Egypts Unexplained Files (2019) s01e02 Episode Script

Curse of the Crocodile Queen

Narrator: Pyramids, temples, tombs these ancient wonders promise even greater secrets still to be found under the sands of Egypt.
Now, cutting-edge science finally decodes the mysterious land of the pharaohs.
With modern technology, we are gaining an insight into the way the ancient Egyptians lived and the manner in which they died.
Narrator: This time, unraveling the mysteries of ancient Egypt's elite.
Can cutting-edge technology locate the lost tomb of the legendary priest Imhotep.
It's quite difficult to separate the man from the myth.
Narrator: Will a strange, fragmented statue finally shed light on the mysterious Crocodile Queen? What was she? Who was she? How did she achieve what she did? Narrator: And can modern dna analysis reveal how a pharaoh saves his people from extinction? Surviving 100 years-worth old drought, how's that even possible? Narrator: Ancient clues unearthed, long-lost evidence re-examined, precious artifacts brought into the light of the 21st century.
These are Egypt's unexplained files.
Imhotep, the famous ancient-Egyptian priest, has eluded experts for centuries.
The location of the tomb of Imhotep is perhaps one of Egyptology's biggest mysteries.
It's quite difficult to separate the man from the myth.
Narrator: Can archaeologists, using new technology, finally make a breakthrough? Cutting-edge science may have found something very exciting.
Narrator: 170 different pharaohs rule over ancient Egypt, yet, surprisingly, one of the most revered elites never sits on the throne the mighty priest Imhotep.
Imhotep is massively famous.
In the modern world, he pops up as a character in popular culture.
In "the mummy" movies, he's the ultimate villain.
Narrator: Despite his hollywood infamy, egyptologists know little about the real man, and what they do know is largely based on myth.
Legend even has it that Imhotep started off as a priest.
He's credited with being the designer of the first step-pyramid, a healer, developing the calendar.
Narrator: Hieroglyphs in temples are the only concrete evidence that experts have to go on.
And they seem to suggest that Imhotep is worshipped as a god.
Reliefs and text talk about the god Imhotep, the god Imhotep.
So we know he's someone very important, and entire temples are built in his honor, especially at the site of Saqqara.
Narrator: Yet, details of Imhotep's life are nowhere to be found.
Over the course of 4,000 years, the real man behind the legend is lost.
If Imhotep is to be found anywhere, it's at Saqqara, where he's believed to have built the step-pyramid.
And it's here in the 1920s that the first evidence emerges.
A british archaeologist called Cecil Firth is excavating buildings around the step-pyramid, and he uncovers the base of a statue of Joseph.
Very unusually for such a monument, it mentions the name of a non-royal person, and that is Imhotep.
This is showing him to have been a very high-ranking individual a high priest of the sun god ra, chancellor of the king and powerful and important enough to have had his name inscribed on a statue of the king.
The statue base makes archaeologists realize that the divine Imhotep is also actually a historical person.
Narrator: Archaeologists hope to find Imhotep's tomb because they believe it could provide an invaluable insight into ancient Egyptian medical practices.
Imhotep is a man of writing and scholarship, connected with medicine and healing.
But there's a problem.
What's strange is that nowadays we do not know for sure where he was buried.
We assume it was somewhere in Saqqara, the site he's associated with, but otherwise, it's a mystery.
Narrator: For decades, Egyptologists scour the ancient cemetery at Saqqara.
British archaeologist walter bryan emery becomes obsessed with finding Imhotep and makes it his life's work to solve the mystery.
He referred to it as the quest for Imhotep and committed to it.
In his scientific reports, he was looking for this tomb in particular.
Narrator: Emery goes out to Saqqara.
And in 1964, his team uncovers mysterious clues buried beneath the sand.
He also discovers a number of strange models of body parts.
Narrator: At first, emery is puzzled by the macabre objects.
When he examines them closely, he makes an exciting connection to Imhotep.
These aren't parts of statues, but they're donated by pilgrims hoping for healing of ears or eyes or arms.
Because Imhotep is a god of healing, emery then thinks, "well, hang on a minute.
This may be his tomb.
" Narrator: When emery begins to dig into the sand beneath the models, what he uncovers defies belief.
Emery finds the beginning of a labyrinth of catacombs.
A vast, underground network of tunnels filled to the brim with different animal mummies.
