Lost Secrets of the Pyramid

New findings are unravelling one of the world's greatest ancient mysteries, how a skyscraper of stone was built without computers or complex machinery.
Available on CBC Gem

Lost Secrets of the Pyramid

Nature of Things

The Great Pyramid of Egypt may be humanity’s greatest achievement. It’s a skyscraper of stone built without computers or complex machinery. This super-sized tomb has fascinated historians and archeologists for centuries. Now the secrets of the pyramid could finally be exposed, thanks to a series of astonishing new findings. Egyptologists are unearthing evidence across the country to reveal a story that tells of more than just how Egypt built a pyramid – they are discovering how the pyramid itself changed Egypt and the world.  

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Using immersive CGI imagery and unique access to ongoing new excavations, Lost Secrets of the Pyramid is a breath-taking dive into the vanished world of the Ancient Egyptians. The use of stunning aerial drone footage and dynamic experimental archeology makes this a rare and remarkable portrait of the pyramid and the people who built it.

David Suzuki is joining the experts and scientists on the frontline who are unravelling new clues to the world’s greatest ancient mystery.

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Ancient Egyptians were living for the weekend too.

American archeologist Mark Lehner has studied the Great Pyramid in forensic detail and now he’s searching the surrounding areas for clues about the people who worked on this pyramid. David joins Mark to figure out where the pyramid workforce lived, what they ate and more. Mark and his team are building up a picture of work life far removed from the old idea of an army of slaves – instead, this was a well-cared for and sophisticated workforce. 

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At the country’s prestigious Grand Egyptian Museum David meets the people conserving the country’s greatest treasures as he seeks to discover why the Great Pyramid was commissioned by a powerful pharaoh called Khufu. Museum director Tarek Tawfik reveals the secrets of mummification and how this tomb was built to transport Khufu to the afterlife along with many precious possessions.

The pharaoh’s tomb was violated and stripped long ago — but the raiders missed one great treasure. In an ongoing excavation that project director Eissa Zidan calls "the number one project in all of the world” - archeologists are unearthing an artefact that once belonged to the king himself. It’s one of the biggest treasures ever found in Egypt — a mighty ship dismantled and buried alongside the pyramid to be used by Khufu in the afterlife. We join experts figuring out how this ship was put together by scanning it and building a 3D computer model. Could ships prove to be the key to how the pyramid was built?

Archaeologist Pierre Tallet holds an ancient papyrus

Archeologist Pierre Tallet holds an ancient papyrus

David meets experts uncovering evidence that the ancient Egyptians used boats on the river Nile to transport huge quantities of stone for the pyramid. An astonishing ancient papyrus – the oldest found – is decoded by investigators. It unlocks the Great Pyramid’s building mysteries by explaining how stone for the monuments outer shell were transported by boat. Stunning CGI brings the papyrus’ secrets to life and exposes the man who wrote it – an elite pyramid worker called Merer.

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In Cairo, David joins maritime archaeologist Mohamed Abd El-Maguid at the start of a daring experiment. Mohamed is leading a team rebuilding a ship and recreating Merer’s way of working. But can a wooden boat really hold the weight of a massive limestone block? And how will the team fare on the fast-flowing Nile?

David builds up a vivid picture of the ancient people, their ground-breaking new infrastructure and the mysterious belief system that allowed the pharaoh Khufu to command the construction of the greatest monument of all time. The new findings reveal that efforts to build a pyramid on a scale never-before-seen in Egypt helped transform the country, and its people, and the world forever.

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