook
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 10:37

2 Answers 2


Robert Temple has zero credibility in archaeology. He's written multiple ancient-astronaut books, one of the quotes on his web page about his books is from an author of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, and his page about Egyptian Dawn includes these points:

  • Exposing faked evidence which has been credulously accepted by the Egyptological community.
  • Revealing who really built the pyramids

These are sure signs of a pseudo-archeologist. He also makes use of one of the basic techniques of pseudo-archaeology: failing to understand margins of error. The Step Pyramid of Djoser is approximately 4,700 years old. No absolute dating method, of which luminescence dating is an example, is accurate to 20 years in 4,700. His claim that the period is only 20 years is thus unsupported.

There's a simple reason that you haven't found any reviews or counter-arguments to Temple online. He has no credibility, and nobody with any knowledge of the field believes anything he writes. Responding to him, even to say that he's talking utter rubbish, would risk making him more credible. It's worse than fiction because people know that they shouldn't believe fiction. This stuff actively spreads wrong ideas.

"Speculating" would be a favourable description of what he's doing here. "Sensationalising" would be more accurate. He's taking a margin of error in dating, and a missing step in building, and using it to support some more fantastic theory. This is the way pseudo-archeologists work. They take a number of possibly reasonable questions, interpret them selectively, and use them as "evidence" to make a wild idea seem plausible.

  • I might have stated it wrongly. We conventionally attribute the Step Pyramid to Djoser's time, and the tomb I mentioned to the king that came right before him. The problem is that this tomb has only rough rocks, that don't seem to have been polished at all, and the amount of stones in it is very small, in comparison to the giant Step Pyramid. As the difference in age of the two buildings (by our commonly accepted dynasty timeline) is approximately 20-30 years, the gap there is pretty huge, technology wise, in a small period of time.
    – James Cook
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 1:42
  • The dating method used by the author has a fairly large margin of error (a total of some 1000 years). The problem is that by that method even the most recent date possible is too old for the pyramid to have been built in Menkaure's lifetime. As I said in the original question, the author could be considered very controversial, but this specific book does not (at least until now, I haven't finished it). I'm not after an argument from authority, and it might have been better just to omit the author's name for imparciality's sake.
    – James Cook
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 1:49
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    Take a look at this Commodore 64 computer from 1982. It ran at 1MHz and had 64kb of RAM. Now look at this modern computer, which runs at over 1GHz and has 64Gb RAM. As the difference in age of the two computers is only 35 years, the gap there is pretty huge, technology wise, in a small period of time. 35 years and CPU speed has increased a thousand-fold and RAM size a million-fold. Amazing. Have we all been deceived into thinking that the C64 really did come out in 1982, or is it so primitive that we have to conclude that it is really a WW2 or even a Victorian-era product?
    – Robert Columbia
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 3:01
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    We have evolved a lot technologically in the last 20-30 years, but that evolution is based on over 200 years of Industrial Revolution, and there is visible progress to it. I agree that a lot can be done in 35 years, but the problem in this specific case is that there is no progression to be seen: we did not find (yet) any intermediate steps between the two buildings (as far as I know).
    – James Cook
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 10:35
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    @JúlioZampietro One important possibility is that the intermediate steps are in the buildings themselves; with constructions so massive and that took so many works, the experience in building the first one produces solutions and techniques that are of application for the following one (v.g. you need a method for raising the blocks to a high altitude for the first building, once you develop that method you can planifiy the next building to be higher). A good example are Cathedrals, many of them are a mix of different styles and construction methods in the same building.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 2:20

I'm not sure why the books referenced would have anything to do with the actual age of the Pyramids, whether in regards of being too old or not. I've been to Giza many times and I'm intimately familiar with the Pyramids, but as far as I know, there's still no specific factual confirmed age, despite the many radio-carbon dating attempts, which have merely resulted in guesstimates of proximate timelines.

Although the last testing seems to imply somewhat accurate results, a closer look at the final report reveals the samples used in testing to obtain those specific numbers were primarily plant based, found in and around the immediate areas of interest, as opposed to a processes of data recovery testing actual samples from the Pyramids themselves, as needed to obtain an even remotely accurate timeline, let alone the pin pointing of any specific tenures in the historical grid.

The particulars as to why that is, are as much a mystery as the dates themselves. And seeing how one cannot foresee the future, any possibilities of one day knowing a bonafide answer with 100% accuracy, within our lifetime or before the next extinction, which ever comes first, remains in the air until such time.

Anything to the contrary is simply poppy cock, with a dab of cootchie moose.

  • 9
    This answer would be improved with some sources. Otherwise it isn't much better than the pseudo-science referenced in the question.
    – Schwern
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 0:18

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