Room after room after room of sacred animals baboons, cats, falcons, bulls.
Put in these galleries as offerings to the gods.
Narrator: Among thousands of animal mummies, emery finds a vital clue in the hunt for Imhotep.
Hundreds of pots containing sacred mummified Ibis birds.
This is a smoking gun for emery because Imhotep is known to have the title "chief one of the Ibis.
" emery's team excavate this Ibis shaft.
He finds another clue.
He finds a box, which is inscribed with the name Imhotep, the great.
Narrator: Emery believes he's hit the jackpot.
This inscription is a really important clue that implies that Imhotep's tomb could be nearby.
Emery must be thinking he's getting close.
Narrator: Yet seven years pass, and emery finds nothing more.
Then tragedy strikes.
Emery suffers a stroke.
He's found collapsed in the dig house at Saqqara.
He's taken to a hospital in Cairo nearby, and a few days later, he dies never having found the tomb that he spent the last few years of his life looking for.
Narrator: In 2007, an international team of archaeologists picks up the trail in the hunt for Imhotep's tomb.
This time, they take an entirely different approach.
They apply revolutionary ground-penetrating radar to the entire desert and create a map of everything unseen below the sand.
On the geo-physical plan, we can see up to five meters into the surface of the ground.
Narrator: What they find is astonishing.
We discover two very large structures.
One 90 meters in length.
One next door 70 meters in length.
Narrator: To experts, this can only mean one thing.
The size and position of these features in the map indicate strongly that they're tombs.
Narrator: Researchers realize the large size of these tombs means they are important burials.
And when they date the tombs, an extraordinary connection to Imhotep materializes.
They may belong to the third dynasty, when he lived.
Could these be the evidence that we are looking for of the tomb of Imhotep? Narrator: Experts are hopeful, but there's still a long way to go.
Only once they get permission to dig can they identify the tombs.
We still don't have that clinching evidence that allows us to say, "this is where he was buried.
This is his tomb.
" only active digging would show if they do belong to Imhotep.
Narrator: This cutting-edge technology takes us closer to finding Imhotep than ever before.
But until we dig beneath the sands of Saqqara, the precise location of his tomb remains a mystery.
one pharaoh's genius guides his people through a biblical catastrophe.
Exactly how remains unknown.
Surviving 100 years-worth old drought, how's that even possible? Now, dna evidence from cattle bones is finally revealing how ancient Egypt prepares for disaster while other civilizations fall apart.
Ancient Egyptians battled climate change something we can't even do today.
Narrator: Egypt, 1250 bce the ancient world is on the brink of collapse.
An extreme drought ravages the land.
Multiple civilizations face extinction.
The drought, as far as we know, lasts 150 years.
It brings once-great empires to their knees because of the lack of food.
Narrator: Experts know about this dark period of history from the discovery of an extraordinary clay table.
Written by a nation called the hittites, rivals to the ancient Egyptians 3,000 years ago.
It's an s.
O.
S.
Letter to the great Egyptian pharaoh ramesses the second begging for help.
The queen of the hittites rights and says, "there are no grains in my country.
" "we're basically starving.
There's a famine.
There's a drought.
" "please, can you help? We're facing a humanitarian crisis.
" Narrator: Researchers believe the drought the desperate queen describes must be severe.
Why would a queen of the hittites reach out in their time of need to ramesses the second, who was, in principal, an enemy? The drought has made that even old enemies have to pair up and help each other out.
Narrator: Experts believe this letter reveals that during the reign of ramesses the second, Egyptians are unaffected by the drought.
They begin to question, "do the Egyptians know these droughts are coming?" and how do they survive when so many others perish? The Egyptians were able to actually help their arch-enemies by sending grain.
They were actually able to sustain their empire for a long period of time in the face of drought.
Was it adaptability on the part of the ancient Egyptians, or was it survival through great leadership? Narrator: Egyptologists begin to search for evidence of how the great pharaoh guides his people to overcome a century and a half of drought.
Many believe clues lie in what the Egyptians eat.
Could it have been the nature of the ancient Egyptian diet that helped the Egyptians survive so long? We understand that the elites had a more protein-rich diet, but what are the commoners eating? The answer remains a mystery until 2013, when scientists uncover critical evidence.
Carbon from food is preserved within the tissues of ancient Egyptian mummies.
