Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson thinks Egypt's ancient pyramids were intended to store grain, not dead pharaohs.

The revelation came after Buzzfeed unearthed a 17-year-old address Carson made to a graduating class at Andrews University in Michigan.

"My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain," he told the audience. "Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs' graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don't think it'd just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain."

Like the founders of Andrews University, Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist. He also appears to favour a literalist view of the Book of Genesis, in which Joseph, one of Jacob's 12 sons, stores enough grain to feed Egypt during seven years of drought.

Carson said that the design of the pyramids is evidence they were intended to store grain for a long period of time, as Joseph may have done in the biblical story.

Asked by CBS News this week if he still believes the pyramids are ancient grain silos, he said, "It's still my belief, yes."

Actual authorities on ancient Egypt are not impressed with Carson's thinking.  

"This is not an academic topic of debate," Jodi Magness, a specialist in biblical archaeology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill told The Associated Press. "The use of the pyramids as tombs is verified by both written (literary) sources and archeological evidence."

Carson is being criticized online as well. 

Even fellow Republican Donald Trump seemed startled by Carson's statement, telling MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday that it was a "strange deal," and that he would add it to his repertoire of information about Carson.

This is not the first time Carson has faced criticism.

A newly revealed hip-hop radio endorsement, set for release in several American cities to gain favour with young black voters, is currently being met with mockery online.