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So how do you date the pyramids, because they're made out of stone and mortar?
Well, in the 1980s when I was crawling around on the pyramids, as I used to like to do and still do, I noticed that contrary to what many guides tell people, even the stones of the Great Pyramid of Khufu are put together with great quantities of mortar. A pyramid is basically, most basically, two separate constructions: it's an outer shell of very fine polished limestone with great accuracy in its joints, but most of that's missing; and the other construction is the inner core, which filled in this shell.
Rarely do we have people from thousands of years ago who are writing, who are signing confessions.
So there's no one easy way that we know what the date of the pyramids happens to be. The pyramids are surrounded by cemeteries of other tombs. Sometimes we find organic materials, like fragments of reed, and wood, wooden coffins.
We find the bones of the people who lived and were buried in these tombs. But primarily we date the pyramids by their position in the development of Egyptian architecture and material culture over the broad sweep of 3,000 years.
If it took 20 years to build them—and now we begin to think that Khufu may have reigned double the length of time that we traditionally assign him—if people were building the Great Pyramid over three decades, it was an occupied site as long as some camp sites that hunters and gatherers occupied that archaeologists dig out in the desert. And the evidence of the people who built them, their material culture is embedded right into the very fabric of the pyramids.Now and then in some of the pyramids we found little bits of wood.But we saw in many places, even on the giant pyramids of Giza, the first pyramid and the second pyramid and the third one, fragments of tools, bits of pottery that are clearly characteristic of the Old Kingdom.And I think I could take just about any interested person and show them this kind of material embedded in the pyramids as well as tool marks in the stones and say, hey, folks, these weren't lasers.These were chisels and hammers and you know, people who were really out there.