Different levels of carbon are stored in the body by different foodstuffs.
So by analyzing these levels in the evidence of the mummies, we can work out what people ate.
Narrator: Scientists analyze the carbon within the mummified remains of common people from the time of the drought.
The results reveal that ordinary Egyptians have a radically different diet to that of their rulers.
New carbon-isotope data tells us that actually fish and meat were not a large part of the ancient Egyptian diet.
They're mostly harvesting and eating wheat and barley.
The ancient Egyptians, by and large, seem to have been vegetarian.
Narrator: Experts believe a vegetarian diet gives the ancient Egyptians a critical advantage through even the most severe drought, because crops require far less water.
Meat-based diets require more land, more irrigation, more resources.
A plant/vegetable-based diet is easier to sustain in a drought.
Narrator: But a question remains exactly how they consistently grow crops in over a century of drought remains unclear.
Clues emerge from an usual source.
In 2013, scientists working at the sea of galilee collect fossilized pollen samples.
They date the pollen to the time of the new kingdom.
When they analyze it further, the samples reveal something revolutionary.
The ancients are genetic engineers.
Pollen samples show that crops are being bred, which are more resistant.
Maca: They were experimenting with new types of grains that could survive really long droughts.
Narrator: And it doesn't stop there.
During the reign of ramesses the second, ancient Egyptians take their preparation to another level.
Researchers now believe that they track the extent of the droughts, year on year, using a device called a nilometer.
A simple device, very akin to a kind of climate science for ancient Egypt.
Narrator: The nilometer is a stone structure with a series of lines carved into its wall, which measures the depth of the Nile during the annual floods.
They measure the Nile and know whether a harvest can be expected to be good or bad.
16 stripes, it was ideal.
14 stripes, not all the land can be flooded.
12 stripes, hunger.
Narrator: But something still puzzles experts.
If the Egyptians are preparing for droughts by tracking water levels and using heat-resistant grains, then they still need cattle to plow fields in extreme temperatures.
And the cattle the Egyptians traditionally use are not adapted to these conditions.
In 2017, at the sight of megiddo in the far reaches of the ancient Egyptian empire, archaeologists make a breakthrough.
At the site of megiddo, archaeologists find evidence of cattle bones.
Narrator: To shed light on the precise breed of cattle the ancients use, scientists sequence dna from the 3,000-year-old bones.
The results reveal something astonishing.
They were breeding cattle that could basically survive a drought.
Narrator: The cattle are not a pure, domestic breed but a cross-breed, with a cow called a zebu that have evolved to tolerate extreme heat.
If you are preparing for a drought, you will want to breed in more of these arid-living cattle dna into your common stock, and this is exactly what the Egyptians were doing.
It's one of the first really great examples of kind of bio-genetic engineering.
Narrator: To experts, it's now clear how the ancient Egyptians survive the drought while civilizations around them fall apart.
And Egyptologists have an explanation for the hittite queen's s.
O.
S.
Letter to the great Egyptian pharaoh, ramesses the second.
She's asking for help from the only civilization that has mastered their environment.
Maca: The ancient Egyptians' preparation in the face of a widespread drought allowed the Egyptian empire to continue well beyond many of these other societies and civilizations.
Narrator: The Egyptians conquer the drought for over a century, but the extreme conditions intensify.
Eventually, they become too severe for any civilization to survive.
It wasn't enough.
Ultimately, the new kingdom falls.
Narrator: Yet, it's their resilience in the face of disaster that endures.
The new kingdom is still thought of as a great golden age of Egyptian history.
The Egyptians' response can teach us lessons.
Climate change can have a huge impact on civilization, on society, but we can prepare for it.
out of 170 ancient Egyptian rulers, only four are women.
And yet, the first recorded female pharaoh Sobeknefru is a figure shrouded in mystery.
People know the names of cleopatra and hatshepsut, but they don't know the name of Sobeknefru.
Why not? Narrator: Now, can the discovery of a fragmented statue finally shed light on the forgotten female pioneer strangely known as the Crocodile Queen? Who was she? How did she achieve what she did? This discovery is telling us about what happened thousands of years ago.
Narrator: The 200-year quest to uncover the true identity ofEgypt's first female ruler, the Crocodile Queen, starts at luxor in 1820.
An italian antiquities collector bernardino drovetti makes a remarkable discovery.
An ancient papyrus known as the turin canon which contains the most extensive list of Egyptian kinds ever discovered.
Yet, among the famous pharaohs is a name no one recognizes Sobeknefru.
She's the daughter of a very important pharaoh of the middle kingdom, amenemhat the third.
The last living family member of the great dynasty 12.
Narrator: Researchers analyze the king list and realize that Sobeknefru is more than just royalty.
She's a female pioneer.
Sobeknefru is very significant because not only is she in the turin canon, but she is the first recorded female pharaoh.
Narrator: Sobeknefru is the first female pharaoh in history, so experts begin to wonder, could this mean she's the most powerful? The first step for researchers is to explore the turin canon for more clues as to how, against the odds, she comes to power.
It reveals that Sobeknefru's brother amenemhat the fourth inherits the throne before her.
She remains in his shadow.
10 years later, amenemhat the fourth dies without a male heir to the throne.
The ancient Egyptians would rather allow a woman to rule than have warlords duke it out and destroy Egypt from within.
Narrator: Sobeknefru becomes the first woman to ascend the throne of Egypt.
But the turin canon reveals that Sobeknefru's reign lasts just four years.
And beyond that, there is little information.
Egyptologists have long known that some pharaohs adopt new names under which they rule.
So they turn to analyzing her name for clues as to what kind of pharaoh she is.
Sobeknefru's name is very unusual.
Sobek is the crocodile god, and nefru means beautiful.
So she is the beauty of the crocodile god.
Narrator: But why would Sobeknefru rename herself after the crocodile god? Experts believe it could be a strategic move.
In ancient Egypt, crocodiles are greatly revered.
They're big, they're strong, they're fierce.
So Sobeknefru may well want to be named after the crocodile god because it really does give an aura of power and of might.
Narrator: Her strategy not only pays off, it leaves a lasting legacy.
After Sobeknefru's death, the next dynasty starts up.
But what's interesting is they keep her name.
Many of them adopt sobek, the name of the crocodile god.
They're not only showing respect to the god, but also to the queen.
Narrator: Yet, for researchers, the trail goes cold.
The turin canon yields no further clues to the real woman behind the Crocodile Queen.
Then, archaeologists digging at the ancient city of avaris unearth something remarkable a detailed sculpture of the Crocodile Queen.
And experts notice something unusual about her depiction.
She doesn't adopt the same strategy that other female pharaohs use to rule in a man's world.
The later female pharaohs, they're shown flat chested, almost as pseudo-men.
Ikram: Hatshepsut, who reigned much later than Sobeknefru, turned into showing herself as a man.
Narrator: But the Crocodile Queen looks very different from her successors.
Cooney: She's dressed as a woman.
She has a dress with straps that go over her breasts.
She has a trim waist, full hips.
She doesn't morph into a male-looking pharaoh.
Narrator: This ground-breaking find reveals that far from hiding her gender, this female pharaoh flaunts it.
She was able to blend female clothing with the standard regalia of a traditional pharaoh.
The wrap-around kilt, the dagger tucked into the belt.
She didn't give up her female persona.
She probably had the army behind her, her advisors to support her, and it was no different for her than it was for a male pharaoh.
Narrator: After decades of research, this statue reflects the Crocodile Queen's true power.
Unlike hatshepsut, who conceals her femininity, or cleopatra, who dies because of it, the Crocodile Queen manages to create a feminine image so powerful that she's revered for centuries.
experts know how ancient Egypt's elite prepare for the afterlife, but the burial practices of the common man remain a mystery.
How did the ordinary people prepare for death? Are they buried straight into the sand or in a tomb? We simply don't know.
Narrator: Now, at an ancient Egyptian quarry, can new evidence finally reveal the afterlife is more than just a rich man's club? A cemetery consisting of families, including adults and children.
The items buried beneath the sand tell us an entirely different story.
Narrator: Nearly all mummies belong to the ancient Egyptian elite.
What most people don't realize when they see Egyptian mummies is that, for the most part, those people are the wealthy, the rich people.
Narrator: It means almost everything we know about death and the preparations for the afterlife comes from the tombs of the elite.
And this poses a significant problem.
Because it was the elite that could afford good mummification, we have a much better understanding of them than we do of the ordinary people.
Narrator: Experts are puzzled.
In a society of millions obsessed with preparing for death, why are the remains of ordinary Egyptians nowhere to be found? For most of ancient Egyptian times, the population fluctuated between one and two million people, which begs the question, what happened to the millions of other less-wealthy poor people? How did these ordinary people prepare for their death? Narrator: The search for answers triggers a century-long quest to find the graves ofEgypt's common man and uncover their secret burial practices.
Researchers' first step is to analyze the Egyptians' belief in the afterlife for clues as to how poor, working Egyptians are buried.
In the first place, the afterlife was like an exclusive club for Egyptian royalty only.
The status that you occupied in society was reflected in the position in which you were buried.
Narrator: Experts believe that the working poor simply didn't have the means to be buried in a way which gives them access to the afterlife.
Do they have simple tombs? Are they pit tombs? Are they mass burials? We tend to think everyone is equal in death, but this is not the case.
Narrator: The graves of the working poor remain a mystery, but Egyptologists do have a few examples of non-elite burials to study.
In the early 1900s, at deir el-medina, a perfectly preserved village near the valley of the kings, archaeologists find something extraordinary a series of tombs dating to the new kingdom.
When they go inside, they find elaborate cave paintings, valuable grave goods, but the chambers are small.
Narrator: For experts, the modest size of these tombs means only one thing.
This is not a burial site of the elite.
These small chambers tell us that the owners are fine artisans that produced the tombs of the royals.
Narrator: It's clear these are not burials of ordinary workers.
But Egyptologists analyzing the tombs believe they reveal something critical.
Over time, the afterlife seems to have become less exclusive.
We can see a tomb gets constructed, and then perhaps someone gets a promotion, and suddenly there are new titles being carved in hieroglyphs on the walls.
There is some upward mobility in ancient Egyptian society.
It's a question of resources.
Narrator: If the skilled works at deir el-medina built tombs, then experts begin to wonder if the very poorest in society do the same.
Then, in 2015, near the ancient Egyptian stone quarry of Gebel el-Silsila, a swedish archaeology team uncovers a stone doorway cut into the rock face.
As they excavate the entrance, they find something entirely unexpected.
They discover a complex series of tombs consisting of over 40 chambers.
The tombs are modest.
They're cut very simply.
The decorations are not ornate.
Narrator: The simple appearance of the tombs excites archaeologists.
They begin to wonder if this could be the workers' cemetery they've been searching for and whether they'll find evidence of the poor preparing for the afterlife.
As they begin removing sand from the tombs, what they discover is astonishing.
Price: A cemetery consisting of families, including adults and children.
These are not simply mass burials.
These are families put together.
You find some that are even in wooden coffins.
Narrator: Archaeologists examine the bones in detail, looking for clues to confirm who these people are, and they notice a pattern.
Rose: The bones are covered in a very similar set of fractures all of them.
This pattern tells us these are not fluke accidents.
This is what happened to everybody during their life.
These people have done hard labor.
Narrator: The proximity of the tombs to the quarry and the signs of hard labor on the bones leads experts to one conclusion.
These graves belong to the quarry workers of Gebel el-Silsila.
They've actually found the bones of ordinary Egyptians.
Narrator: Archaeologists turn their attention back to the tombs and uncover something unexpected.
They find all kinds of grave goods, like painted pottery, textiles, magical amulets, even jewelry.
Narrator: The find points to an extraordinary conclusion.
The poorest in society are preparing for life beyond the grave.
Rose: There's no doubt these items were place in these graves for life after death.
So it must mean that these works believe they, too, could reach the afterlife.
Narrator: Finally, the burial practices ofEgypt's working poor are no longer a mystery.
Despite being significantly more modest than elite burials, these tombs and grave goods are proof that even the poorest Egyptians are trying to give their families a chance of reaching the afterlife.
Workers weren't just shoved into a mass grave when they died.
They, too, could aspire to have their own tomb.
This just goes to show that all ancient Egyptians had a pretty good shot at salvation.
Narrator: Karnak, one of the largest religious sites in the world.
But few visitors realize that three-quarters of its temples lie in ruins.
Every time I go there, I'm speechless.
It's 200 acres of rubble.
Narrator: The spiritual events that take place in these temples for over 2,000 years remain a mystery.
Now, one archaeologist is on a mission to digitally reconstruct Karnak and finally understand the mysteries hidden deep in the heart of ancient Egyptian culture.
What was the purpose of all these buildings? Narrator: Around 2000 bce, mighty pharaoh senwosret the first orders the laying of the first stone at Karnak to build a temple devoted to the god amun, but it doesn't stop there.
Every pharaoh after him adds to the site.
The temple of Karnak grew up over a millennium, and there was no boundaries set out in the very beginning.
Bianchi: Every pharaoh wanted to curry favor of the gods, and so building a monument in Karnak ingratiated them with the deities to whom the temples were dedicated.
Narrator: Around 130 pharaohs later, after 1,500 years of worship, Karnak becomes the largest religious site in the ancient world.
Karnak is a magical place.
The ancient Egyptians called it Ipet-Isut, the most select of places.
Narrator: And experts believe Karnak's temples could hold clues to how the pharaohs change religious beliefs over time.
Karnak was the religious center of Egypt.
It's a witness to how people feel religion, how they do religion.
Narrator: Thousands of years since its construction, large parts of Karnak now lie in ruins, which poses a problem for experts trying to study its religious past.
When professor Wileke Wendrich from UCLA visits Karnak for the first time, she's puzzled.
I visited Karnak, and I got so confused.
You see an enormous field of stone rubble with huge walls sticking out.
A lot of it is still very unclear.
Narrator: This experience sparks a lifelong quest for Wendrich to make sense of Karnak's ruins and uncover how pharaohs changed the religious practices within its walls.
She begins by studying Karnak's most spectacular building the hypostyle hall.
Covered in hundreds of religious scenes, it's the largest and most richly-decorated hall in Egypt.
You have this enormous complex that is the heart of the religious life of ancient Egypt.
Narrator: Wendrich can see from the hypostyle hall's hieroglyphs that it dates to the new kingdom and the reign of seti the first.
And what's clear from the number of diverse hieroglyphs is that the hall has been added to by countless pharaohs, resulting in a vast, sprawling structure.
It is this massive forest of 132 pillars.
It is immense.
Narrator: Yet, a crucial part of the building once lay in ruins.
In 1899, french archaeologist georges legrain begins the gargantuan task of rebuilding 11 of its collapsed pillars.
The reconstruction is really focused on this area of the temples because it's so awe-inspiring.
Narrator: Legrain's team have to meticulously relay the foundations for each pillar and rebuild them peace by peace.
It's a pain-staking process that takes years to complete.
Now, at last, Egyptologists, like Wendrich, can study the hall in more detail and unlock its spiritual significance.
The hypostyle hall represents the cosmos.
You have the earth, you have the sky, and then you have the papyrus thicket in between.
Narrator: The columns are built by seti the first to mimic papyrus reeds and represent the primeval swamp from which the Egyptian world is said to have been born.
Experts believe this hall is the pharaoh's tribute to the Egyptian gods who created the universe.
If you were an Egyptian visiting Karnak and just looking at that, words would not explain the awe.
Narrator: In her quest to uncover more of Karnak's religious secrets, Wendrich runs into a fundamental problem.
Some of Karnak's temples have been removed from history by subsequent pharaohs.
It was extremely political, this building.
Sometimes, they took entire sections away to erase the memory of a particular pharaoh.
Narrator: In the 1920s, archaeologists rebuilding a wall at Karnak notice something strange.
It contains hundreds of red granite blocks.
On each stone are mysterious hieroglyphs.
Translations of the writings reveal something astonishing.
The blocks do not belong in this wall at all.
They are part of a chapel built by 18th dynasty pharaoh, hatshepsut.
Sometimes, monuments are dismantled because a pharaoh, like hatshepsut, would fall out of favor.
Narrator: Having studied Karnak for decades, Wendrich realizes that to fully uncover its religious past, it's not enough to reconstruct small sections with bricks and mortar.
So in 2007, she applies cutting-edge digital techniques to bring the whole of Karnak to life virtually.
It's based on excavations, on things we know, things we can measure.
What we tried to do with this model is make something that represents our state of knowledge.
Narrator: The challenge is not simply to reconstruct Karnak's temples, but to show how pharaohs change them over time.
We can trace what happened to all those different buildings.
We have created a time slider, where you can slide through the development of Karnak.
Narrator: Using this 3-d model, Wendrich can see how pharaohs begin to worship different gods at Karnak.
It's enables us to see that there are changes in religion.
And even though this is a temple to amun-re, through time, we got osiris, who was the god of the underwold.
He has his own buildings in Karnak and becomes more and more important.
Narrator: This is just the beginning, and creating a full picture of Karnak's religious past won't be easy.
Now, this digital model is revolutionizing how experts study Karnak's temples to finally shed more light on the religious beliefs of the pharaohs.
how the pharaohs create an entire civilization from scratch mystifies experts, but they believe the great pyramid could hold vital clue.
The level of the materials manipulating to create this project is a massive, massive undertaking.
I think it impacted upon all areas of society.
Everyone believed they were pulling in the same direction.
Narrator: Now, can modern analysis of the materials used at giza reveal how building the great pyramid actually builds ancient Egypt? Narrator: On the outskirts of Cairo stands the last wonder of the ancient world the great pyramid of giza.
Built for the fourth dynasty pharaoh, Khufu, it has endured for 4,500 years.
It's still the largest structure on earth.
Dash: It's an immense monument.
It covers 13 acres, it's 140 meters tall, and it's built of three million stones.
Narrator: Building the world's first mega monument is a daunting proposition.
So experts consider, what challenges do the ancients face? What ingenious solutions do they come up with? And in building this stone giant, are they shaping their own civilization? It's a project manager's nightmare, and yet the Egyptians seemed to pull it off.
Narrator: Investigators begin considering how, in a time before people know how to smelt iron, the ancients carve out the pyramid's estimated 2.
3 million stone blocks.
The Egyptians are capable of working metals at this point, but the use of metal for things like tools revolves around copper.
Narrator: Copper is a relatively soft metal, so copper chisels regular blunt or break when carving rock.
And experts believe this poses a significant logistical problem.
Rose: They're using so much copper, but where's all that copper coming from? There is no copper in the Nile valley.
Narrator: Now, scientists in Europe are trying to find the origin of the ancient stonemasons' copper.
Using isotope analysis on copper artifacts, they get a match and pinpoint a potential supply.
Hundreds of miles from the great pyramid at giza, across the red sea in the land of sinai.
The copper is actually in the sinai peninsula, so they would send all their miners there and import all that copper back into the empire.
Narrator: This kickstarts a mining enterprise that not only supplies tools to build pharaoh Khufu's great pyramid, but also the tombs in the valley of the kings centuries later.
By demanding elaborate monuments,Egypt's elite, perhaps inadvertently, spark a from of industrialization that allows this growing society to flourish.
Experts begin to think, "do the great pyramid's other building problems spark different technological advances?" investigators consider the problem the Egyptians face in transporting huge quantities of stone from quarries hundreds of miles from the pyramids.
It must have been torture to move these giant blocks.
A few hundred feet is bad enough, let alone a thousand miles.
Narrator: Ancient records confirm that there is only one feasible method to transport the stone on boats along the Nile.
Naunton: The Nile is absolutely critical to pyramid building.
It was the way that the stone blocks were conveyed to the site.
Narrator: Experts now know the ancient Egyptians transformed the Nile into a sophisticated transport network, one that allows Egypt's civilization to thrive.
The Nile couldn't have been more important.
It was a communication artery.
It was a transportation artery.
There was a very elaborate system of ports and harbors.
Maca: The Egyptians, for thousands of years, they were mastered pilers of waterways.
Narrator: From Khufu's pyramid project managers, what emerges from this vast network is a large and nation-wide workforce.
The great pyramid took about 20 years to build, tens of thousands of workers over that time.
Der Manuelian: This wasn't a localized building.
The great pyramid reached out and effected all parts of the country.
Even though people may have been living away from the actual construction sites, they were involved.
Narrator: Experts believe that in bringing together this diverse work force of every corner of his lands, king Khufu creates the type of society that supports ancient Egypt's enduring civilization.
Everyone believed they were pulling in the same direction.
If you have a united work force working towards a common goal, you can achieve anything, and that's what the ancient Egyptians did.
Narrator: It's now clear that by mining in sinai, mastering the Nile, and uniting a national work force, king Khufu creates a lasting legacy.
He builds more than the great pyramid.
He builds the infrastructure that allows ancient Egypt to thrive for more than two millennia.